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Volleyball: Preview of first-round state playoff matches
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Lambert's Ally Hall hits the ball against West Forsyth on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. - photo by Brian Paglia

Lambert vs. Berkmar

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Records: Lambert is 27-11, 6-1 in Area 5-7A; Berkmar is 0-14, 0-3 in Area 7-7A.

What to know: When Lambert fell soundly to North Forsyth on Sept. 19, losing three sets to one, it looked like the Raiders had supplanted all challengers and claimed supremacy in Area 5-7A. The area tournament, however, showed that was not so: The Longhorns’ height and young talent shined through in a five-set win over North to take the area title and claim the No. 1 state tournament seed. Lambert is a much younger, less experienced team than it was in 2016, as the Longhorns have been led by seniors like Madeleine Bertz but also by Ally Hall, a sophomore, and Bella Tolone, a freshman. That youth may become a factor later on in the playoffs, but it almost certainly won’t in this opening matchup against a winless Berkmar squad.

What’s next: The winner plays Archer or Mountain View.

North Forsyth vs. Lakeside-Dekalb

When: Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.

Records: North is 37-9, 6-1 in Area 5-7A; Lakeside is 19-17, 4-2 in Area 7-7A

What to know: The Raiders seemed to have completed their rise to the top of Area 5-7A during the regular season this year, claiming wins by two sets or more against every other school in the area, but a loss to Lambert in the area championship dealt a blow to North’s hopes of a deep playoff run. A shaky Lakeside squad shouldn’t be a significant challenge for the Raiders, but a probable second-round matchup with North Gwinnett, who beat North two sets to none earlier in the season, isn’t an ideal scenario.

What’s next: The winner plays North Gwinnett or Rockdale County.

South Forsyth at Norcross

When: Wednesday, 5 p.m.

Records: South is 15-24, 5-3 in Area 5-7A; Norcross is 22-22, 5-1 in Area 7-7A

What to know: This season, by almost every standard, has been a down year for the War Eagles, who had won at least 34 matches in each of the past five years. They saw long runs of supremacy over North, Lambert and West Forsyth end and had an unremarkable year in non-area play. South is playing decent volleyball as of late, though, beating Milton in three sets and then topping West 3-1 to take third in the area tournament. The best indicator of their chances against Norcross might be a common opponent: South had twice beaten Brookwood this year, winning two sets to none both times. Norcross, meanwhile, has lost twice to the Broncos, most recently by a 3-1 margin in the area finals.

What’s next: The winner plays Grayson or Peachtree Ridge.

West Forsyth at Kennesaw Mountain

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Records: West is 15-27, 4-4 in Area 5-7A; Kennesaw Mountain is 40-10, 9-2 in Area 3-7A.

What to know: The Wolverines are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2014, helped along by a performance in area play that included the school’s first win over South Forsyth in four years. Kennesaw Mountain doesn’t look unbeatable, as the Mustangs lost two sets to none to North Forsyth and fell twice to Hillgrove in the area championship, but it would take an exceptional effort for the Wolverines to prevail.

What’s next: The winner plays Newnan or Woodstock.