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Gates downs Northampton in semis

GATESVILLE – Gates County High School advanced to the Tar-Roanoke Athletic Conference finals in three sets.

The Lady Red Barons’ volleyball victory wasn’t exactly as easy as it sounds, however, as they got a battle from the number four seeded Lady Rams of Northampton County High School – East.

Gates won the first set 25-10, but Northampton bounced back and led late in the second game before giving way to the Barons 25-20. Gates won the final set 25-11.

After Gates secured the first set thanks in large part to a pair of late kills by Danielle Adams, the second game was much closer.

Northampton got out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a key serve by Brandi Keeter and then pushed out ahead 10-3 when Marendy Cannon rolled off four unanswered points on her serve, including an ace. Patrice Williams also had a block during the stretch.

Erica Bradley had a kill to stop the Northampton run, but it was the serve of Kirby Hofler that made the difference. The senior rolled off seven straight points that rallied the Barons to a 12-11 lead, including an ace and three other unreturned serves.

Northampton-East Head Coach David Hasty used a timeout that helped the Lady Rams end the threat and take over their own serve. Williams then scored the next six points for East including a pair of digs herself as the visitors led 17-12.

Lauren Burgess delivered a kill for Gates that stopped the spurt, but Bridget Lucas countered with one for Northampton that gave the Rams a 19-13 lead.

Caitlin Sawyer recorded a dig that helped Gates get the serve back and then Jasmine Raynor rolled off eight straight points. It was Adams, however, who was the key during the run as she had a trio of kills on the spurt. Raynor, also added an ace during the run and Burgess had a kill that made it 22-19.

East stopped the run, but another kill by Adams allowed Hoskins to serve the final two points for East as the Lady Barons won 25-20.

Northampton raced to an early advantage in set number three as the Rams scored the first four points. During the run, all serves by Erica Beam, Alexus Shoulders made a diving save that aided the Barons.

Junior Jenna Evans had a kill for Gates County that stopped the spurt. Raynor then rolled off four straight points on her serve with Adams again recording a trio of kills during the run as Gates led 5-4.

The Red Barons still had that one-point edge (now 8-7) when Burgess took over with the serve. She scored 10 unanswered points, including a trio of aces and two more that were not returned. She also received help from her offense as Adams, Hofler and Bradley all had kills in the spurt that gave Gates a 17-7 lead.

Bradley had another kill moments later to help reestablish the 10-point lead and then the senior added a couple of serves. Evans got another kill as well to give Gates a 20-10 lead.

The Rams got within 22-13, but a kill by Hofler ended the comeback threat and Gates won 25-11.

“I’m a little disappointed with our season,” Hasty said afterwards. “There were a couple games that could have gone either way, but the breaks didn’t go our way.

“I don’t feel like we gave any away, just the breaks went against us,” he added.

The Rams will now await their trip in the first round of the North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs. Hasty said he hopes the number four seed will make the most of it.

“I would love to show another conference what we’re about in the Tar-Roanoke,” he said. “I think we have the capability of pulling a first round upset.”