ROCKINGHAM – For the second consecutive night, the Richmond Senior High School Raiders varsity volleyball team held their opponent scoreless, as the Lady Raiders earned their seventh consecutive win to start the 2017 campaign Wednesday night.
Hosting Lee County High School, Richmond (7-0) picked up its second non-conference victory of the season against the Lady Yellow Jackets (3-3), winning 25-8, 25-21 and 25-19.
Head coach Shellie Wimpey’s team has developed a theme this season of starting each match hot from the first serve. Crediting her girls with “putting forth a lot of intensity early on,” the Lady Raiders barely let Lee County make a dent in the scoring column before the first game drew to a close.
“We came out with a lot of intensity tonight,” Wimpey said. “We were able to establish great hits. Our girls are always excited to get the game started on a good note, and we did that tonight. Later on, Lee County blocked better and played stronger defense in the second and third games, but we adjusted and took care of business.”
Displaying her best performance of the season, senior middle hitter Brianna Baysek tallied seven kills, four digs and two blocks. She also picked up six points off the serve. Baysek proved to be an instrumental part of Richmond’s offensive and defensive surges during the final two games
“We came out tough in the first game, but we slacked off in the second and third games,” Baysek said following the match. “Being a senior, I had to step up. In the third game, I had some really good sets which allowed me get my kills.”
The Lady Raiders had several players with impressive stat sheets, with senior outside hitter Altman Griffin leading the way with a game-high 11 kills, seven aces and seven digs. Senior middle hitter Owen Bowers and junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley each totaled five kills on the night.
Despite developing a knack for quick, explosive starts, Richmond has also found it commonplace this season to fall into a lull during games two and three. Wimpey, who can’t pinpoint a reason for the stagnant play, says that her team is aware of the issue, but continue to persevere. And that was the case during Wednesday’s match.
The second game was much more contested by Lee County, as both teams traded points and lead changes, ultimately tied at 16 points apiece. Richmond took a slight 19-16 lead, but committed several unforced errors, giving the lead back to the Lady Yellow Jackets, 21-19. Griffin leapt high above the net to deliver a game-tying kill which sent Baysek to the serving line.
Following two consecutive volleys sent out of bounds off of Baysek serves, Lee County faltered and never recovered. After a timeout, Baysek finished her 4-0 game-ending run when Griffin tapped the ball just over the net between two sprawling Lady Yellow Jackets players.
In her best game of the night, Baysek stole the show in the third game, tallying six kills, one block and one dig. Richmond trailed for the first time of the night 4-3, before Baysek took control. Fighting its way back, the Lady Raiders went ahead 11-8, but several errors, including a Griffin serve into the net, allowed Lee County to tie the game at 15. Ending the game on a 10-4 run, Baysek picked up her momentum-changing block to give the Raiders a 23-17 lead, and followed it up with a strong right-handed kill. On the match’s final point, Baysek served a beauty that was bumped out of bounds by a Lee County defender.
“We have our eye on the prize again this year,” Baysek. “We are working really hard and come into every game prepared. We want to win (conference) again, that’s the bottom line.”
The Lady Raiders junior varsity team (5-2) also defeated Lee County for the second time this season, winning in straight sets 25-14 and 25-22. Utilizing a wealth of her players, JV head coach Ashleigh Larsen is beginning to see her young team put some great sequences together.
“Our girls played really well tonight,” Larsen said. “Our passing and setting is coming together nicely, and it showed tonight. We are also showing a stronger presence at the front of the net. But I would like to see a more aggressive side of the girls. I know they’re capable.”
Freshmen middle hitter Jakerra Covington and outside hitter Kelly Hoffman played well around the floor, contributing many of Richmond’s points. Covington had a match-high five kills, while Hoffman added three more and one dig.
The varsity Lady Raiders, who remain perfect on the year, sits alone atop the Sandhills Athletic Conference. Currently, newly-added Jack Britt High School sits in second place, having won five straight matches after dropping its season opener. Richmond is in a three-way tie with Jack Britt and Hoke County High School in the conference standings; all teams are 2-0.
“Resiliency has played a large part of our early successes this season,” Wimpey said. “Playing several matches a week can be tough, but our girls do awesome. We are ready to win every game, which in large part, is because we have so many seniors who want to succeed.”
The Lady Raiders will play their third game in as many nights, as they will travel to face their toughest competition of the season in Jack Britt Thursday night. Junior varsity is to start at 5 p.m., followed by varsity at 6 p.m.