SANFORD – The Richmond Senior High School Lady Raiders volleyball team faced its toughest competition of the season Tuesday, but managed to defeat Lee County High School (2-2) three games to one.
For the first time all season, the Lady Raiders (3-0) didn’t sweep their opponent in straight games. Dropping the first game 26-24 to the Lady Yellow Jackets, head coach Shellie Wimpey realized her girls didn’t get as fast of a start as they wanted to. After making a few small adjustments and covering their hitters, Richmond swept the final three games 25-18, 25-22 and 25-20.
“Lee County is always great competition,” Wimpey said. “They block really well, and move around the court well. They’re also great at serving. Playing them always makes us a better team.”
As Richmond won its third consecutive non-conference match, the senior core showed leadership on the court that gave the Lady Raiders the boost they needed to make the comeback. Senior outside hitter Altman Griffin lit up the stat sheet, matching her season high with 14 kills and had 17 digs. Senior middle hitter Owen Bowers may have had her best performance of the year, driving home a match-high 15 kills.
Seniors Brianna Baysek and Mackenzie Webb were also essential in overcoming the early deficit. Baysek tallied 10 kills of her own, while Webb helped out with 44 assists and 21 digs. Sophomore defensive specialist Layne Maultsby held things down defensively, digging the ball 15 times to set up scoring plays.
“Owen did a great job up front tonight,” Wimpey said. “She’s scoring a lot of points for us and plays aggressive up at the net in defending other teams. Layne has also really stepped up at libero and is playing really well in the back.”
With hopes of repeating as Sandhills Athletic Conference champions, the Lady Raiders are gaining experience by facing tough non-conference opponents. Wimpey is glad to see her team coming together, and is proud of their effort to overcome adversity early on.
Griffin, who is the reigning 2016 conference player of the year, now has 36 kills in three matches. But Wimpey would like to see her star outside hitter get more chances.
“I wish we could have gotten Altman some more opportunities,” Wimpey said. “Our passes weren’t the best (tonight, therefore Mackenzie wasn’t able to push a lot of sets on the net to the outside. But the girls played with a lot of heart tonight and I am very proud of the way they were able to adjust.”
The junior varsity team (2-1) picked up its second consective win, winning in two sets 25-21 and 25-16. Freshman middle hitter Jekerra Covington led with eight kills, one ace and one assist. Sophomore setter Carley Lambeth added one kill, and racked up a season-high 12 assists.
“The girls played really well tonight,” junior varsity head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “We are still waiting for better communication. But we got to play some other girls tonight (freshmen Kearston Bruce and Kelly Hoffman). I’m happy to see how they were able to fulfill their expected role.
The Lady Raiders return home Wednesday after starting the season with three straight road matches. Richmond will host non-conference opponent Anson High School (1-1) for its second of three matches in as many days. Junior varsity will get things started at 4:30 p.m., followed by varsity at 6 p.m.