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.