ROCKINGHAM – Even though the Hoke County High School Lady Bucks varsity volleyball team showed bursts of momentum, it still couldn’t muster enough to end the Lady Raider’s historic winning streak Tuesday.
Earning its 18th straight win of the season, Richmond (18-0, 11-0 Sandhills Athletic Conference) overcame a small second-game deficit to trounce the Lady Bucks (10-10, 6-5 SAC) in straight sets. The Lady Raiders won 25-14, 25-20 and 25-15.
It appears as though the (anticipated pressure) of finishing the season a perfect 22-0 isn’t affecting the Lady Raiders, as they handled business without much struggle. According to head coach Shellie Wimpey, Richmond worked well defensively and battled hard despite lacking “big match intensity.”
“We started a little slow tonight, but we found our rhythm,” Wimpey said. “We were behind early in every game. That happens to us when we don’t face a rival; we become complacent in the sense that we don’t bring that big energy level. But we made adjustments.”
Richmond started the match slow by regular standards, while Hoke managed to stay even through the first 20 points. Tied at 10 points apiece, senior outside hitter Altman Griffin broke the floodgates open with a kill that started a 5-0 run for the Lady Raiders.
Trailing 16-11, Hoke head coach Shawna Monroe called a timeout in an attempt to rally her troops, but to no avail. Wimpey’s squad went on a 9-2 run to win the first set by a match-best 11 points, ending on senior middle hitter Brianna Baysek’s kill.
Leading the way offensively for the Raiders was Griffin, who had a team-high in kills (10) and added 10 digs. Baysek finished the night with five kills, one dig and one block. Senior middle hitter Owen Bowers had a good night at the serving line, tallying three aces (all in the first game), adding three kills and three digs.
Defensively, sophomore defensive specialist Layne Maultsby collected a team-high 13 digs. Wimpey acknowledged Maultsby’s play from the back row, as well as Savannah Lampley and Allexis Swinney’s play.
“All three of them dug the ball really well,” Wimpey said. “They got tough balls up to Mackenzie (Webb) to set the ball to our hitters. Sometimes you have to rely on your defense to set up your offense, and that’s what happened tonight.
The second set was the closest of the night, as Hoke showed spurts of sound defense to force long rallies and a few Richmond mistakes. The Lady Raiders allowed Hoke to go on a 5-0 run of its own, falling behind 9-6. Richmond managed to tie the set at 12, before outscoring the Lady Bucks 13-8 to finish the set.
In the final game of the night, the Lady Raiders wrapped up their 22nd victory by getting out an early lead and ending on a 10-6 run.
“Tonight I was able to get good passes to Mackenzie,” Maultsby said. “It’s my job to get balls out of the back row to our setter. We’re working really well as a team right now, so everything just clicks like it’s supposed to.
The Lady Raiders junior varsity team (15-3, 11-0) also won in straight sets Tuesday, holding off their opponent 25-18, 25-14.
“The girls played a little sluggish tonight,” head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “I’m happy to have the win, but I wish they would play with the intensity they showed against Pinecrest and Jack Britt last week. But I am hoping to have more offense show up later this week.”
Sophomore outside hitter Madison Jordan had nine digs, while freshman middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson led with four kills.
Both teams are in action home Wednesday (West Montgomery High School, 5:30 p.m.) and on the road Thursday (Lumberton High School, 6 p.m.).