Tuesday's area volleyball tilt at Milton High School couldn't have looked more like a region tournament, but the coaches on the floor weren't thinking ahead.
The nightcap matchup between Lambert and South Forsyth was a litmus test for both teams heading closer to postseason play, as they finished off area competition in a game vital for both teams.
South defeated Lambert 26-24 and 25-21 to improve to 2-0 on the day without a dropped set, as well as 5-0 overall in league play. It was a relieving victory of sorts for South head coach Kelly Wren, who has continued to work on tweaks since the team's big time middle hitter Shea McNamara went down with an injury early in the year.
South (23-13, 5-0 Region 5-7A) got some big time blocks from the middle thanks to the presence inside of Avery Kline and Molly Bergen, as well as right-side hitter Sarah Stoneking, and Amanda Nugent powered through with nine total kills to lead scorers in the match.
Heading into the contest it was Lambert's 22-9 record that stood out—Wren knew their performance against the Lady Longhorns would be an important measuring stick, and she was pleased with the results.
“We just needed to see them,” Wren said. “They've got all the right pieces. They have a nice offensive line, they are scrappy, both of our teams can hit, dig and serve aggressively. I think our serve and receive tonight was the difference.
“We're just coming into our rhythm, we've battled some injuries, to getting this tonight is big.”
South's Hannah McGlockton had three aces in Set 1 against Lambert, causing problems with consistently low strikes from the back corner. Lambert showed off its depth though as Kendall Spangler registered seven kills in the match, but the kills were spread around to eight different players who had multiple for the match.
Despite the loss Lambert head coach Missy Hall wasn't worried.
“We wanted this match to see what we need to work on, and see how we match up,” Hall said. “It was definitely a precursor to see where we are going into the tournament, but the girls know once we get there everything we've done since then is a wash. We've got things to work on and prepare for.”
Included in those things to work on and prepare for will be North Forsyth (25-10, 3-2), which swept through Milton and West Forsyth to clinch the No. 3 seed in the area tournament. The Lady Raiders, under first-year coaches Drew and Kelly Cecil, have won 10 of their last 13 matches, with all but one win coming with a 2-0 sweep. North led Milton as much as 14-3 in the first set, but had a scare in the second, winning with two-late points in a comeback.
West Forsyth went 1-1 on the night, despite giving South trouble in the first match of the evening. Chloe Lance had five kills and two aces during the match for the Lady Wolverines. Forsyth Central dropped its only match of the night, falling to Milton.