ROCKINGHAM – It’s no surprise that the Lady Raiders volleyball team has been good this season, going a perfect 25-0 in regular season and Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament play. And now they’re being rewarded.
After shutting out Pinecrest High School in three sets Wednesday to take the 2017 SAC tournament crown, Richmond received a No. 2 seed in the west bracket of the North Carolina 4-A state playoffs.
According to the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, the only team who bested the Raiders for the No. 1 seed (in the west bracket) was Ronald Reagan High School (Forsyth County), which went 25-1 on its season and is ranked as the seventh best team in the state.
With the second-seeded position comes a first-round bye on Saturday, and the Lady Raiders will take that time to practice and prepare for their second-match.
“We have to make sure we’re working hard on defense every day,” Wimpey said about getting ready for the second round after Wednesday’s win. “We’ve got to work on our serve/receive because sometimes we struggle with that.
“We have to play our game,” Wimpey continued. “We can’t let anyone get in our head. And we have to do what we do best.”
Richmond will host its second-round match, and the Lady Raiders will see the winner of the No. 15 Lake Norman and No. 18 Hoke County. Their opening-round match is Saturday.
At the onset of the regular season in August, Wimpey’s team had set the bar high for itself. The initial goal was to get more wins than in 2016 (15). They crossed that achievement off the list on September 26 on the road at Pinecrest High School, and followed up a few days later by setting the program’s new single-season record in wins against Jack Britt High School.
Then the Lady Raiders’ focus shifted to something bigger and bolder: to go a perfect 22-0 in the regular season. And that, too, was accomplished.
In what Richmond players and its coaches have described as what can be considered a “whirlwind” of a season, the bus doesn’t stop here. In order to achieve its new goal of winning the 4-A state championship, the Lady Raiders need to win their next three matches to make it to the west bracket’s semifinal match on Tuesday, October 31.
If they were to make it to the state championship game, the Lady Raiders would have three days off before contending for the title on Saturday, November 4.
Coming out of the east bracket, No. 1 Green Hope High School (Wake County, 26-2) and No. 2 Cardinal Gibbons High School (Wake County, 18-5) pose as potential threats. Richmond could also see a familiar face in No. 10 Mallard Creek High School (Charlotte-Mecklenburg, 19-7) during the third round of the west bracket. The Lady Mavericks eliminated Richmond in the 2016 state playoffs, 3-0 in the second round.
Tuesday’s second round match is set for 7 p.m. at Raiders Gym. Who the Lady Raiders play they won’t know until Saturday night, but it doesn’t matter. Their eyes are set on who they’ll play the first Saturday of November.
And hopefully with that match comes a new banner to be hung amongst the rafters at Richmond.