Home Local Sports Lady Raiders enter win column against Purnell Swett in home opener

Lady Raiders enter win column against Purnell Swett in home opener

The Lady Raiders celebrate after Catherine Dennis (right) notched one of her team-high nine kills. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — A much more decisive team showed up for the Lady Raiders during Wednesday’s home opener.

A night after failing to win a set in its first match of the year, Richmond rebounded with a 3-1 win over former conference opponent Purnell Swett High School.

The Lady Raiders controlled the tempo in the first, third and fourth sets, winning by scores of 25-14, 24-26, 25-15 and 25-23.

Head coach Ashleigh Larsen went with a different starting lineup on Wednesday, something she said worked to the advantage of the Lady Raiders.

As a team, Richmond had 29 kills, 48 digs, 12 aces and eight blocks. Senior middle hitter Catherine Dennis had a team-high nine kills and five blocks, adding two digs.

Junior middle hitter Katie Way notched four of her six kills in a pivotal third set, while senior outside hitter Quston Leviner found the floor with six kills, including three in the fourth set and the match-winner.

Juniors Makailah Jackson and Christi Jacobs both had three kills, and junior Addy Hollingsworth and sophomore Ava Edmondson each had one. 

Edmondson rattled off a team-high six aces, which featured four in the third frame, and matched junior libero Allie Rodgers with a team-high 13 digs. Junior Jenna Gardner added double-digit digs with 10 and chipped in two aces.

Sophomore setter Ava Edmondson served six aces in Richmond’s win on Wednesday. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

With Edmondson starting the serving rotation in the first set, the Lady Raiders jumped out to a 5-0 lead. Leading 10-5 later in the set, the first of Leviner’s kills started an 8-3 run. 

That stretch featured two Dennis kills, an ace from Gardner and solo kills from Jackson, Edmondson and Jacobs.

Richmond’s largest lead of the first set was 11 points, 20-9, and a serving error by the Lady Rams gave the Lady Raiders the first set.

A 5-5 tie early in the second frame saw Purnell Swett take a small lead and maintain it throughout most of the set. Kills by Dennis and Jacobs, along with an Edmondson ace, kept the deficit within three points.

Jackson delivered a kill from the center of the net, which was followed by a Rodgers ace to make it a 17-16 deficit. Jacobs helped pull ahead 23-22 with a push at the net, but Purnell Swett (2-1) closed on a 4-1 run.

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Junior Makailah Jackson drills home a kill in the second set. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

The same momentum from the first set returned for the Lady Raiders in the third stanza, which saw the team roll on a 10-0 run to take a 17-9 lead. 

Edmondson impressed from the serving line with four aces during that span, and Way notched two kills. Hollingsworth ended the spurt with her lone kill, a cross-court smash.

Another kill from Way, coupled with a Leviner kill and a Rodgers ace extended the lead. Dennis and senior Joy Styles combined for a block at the net, and a hitting error by Purnell Swett and a Dennis kill ended the third.

The four set was close and Richmond found itself down 14-10. But two 4-0 runs in the middle part of the frame gave the Lady Raiders a 21-17 lead.

Gardner served the first stretch, using an ace and a Leviner kill to tie the set at 16 points. Styles was at the line during the second run, which featured a Dennis block and several hitting errors by the visitors.

In the final couple of possessions, Way notched her final kill and Leviner iced the win with a kill from the left side.

Junior Jenna Gardner collects one of her 10 digs against Purnell Swett. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

The Lady Raiders (1-1) will cap their busy first week of play with another non-conference road match on Thursday. Richmond will travel to Uwharrie Charter Academy (0-0), starting at 6 p.m.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Senior middle hitter Catherine Dennis (9 kills, 5 blocks) and head coach Ashleigh Larsen discuss Richmond getting into the win column.

JV Lady Raiders win second match to start season

In action prior to the varsity match, the Richmond junior varsity volleyball team collected its second win in as many nights.

Hosting Purnell Swett, the JV Lady Raiders won in two sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-12.

Head coach Melissa Dennis’ team improved to 2-0 and will also travel to Uwharrie Charter Academy on Thursday. Play will begin at 4:30 p.m.

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Kyle Pillar is a nine-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.