GAINESVILLE - In the opening round of the Class AAA state volleyball playoffs, No. 1-ranked North Hall dominated its opponent to the tune of allowing Towers just 14 points in a three-game sweep.
As has been the case all season for the 44-10 Trojans,there were a number of contributors including, among others, Maci Gillespie, Grace Hollifield, Holly Worden and of course, Autumn Tucker and Melissa DeVerter. As has also been the case all season, leading the way for North Hall was setter Lily Paschall.
On the day, Paschall accounted for 26 assists, three aces and four kills and for her efforts is the AccessWDUN Athlete of the Week presented by Coca-Cola United for the week of Oct. 9.
It's no coincidence that Paschall's stats are always listed first among the bevy of contributors for Emi Hughes squad, as she literally sets the stage for her teammates' successes.
"It's important that I know what the other team's strengths are so I know where to go with the ball and what our defense should be doing," Paschall said while getting ready for North Hall's second-round opponent, East Jackson (the Lady Trojans won in a sweep and are in the state quarterfinals).
"I feel more focused (in the playoffs) and need to be because every team we play is going to play so different."
There's pressure that comes with being a classification's top team. That pressure mounts when playoff time rolls around because with a No. 1 ranking comes expectation. Throw in the fact that the North Hall volleyball team has rallied around the idea that they have unfinished business to attend to this season after making the Class AAA state semifinals last year, and the pressure could be overwhelming.
With a tone setter like Paschall, however, the Trojans lean less toward worrying about expectations and pressure, and more toward taking it all in while taking it all in stride.
"Coach (Hughes) had a talk with us and said that this is the last month of volleyball for a lot of us and that we needed to treat every game and every practice like it was our last," Paschall said. "There's been a shift in our team because of that talk and we know there can be no dilly-dallying."
"I think we did well (in the opening round)," Paschall continued. "It felt good to get it over with and get it done and get back to work for the opponents down the road. We let a few dumb things happen and there's always room for improvement, but we did well...we can do better, but we did well."