Aug. 11—A hard-fought first set Wednesday night provided a glimpse of Gainesville's potential.
The Lady Leopards volleyball team dropped their season opener 3-0 at home to the Red River Rattlers homeschool team. The Rattlers won 27-25, 25-9, 25-14.
Gainesville (0-1) fought hard in the first set but couldn't replicate it the rest of the way.
Red River (1-1) picked up its first win after falling to Callisburg 3-1 Tuesday night.
New Gainesville coach Morgan Matthews, previously an assistant at Callisburg, said the Lady Leopards got a bit tired after the first.
"We're not used to playing that kind of volleyball," Matthews said. "When you play hard like that, you're not used to it. I think that we just have to keep working in practice and getting back to those 25-24 games. We just have to keep working hard and knowing how to put the ball down, and not making mistakes."
Both teams led early in the first set, but the Rattlers appeared to take control with a big run, putting them ahead 12-5. Gainesville rallied ferociously to take a 17-16 lead. The Lady Leopards took the lead on a kill by Kaleigh White following three-straight ace serves from Sydney Giles.
Matthews said players such as Giles with previous varsity experience helped push Gainesville during their runs.
"Last year, (Giles) was on varsity as a freshman," Matthews said. "She has that experience to know that it's her time. She's gotta get up there, and she's gotta do her job. I think she did well with that."
The Rattlers bounced back after losing the lead with a 7-1 run, but Gainesville again answered to take a 25-24 lead. The Lady Leopards served game point, but 3-straight points from Red River gave the Rattlers a 1-0 match lead.
Red River took control after the first. Gainesville led 4-2 early in the second, but the Rattlers had a 7-0 run and a 6-0 run en route to a dominant victory. The momentum continued into the third as the Rattlers led 21-6 at one point.
The Lady Leopards fought well from there, not allowing Red River to score consecutive points again. Gainesville finished the set on an 8-4 run, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
Matthews said the fight her players showed, especially early, is something they can build from as they look to compete for a playoff spot this season.
"I think the fight that we had was amazing that first game," Matthews said. "That to me shows them what they can do. Now, we know what we can do, what we're capable of. We just gotta keep building from there."