Home Local Sports Aggressive net play helps Lady Raiders sweep Pine Forest

Aggressive net play helps Lady Raiders sweep Pine Forest

Freshman Riley McDonald (9) records one of her eight kills in the second set. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Ending the first week of play on a high note, the Lady Raider volleyball team bounced back on Wednesday.

Playing its third match in as many nights, Richmond earned its second straight-set victory of the new campaign.

Welcoming in non-conference Pine Forest High School, the Lady Raiders earned a 3-0 win.

Although Richmond took the sweep, the team had to dig its heels in near the end of each set to fight off a resilient Lady Trojans (0-1) squad.

Set scores were 25-22, 25-21 and the Lady Raiders came out on top 29-27 in an extended third frame.

Three games into the season, and with two wins to show, head coach Ashleigh Larsen has kept expanding the team’s depth at all positions.

During Wednesday’s match, multiple Lady Raiders made timely plays on offense or defense to maintain the lead. 

Richmond led the entire first set, led for all but one play early in the second set and trailed just five times (by one point each time) during a third set that featured 10 ties. 

Seven of those even scores came with 21 or more points on the board.

The first set was back-and-forth by both teams, which set the tempo for the rest of the match. Richmond jumped out to a 5-2 lead thanks to four errors and a kill by senior outside hitter Addy Hollingsworth.

Addy Hollingsworth lines up a kill during the first set of Wednesday’s win. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Building their lead, the Lady Raiders used an ace from senior right side hitter Keyoni Nichols and two points via a kill and an ace by senior middle hitter Katie Way to make it a 12-8 lead.

Freshman middle hitter Riley McDonald, who came up big in all three sets, notched her first two kills as part of a 10-5 spread by Richmond in the middle of the set to open it up. 

Kills on consecutive possessions by senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson and Way, coupled with another error, put the Lady Raiders up 19-13.

McDonald tacked on another kill, as she and junior setter Ava Edmondson made it 23-17 with a double block at the net. Pine Forest rallied to score five of the next seven points, but two kills from Hollingsworth iced the set win.

The second set belonged to McDonald, who recorded eight kills and two blocks. Three of those kills came in the first five points for Richmond, which also featured an ace by senior defensive specialist Allie Rodgers.

Way and Jackson found open space on the floor for kills and another McDonald kill extended the lead to 10-5. But the Lady Trojans pulled within two points, 11-9, before the first of McDonald’s two solo blocks gave the team a three-point cushion.

That started a 3-0 spurt for Richmond, which was added to by a Nichols kill and another Rodgers ace. McDonald and Jackson kept the pressure on at the net, each registering another kill to maintain an 18-15 lead.

Hollingsworth found the floor again and three straight points from McDonald (two kills and a block) was followed by an Edmondson ace to make it set point.

Pine Forest made it interesting by rattling off four straight points to make it a three-point deficit, but McDonald spiked her final kill of the set to give Richmond a 2-0 lead.


The already intense match turned up a notch in the final set despite the Lady Raiders leading by as many as seven points. Richmond’s first four points came from Hollingsworth (kill), Edmondson (ace) and Nichols and McDonald (kills).

The two teams battled to ties of 4, 5 and 6 points before a Jackson kill, an ace from senior defensive specialist Jenna Gardner and a hitting error gave Richmond a 9-6 lead.

The 5-0 run ended when Way threw down a kill from the middle of the net and followed with another from the right side when Edmondson set the ball backward to a rising Way.

Ava Edmondson (2) sets the ball to the right side, leading to a Katie Way (14) kill. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Two McDonald kills and two more from Jackson forced Pine Forest to call a timeout with Richmond ahead 16-11. Another big kill from Jackson and three hitting errors got Richmond to 20 points.

But that’s when the Lady Trojans used a 9-1 run to get back into the set and knot the score at 21 points. The score was tied at 22, 23, 25, 26 and 27 points.

During that span, two kills from McDonald, one from Hollingsworth and an Edmondson ace kept the team alive. Jackson’s final kill knotted it for the last time 27-27.

Following a net violation by Pine Forest, Richmond survived the late score when a hitting error landed out of bounds to end the match.

Richmond (2-1) will return to action on Tuesday for its first road match of the season. The Lady Raiders will travel to Montgomery Central High School and look to avenge Tuesday’s loss to the Lady Timberwolves (2-0). Play will start around 6 p.m.

JV team wins second match in a row

The Richmond junior varsity volleyball team overcame a slow start on Wednesday to rally and earn a 2-1 victory over Pine Forest.

After dropping the first set 18-25, the JV Lady Raiders roared back to take the second set 25-11 and the third stanza 15-5.

“We came out a little flat the first set,” head coach Melissa Dennis explained. “But the girls were able to readjust the next two sets and came out excited. Our communication got better as we played, which made a big difference.

“I tried a new lineup tonight and the girls handled it well. It’s never easy to go in with a new lineup without practice, but they did it.”

The JV Lady Raiders (2-1) will play at 5 p.m. on Monday at Montgomery Central.

Sports editor’s note: No game statistics were available for the varsity or junior varsity matches at the time of publication.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.