The Lady Trojans, however, couldn’t maintain their high level of play.
After Lassiter lost its 2-1 set advantage, Roswell played the smarter fifth set and handed Lassiter a season-ending 11-25, 29-27, 22-25, 25-16, 15-12 loss.
“(Roswell was) able to get the ball where we weren’t,” Lassiter coach Greg Hodge said. “Sometimes, we didn’t play defense when we were supposed to. There would be times when we would dig a ball, but we couldn’t run our offense because we had a timing issue.”
The loss meant the end for Lassiter (30-20), and it prevented an Area 1AAAAA rematch in Wednesday’s semifinal. Instead, it will be Roswell (38-10) facing Walton at Parkview High School, with a berth into the finals at stake.
Early in the match, Lassiter dominated on serve, finishing with seven first-set aces.
Six came from Becca Ledford, who went on a nine-point service run to give the Lady Trojans a 10-1 lead.
Lassiter’s serving put Roswell off kilter on serve-receive, and the Lady Hornets couldn’t respond to Ledford’s jump serves. It was often a daunting task for Roswell just to get the ball over the net, and hitters Kendal Smith and Carly Crowder enjoyed many free-ball kills.
But that’s when the Lassiter team that had served so well in the first set seemed to fade away. The Lady Trojans did serve better in their victorious third set, but they lost command in the fourth set and barely did anything on serve in the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Roswell team that had looked out of sorts in the first set picked up its play defensively in the second and went on an early service run to take a 6-1 lead.
Even though Lassiter rallied to take an 11-8 second-set lead, the Lady Trojans lost command of their serves. Five service errors in the second set ended up being their demise, and they went on to lose the second set in extra points on a hitting error.
To Lassiter’s credit, it reverted to its first-set form and used it to hold off Roswell in the third set. But it was Roswell which controlled the match from the fourth set on.
Much of that was due to setter Carlyn Gilbert, who finished with match with 41 assists and improved as the match progressed
Hitting errors also began to haunt Lassiter, and it found itself trailing 18-12. And when the Lady Trojans was in position to make a kill, Roswell had its blockers in place. Six of the Lady Hornets’ seven total blocks came after the third set, led by Claire Yakaitis’ 3.5.
When the fifth set arrived, Lassiter struggled just to win a point on serve. Roswell came through with first-ball kills on six of Lassiter’s first seven serve attempts, and the Lady Trojans didn’t win a point until Crowder hit a solo block to cut Roswell’s lead to 11-9.
The Lady Hornets began pulling away in the fifth at 8-6 when top hitter Jennifer Shults hit a two-handed dump that bounced off the top of the net and over to the Lady Trojans’ side of the court. Then, later in the set, a costly hitting error by Lassiter opened a 10-7 lead before an ace by Stephanie Martin put the Lady Hornets in the driver’s seat.
“We definitely knew that Lassiter was coming for us (in the fifth set), and we made them fight for it,” Roswell coach Casey Carr said. “I’m glad we defended the nest.”
After Crowder’s block gave Lassiter a fighting chance in the fifth, the Lady Trojans got called for a double hit, and a block by Shults and Yakaitis put them in a 13-9 hole.
Lassiter continued to battle but Roswell finished the match on first-ball kills by Shults, who had 34 kills total.
Smith finished with 16 kills to lead Lassiter, while Crowder was also in double digits with 12. Ledford finished with eight kills, Becca Arndt and April Davis each had six and Ellen Handlan dished out 40 assists.