By Sean Gorman, Register Sports Writer
The Gainesville volleyball team received a tough test on its Senior Night Tuesday, falling in three sets to No. 4 Decatur at the GHS gym.
As a result of the 25-14, 25-10, 25-16 loss to to the Lady Eagles, (30-7), Gainesville (19-20-1, 3-5) secured the fourth spot in District 9-3A, setting them up to face No.1 ranked Argyle in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
Decatur established itself early in the first set, pulling ahead 9-1. Brittany Royal gave Gainesville another point by forcing a sideout. Kills from Whytneigh Duffie and Ariannah Kemp, along with block by Royal and Kemp brought the Leopards back within seven at 15-8.
But the Lady Eagles responded with authority, scoring the next six points. Hannah Gerken then served an ace and GHS scored the following two points, but DHS clinched the win when Gainesville couldn’t return a serve placed over the middle of the net.
In the second set, Gainesville gained an early 3-2 when Duffie notched a pair of kills. But once again, Decatur responded, scoring 13 of the next 16 points to go ahead 15-6. The Lady Leopards scored on a block from Royal, a Chandler Kemp kill and another kill from Duffie, but the Lady Eagles had no trouble earning a 25-10 win.
Gainesville showed the most fight in the third set, which started with the Lady Leopards taking a 6-3 lead. Two Mary Gerkin aces and a kill from Kemp helped the team gain an early edge, but Decatur went on an 8-0 run midway through the set en route to a 25-16 victory to clinch the match.
Prior to the game, seniors Hannah Gerken, Sabrina Kennedy, Whytneigh Duffie, Payton Cassidy, Ashley Smith, Evan Gregory and Ariannah Kemp and manager Salena Espinosa were honored with a ceremony. Tuesday’s game served as the final home game of their careers.
The road for Gainesville doesn’t get any easier, as their next foe Argyle is the top ranked team in the state. The team features 6-2 junior Katy Keenan, already a commit to Texas Tech, and has three players with more than 360 kills on the year.
The matchup between the Lady Leopards and Lady Eagles will take place at 7 p.m. Monday at Texas Women’s University.