GAINESVILLE — The Gainesville Lady Leopards hung tough with the No. 3 ranked team in the state Friday, but in the end Decatur proved to be too strong as the Lady Eagles left town with a 3-0 victory to remain perfect in District 9-3A.
Gainesville (29-9 overall, 3-3 district) pushed the Lady Eagles to the limit in the first two games, but ran out of gas in the third, losing 19-25, 22-25, 12-25.
It marked the first time all season that Gainesville has lost at home, and it was also the first time that the Lady Leopards have dropped back-to-back matches. Gainesville also lost to Bridgeport on Tuesday.
Gainesville led at some point in all three games. In game one, Decatur raced out to a 3-0 lead, only to see the Lady Leopards rally for a 5-4 advantage thanks to an ace by Kiarah Manuel. The lead grew to 9-7 after a Whytneigh Duffie kill, but Decatur later served five-straight points to go up 13-9.
The Lady Eagles then stretched their lead to 16-11 before Sarah Gerken served three points for GHS to bring them within one (16-15). Down the stretch, Decatur proved to be too strong at the net with their towering trio and pulled away for a 25-19 win.
Gainesville jumped on top early in the second game as Brittany Royal recorded a kill and Manuel served back-to-back aces to put GHS ahead 4-2. Later, Zhanice Lane served two points including an ace as the lead grew to 7-4. The game stayed tight as Decatur rallied to go up 14-11, only to see Gainesville rally thanks to kills by Duffie and Evan Gregory and an ace by Manuel that put GHS back on top 15-14.
It looked as if the Lady Eagles were going to pull away again as six-straight service points gave them a 22-16 lead, but a kill by Ariannah Kemp gave Gainesville a sideout and Payton Cassidy proceeded to serve four points that included another kill by Kemp and one by Duffie to pull Gainesville within one (22-21). But again, Decatur got the big hits when they needed them and took the second game 25-22.
In the third game, Gainesville took an early 2-1 lead, but the rest of the game belonged to the visitors from Wise County. A service point by Gerken that gave the Lady Leopards their second point would turn out to be the only service point Gainesville would win the entire game. Gregory, Manuel and Duffie would each have kills to give the Lady Leopards a sideout, but they could never capitalize as the Lady Eagles ran away for a 25-12 win.
Duffie finished with 8 kills and 1 block, Kemp had 5 kills and 3 blocks and Gerken added 20 assists.
The Lady Leopards honored their three seniors after the match. The trio includes Zhanice Lane, Sarah Gerken and Brooke McCoy.
The Gainesville junior varsity lost in two games to fall to 14-10 overall and 2-4 in district. The GHS freshmen lost in three and are now 20-4 overall and 4-2 in district play.
Gainesville will travel to Sanger Tuesday.