ROCKINGHAM – When you’re playing well, not only is it fun, but wins often find their way into the record column. And for the Richmond Senior High School Lady Raiders volleyball team, they improved to 5-0 on the season, sweeping Purnell Swett High School in three straight games Thursday.
Richmond (5-0, 1-0) opened Sandhill Athletic Conference play by not allowing the Lady Rams (2-1, 0-1) to score more than 12 points in the first two games. Sweeping an opponent in straight sets for the third time this season, Richmond won 25-12, 25-8 and 25-20.
Entering the season, head coach Shellie Wimpey knew that she had a great core of returning starters, and with the help of some underclassmen, her team has dominated competition. Of the 17 sets played so far in 2017, Richmond has won all but two.
“The girls played really well tonight,” Wimpey said. “When we’re winning, it’s a more enjoyable playing experience. I’m glad we were able to open conference play with a solid win.”
With the start of conference play, the Lady Raiders fired off an offensive explosion that, if it continues, could help propel them back to conference champions.
Senior outside hitter Altman Griffin, who has fulfilled the leadership expectations set by Wimpey, added a game-high 14 kills to her already impressive season total of 68 through five matches. She also served up seven aces. Senior middle hitter Owen Bowers supported Griffin by tacking on seven additional kills.
The offense hasn’t been an issue this season, and the defense, according to Wimpey, is improving. Her team has been focusing on blocking and digging, and it’s starting to generate results. Senior setter Mackenzie Webb, who dished out 29 assists, matched Griffin for a game-high 12 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Layne Maultsby finished the night with 10 digs.
“We’ve been working on fundamentals in practice, and it’s starting to show,” Wimpey said. “Layne is doing a wonderful job as a sophomore, and she’s a great piece to add to our senior core.”
The junior varsity team (3-2, 1-0) won its second straight match, finishing Thursday’s in two sets 25-10 and 25-22, respectively.
Freshmen middle hitters Georgie Grace Anderson and Jakerra Covington each notched six kills. Sophomore setter Carley Lambeth generated a great stat line, finishing with two aces, one kill, three digs and 11 assists.
“We still have a lot to work on,” junior varsity head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “But a win is a win, and I’ll take that. Our girls were able to dig themselves out of a hole tonight, and that’s a positive.”
The Lady Raiders have Friday and Monday off, returning with three matches next week. Richmond will host SAC opponent Pinecrest High School (1-1, 1-0) Tuesday at 6 p.m. Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., Richmond will play Lee County High School (3-2) for the second time this season, looking to defeat the Lady Yellow Jackets again. They’ll finish the week by returning to SAC play and traveling to newly added Jack Britt High School in Cumberland County. Varsity is set to start play at 6 p.m.