Home Local Sports Lady Raiders sweep season opener

Lady Raiders sweep season opener

Head coach Ashleigh Larsen (green) greets the team after winning a set during Monday's season opener. (Michelle Parish/The Richmond Observer)

ROCKINGHAM — Strong play at the middle of the net and a solid back row performance fueled the Richmond Senior High School volleyball team to a win on Monday. 

Notching the school’s first victory of the 2023-24 school year, the Lady Raiders swept Harnett Central High School to earn a 3-0 victory. 

The win over the non-conference Lady Trojans was Richmond’s first season-opening victory since the 2020 campaign. 

Set scores were 25-19, 27-25 and 25-12. 

“Our middles had a really big game tonight. Both Katie Way and Riley McDonald had some big kills to keep the momentum going,” head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “Our defense worked very well and we made a lot of adjustments to make some great digs.

“Allie Rodgers, Jenna Gardner, Kenley Smith, Ava Edmondson and Keyoni Nichols were all back there and made a lot of good plays on defense,” she added. “Riley and Katie had a few solo shutdowns at the net and there were a couple double blocks.”

Richmond opened the first set on a 10-5 run before taking a 16-12 lead. The Lady Raiders scored nine of the next 16 points to take a one-set lead. 

The second stanza started quickly for Richmond, which rolled out to a 7-1 lead. But a battling Harnett Central team rallied to tie the set at 19 points. 

Trailing 21-23, the Lady Raiders dug their heels in on defense and created points to tie it at 23 and 25 points. 

Going to extra points, Richmond stole the second set with the next two points to win 27-25. 

The team’s best set was the third one, which iced the match in easy fashion. A 10-4 run began the set in the Lady Raiders’ favor. 

That lead grew to 20-11, before a 5-1 run ended the match and put Richmond in the win column.

“Overall, we just stayed positive when we got down,” Larsen closed. “We were able to get ourselves back on a roll when we got down in the second set. It was good to see the positivity from start to finish.

“It was a good team win and I told all 13 girls I was really proud of their efforts and the outcome.”


The Lady Raiders (1-0) play again on Tuesday at home against non-conference Montgomery Central High School (1-0). Action will begin around 6 p.m. after the end of the junior varsity match.

JV volleyball team falls in three sets

Ahead of the varsity match, the Richmond junior varsity volleyball team came up short to Harnett Central. 

Playing three sets, the comeback attempt came up short in a 1-2 loss.

Set scores were 16-25, 25-13 and 13-15.

“The first game we came out a little nervous,” head coach Melissa Dennis said. “We made a lot of communication errors, but we made adjustments the second game and they found their groove. 

“The third game, we dug ourselves a 6-0 hole and when you only play to 15, it’s hard to climb back,” she added. “I am proud of the way they fought that third game. I am especially proud of them making quick adjustments and their attitudes on the court.”

Also back in action on Tuesday, the JV Lady Raiders (0-1) will host Montgomery Central at 5 p.m.

Sports editor’s note: No game statistics were available for the varsity or junior varsity matches at the time of publication. Game information contributed by head coach Ashleigh Larsen and Mica Way. 

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-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.