LAURINBURG — In what proved to be an intense match that saw two of the top three volleyball teams in the Sandhills Athletic Conference duke it out, Thursday’s outcome wasn’t what the Lady Raiders wanted.
On the road for a crucial conference match at Scotland High School, a slow start by Richmond, coupled with a lost lead in the second set, led to Richmond suffering just its second loss of the season in a dozen matches.
Scotland won in four sets, 3-1, using set scores of 26-24, 25-23, 13-25 and 25-21 to earn the win. The Lady Raiders had chances to win late in the first and second sets, but Scotland managed to pull away both times.
The loss by the Lady Raiders ended their five-match winning streak, which was tied for the longest of the season, after starting the year 5-0. Richmond now sits in third in the SAC standings.
“It’s not what we wanted,” assistant coach Melissa Dennis said. “We really felt the loss tonight. But the girls kept it a tight game and the biggest thing is that they really didn’t let the atmosphere in the gym get to them.”
Ten ties in the first set saw the two teams battle for control and roll out to a 12-12 game. After a Scotland push, Dennis called a timeout with Richmond trailing 21-14. The break worked in Richmond’s favor, as the Lady Raiders charged on a 10-3 run that saw two kills each from senior Jadyn Johnson and junior Jakerra Covington.
Tied at 24 points, a Scotland kill and a Richmond error resulted in a contested 26-24 win for the home team.
Richmond jumped out to a 10-4 lead in the second set, and moved ahead 16-9 thanks to a series of errors by Scotland. But a 10-4 spurt by the Lady Fighting Scots tied the second stanza at 20 points and pulled the momentum in their favor.
Junior Georgia Grace Anderson tallied a kill and junior Taylor Chappell served an ace to keep the set tied at 23, but again, two late points from Scotland saw Richmond fall.
The Lady Raiders’ best set of the night was the third game, which was never in doubt from the start. Covington picked up two quick kills, and Anderson mirrored her fellow middle hitter with two of her own to give Richmond a 10-3 lead.
Senior Madison Jordan joined the mix with a kill and Chappell and Anderson teamed up for a block before Chappell send a cross-court kill to the deck to put Richmond up 14-3. Keeping the pressure on and fighting to extend the match, Richmond used a block by Anderson for the final point and the 25-13 set win.
The final set of the night was similar to the first two for Richmond, seeing the Lady Raiders chip away at a Scotland lead but come up just short. An 8-5 run in the middle of the frame pulled Richmond within three points, 18-15, which forced Scotland to call a timeout.
Chappell picked up another block a few plays later and Anderson notched a kill to make it a 24-21 deficit before Scotland ended the match.
“Georgia Grace had some great serves to bring us back in that second game,” Dennis commented. “Our pursuits were great and our middle hitters were big at the net. But we don’t want the feeling of losing, so we have to make sure we take this next week to hit it really hard to prepare for when we play Scotland again.
“I have all the confidence that our girls will do what needs to be done going into these next few games,” she closed.
Richmond’s stat line consisted of seven aces, 36 kills, 53 digs, 31 assists and seven blocks. Covington (13) and Anderson (11) both hit double-digit kills, with Johnson adding five more. Chappell and senior libero Layne Maultsby added two aces each.
Senior setter Carley Lambeth dished out a team-high 28 assists, while Maultsby went to work against some tough opposing hitters, and racked up 21 digs during the four sets, including an impressive 11 digs in the third game.
Johnson chipped in 12 digs and Jordan finished the night with three kills and eight digs. Covington led the team with four blocks, and Anderson and Chappell had two each.
Richmond (10-2, 4-2 SAC) will look to reset and start another winning streak with two matches next week. The Lady Raiders will travel to non-conference Lee County High School (1-9) on Wednesday and open its second round of SAC play at Purnell Swett High School (2-10, 1-5 SAC) on Thursday. Both matches will begin around 6 p.m.
JV Lady Raiders swept by Scotland
Ahead of the varsity match, the JV Lady Raiders fell 2-0 to Scotland behind set scores of 21-25 and 18-25. Freshman Catherine Dennis had a team-high four aces and sophomore Erial Norton led the way with three kills.
Falling to 6-6 on the season, the JV team will open against Lee County and Purnell Swett at 5 p.m. both days.