The Gainesville Lady Leopards faced a formidable Class 2A opponent at home Tuesday night.
Staying close early in all three games, the Lady Leopards, however, fell in straight sets to Gunter, 25-14, 25-12, 25-17.
Gainesville (1-2) took early leads in all three games, but the strong net play of six-footer Joey Bailey stymied any cushion the Lady Leopards hoped to gain.
After leading 5-2 in Game 1 thanks to a kill and an ace from Megan Carroll, Gunter retaliated with five straight points including two aces from Lana Green, giving her team a 7-5 lead.
Baylee Mims got a kill then Taylor Murphy added an ace to help the Lady Leopards regain the lead at 8-7.
But then Bailey, who started the game on the back row, got it going at the net with five kills and a block for points as part of an 11-0 run to give the Lady Tigers a 19-8 lead before Gainesville — thanks to a rare block of a Bailey kill shot by Murphy — broke Meghan Mazerolle’s service.
Bailey later added two more of her 13 total kills to extend Gunter’s lead to 22-9.
Gainesville got to 22-12 after two blocks by Carroll and a kill by Skye Ferch.
From there, Ferch added another kill and Zhanice Lane had an ace to make it 23-14 in favor of Gunter, who is now 5-3 on the season.
In Game 2, Gainesville raced out to a 4-1 lead on three hitting errors by Gunter and an ace from Carroll.
But Gunter went on an 11-2 run to take a 13-6 lead. In that time, Chelsie Reed had a kill while Mazerolle added two aces and Green tacked on an ace as well.
The two lone points for Gainesville came on kill shots from Mims and newcomer Cayla Conway.
Gunter ended the second game on a 12-5 run. Bailey added four more kills, Harlee Johnson had two kills and Morgan Watson added an ace in that span.
Game 3 for Gainesville was by far the team’s best overall performance, keeping the game as close as a 16-16 tie before Gunter ended the game on a 9-1 run, dashing any hopes of a fourth game for the Lady Leopards.
Holding a 16-11 advantage, Gunter allowed Gainesville to rally for the tie thanks to a couple of hitting errors while Murphy added two aces.
During the 9-1 run in the final game, Johnson tacked on three more kills to finish with seven for the match while Bailey added two more of her own.
For the Lady Leopards, Carroll finished the match with four kills and two aces while Mims and Ferch each added three kills. Conway also added two kills while Murphy finished with three aces, one kill and a block. Lane also contributed with three aces.
In Lady Leopards notes, the team hopes Paola Vazquez, who has been injured since the start of the season, will return to action next Tuesday. In her stead is Conway, who was called up from the freshmen squad for the match against Gunter.
In sub-varsity action, the freshman team improved to 4-1 on the season after defeating Gunter 25-11, 25-15. The junior varsity fell to the Lady Tigers, 25-14, 25-12, 25-17.
The Gainesville Lady Leopards’ next opponent will be at 5 p.m. Friday at home against Callisburg.