ROCKINGHAM — Hoping to stay in contention in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings and compete for a 4A playoff bid, the Richmond volleyball team slugged its way to a win on Thursday.
Back on their home floor, the Lady Raider secured a pivotal 4A conference victory over Hoke County High School.
Completing the regular-season sweep of the Lady Bucks, Richmond won in five sets 3-2. Set scores were 23-25, 25-20, 26-24, 13-25 and 17-15.
In what proved to be a two-and-a-half hour long saga, Richmond and Hoke County stayed within a few points of one another for the majority of the match.
The first set featured 11 ties, including the final one at 20 points. The Lady Bucks took a two-point lead, which led to a timeout called by Richmond head coach Ashleigh Larsen.
Down 23-22, an error and a serving error by the Lady Raiders sandwiched a carry by Hoke County to give the visitors a one-set lead.
Much like the opening set, the second stanza featured several ties early on. Through the first 20 volleys there were eight ties, including a kill from senior middle hitter Katie Way that knotted it 9-9.
A push from junior setter Ava Edmonson on the next rally made it a one-point lead, an advantage Richmond would hold on to save for one time later in the set.
A kill from freshman middle hitter Riley McDonald began a crucial 6-0 run that put Richmond ahead 18-12. Other points came from an ace by freshman defensive specialist Kenley Smith, a kill from senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson and two more strikes from McDonald.
But Hoke County answered with a run of its own to tie the score at 18-all. Following a Richmond timeout, the Lady Raiders closed on a 7-2 run.
Using mostly errors by the Lady Bucks (7-10, 3-6 SAC), back-to-back kills by Jackson and Edmonson tied the match.
The third set was a series of runs by both teams, starting with a 10-3 stretch by the Lady Raiders to jump ahead early. McDonald had two kills, Jackson had a kill and a block, Way struck for two kills and senior right side hitter Keyoni Nichols added an ace.
Runs of 3-0 and 4-0 by Hoke County cut into Richmond’s lead, and both teams traded points to a 20-20 tie. An error by the Lady Bucks and a Way ace on the ensuing serve, coupled with two McDonald kills, made it 24-22.
Tied again at 24 points, a Hoke County error and a Way push ended the frame.
The fourth set belonged to the Lady Bucks, who rolled to a 15-10 lead. Using a 9-1 run to make it set point, Hoke County allowed two points before forcing the decisive fifth set.
A 5-5 tie early in the fifth was broken open by Richmond, which won eight of the next 11 points. Up 13-8, Richmond saw its lead disappear as both teams tied again at 14 and 15 points.
But a 2-0 run capped by one final error by Hoke County resulted in the comeback win for the Lady Raiders.
Remaining in fourth place in the SAC, the Lady Raiders (8-9, 5-4 SAC) will begin their final full week of the regular season at home against third-place Union Pines (12-4, 5-2 SAC) on Tuesday. The varsity team will begin at 6 p.m.
JV Lady Raiders fall late
Hosting Hoke County, the junior varsity Lady Raiders lost in three sets on Thursday.
After falling behind 1-0 in a 18-25 loss in the first set, Richmond rallied late in the second to tie the match. Down 15-21, the JV Lady Raiders went on a 9-2 stretch to earn a 25-23 win.
The excitement of that win quickly dispersed as the team trailed 4-7 in the third.
Richmond tied it three times, the last time at 10-10 thanks to a kill by freshman Kaylan Parsons. But five straight points by Hoke County secured the victory 15-10.
“We had an injury within the first two points of the game and had to make some unexpected lineup changes,” head coach Melissa Dennis explained. “That threw the girls off for a minute, but they rallied and were able to earn back some points.
“In the second game they looked a lot more comfortable. We should have been a little more aggressive during the third game.”
The JV team (10-7, 4-5 SAC) will also play Union Pines at home on Tuesday, beginning at 5 p.m.