Home Local Sports Early lead undone for Lady Raiders at Montgomery Central

Early lead undone for Lady Raiders at Montgomery Central

Senior Katie Way punches the ball over the net for a kill during the third set of Tuesday's match. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

TROY — A fast start during Tuesday’s match didn’t hold up for the Richmond Senior High School volleyball team.

Getting the edge early, the Lady Raiders couldn’t even their non-conference series with Montgomery Central High School.

Despite winning the first set, Richmond fell 3-1 in another contested matchup. Set scores were 25-16, 18-25, 14-25 and 24-26.

Richmond’s lone loss during the first week of play came against the Lady Timberwolves (5-0). Head coach Ashleigh Larsen noted the team responded better to Montgomery Central’s strong play at the middle of the net.

“We made improvements from when we played them last week even though it was the same outcome,” Larsen said. “We didn’t miss as many serves and that was something we worked on in practice.

“The girls came out rolling in the first set, and I thought we were going to keep it going,” she added. “That’s something we have to work on, just keep that mindset that’s going to give them the drive to keep the momentum going.”

Senior defensive specialist Jenna Gardner makes a dig during the third set. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Richmond rolled out to a 10-6 lead in the first set, setting the tempo with a strong attack at the net. A 5-0 run helped make it 15-9.

During that stretch, senior right side hitter Keyoni Nicholson served an ace and senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson delivered a big kill. Junior setter Ava Edmondson also added a point with an athletic tip at the net.

Extending the lead, Edmondson had a kill, which was followed by kills from senior middle hitter Katie Way and freshman middle hitter Riley McDonald on consecutive volleys. Senior outside hitter Addy Hollingsworth joined the scoring parade with a kill to open the lead to 20-13.

Down the stretch of the first set, Richmond closed on a 5-3 run to take the early lead. McDonald had two kills, senior defensive specialist Allie Rodgers aced a serve and Way delivered the set-winning kill.

The second set saw several ties early, as Jackson and McDonald each found the hardwood for three kills each to take a 7-6 advantage. 

After being tied at 8-8, Montgomery Central took a three-point lead before Way roared back to knot it at 11 points. Way picked up another kill before rattling off consecutive aces.

But a 14-7 run by the Lady Timberwolves tied the match 1-1. Richmond trailed by as many as 10 points, but kills from McDonald, Jackson and Nichols kept the set alive.

The Lady Raiders looked to jump ahead again in the third set, taking a 9-6 lead thanks to six straight points scored. Way started the run with a kill and Hollingsworth added a pair of spikes.


Ties at 10 and 11 points saw the momentum shift in Montgomery Central’s favor, which outscored Richmond 14-3 to win the third. Hollingsworth and Way had two of those points on kills, while the other came on a net violation.

Digging their heels in, the Lady Raiders fired off to an 11-6 lead in the fourth set. Jackson and McDonald contributed two kills each during the run, Hollingsworth had one kill, Rodger served an ace and Way capped the run with a perfect serve.

Two more McDonald kills built the lead to 13-9, but the Lady Timberwolves tied it on a stretch of four straight points. Aces from freshman libero Kenley Smith and Nichols, pair with four errors put Richmond back ahead 19-14.

But the comeback attempt fizzled out for Richmond, which was outscored 12-5 during the final 17 points. McDonald’s two kills and a kill from the back row by Smith made it set point at 24-22, but a 4-0 run by Montgomery Central ended it.

Freshman libero Kenley Smith serves an ace during the fourth set. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

“We did a better job adjusting to their middle hitters tonight,” Larsen explained. “I know we didn’t get them all, but No. 13 (Madison Henderson) had some great kills. Sometimes you can’t stop them all.

“Jenna (Gardner) and Allie did a great job adjusting to their positions and moving around. I moved the front row around blocking-wise to try and give them different looks to see if we could change it up.”

Up next for Richmond (2-2) will be a non-conference road match at Uwharrie Charter Academy (3-1) on Thursday. Play will start at 6 p.m.

JV volleyball team wins third straight match

The Richmond junior varsity volleyball team and head coach Melissa Dennis notched their third consecutive win on Tuesday. 

Also playing at Montgomery Central, the JV Lady Raiders earned a 2-0 win. Set scores were 25-18 and 25-19.

The victory over the JV Lady Timberwolves completed the season sweep for Richmond. Last week, the JV Lady Raiders won in three sets.

“I could tell during warmups they were ready to play,” Dennis said. “They came out with great energy and we had really great defense during the first game, as well as some great serves.

“The second game we made a few mistakes at the net and that made them a little hesitant. But once they found their rhythm again, they started making aggressive plays.”

The JV Lady Raiders (3-1) will also play at Uwharrie Charter on Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m.

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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.