ROCKINGHAM — A tightly-contested meeting during Tuesday’s volleyball match saw a couple of points go in the wrong direction for the Lady Raiders.
Hosting Montgomery Central High School, Richmond battled through four sets but lost 3-1.
The Lady Raiders, who won the second set, had their chances to win the first and third frames as well. In both cases, late leads were given up.
Set scores during the non-conference match were 20-25, 25-23, 24-26 and 15-25.
“Last night we didn’t see as substantial of a middle presence that we saw tonight,” head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “The two girls we saw tonight had height and could get vertical. We knew it would be a challenge, but the girls did well adjusting to it.
“There were times we shut them down and that was good to see. We slowed down their hitting and our defense did a pretty good job digging up what they could. We just had a few mental mistakes that cost us.”
Richmond opened the first set on a 7-3 run which featured two kills from freshman middle hitter Riley McDonald and another one from senior outside hitter Keyoni Nichols.
An ace from Nichols and a kill by senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson made it 12-6 and forced a timeout.
But a run by the Lady Timberwolves tied the set at 14 points before senior outside hitter Addy Hollingsworth picked up a kill to make it a one-point lead.
Tied at 15 points, Montgomery Central closed on a 10-5 run. Recording the last point of the set for the Lady Raiders on a kill was senior middle hitter Katie Way.
Montgomery Central (2-0) took a 7-3 lead to begin the second set, but a Jackson kill sandwiched by a pair of aces from Nichols gave Richmond a 9-8 advantage.
Kills by Jackson, Way and Hollingsworth kept the score close. A double block from McDonald and Hollingsworth was followed by a McDonald kill and two aces from freshman libero Kenley Smith to make it a 17-16 deficit.
Two kills from Way on assists from junior setter Ava Edmondson added to the scoreboard and an ace from senior defensive specialist Jenna Gardner knotted the score at 19 points.
Using a 6-3 run that featured several errors by Montgomery Central, Richmond tied it again 22-22. A backward hit from Gardner found the floor and a service error made it set point.
McDonald clinched the set win with an athletic play, using one hand to redirect the ball back over the net.
Jackson recorded two kills early in the third set and Smith tacked on another ace to tie it 5-5. With the score knotted at 8 points, a 7-3 run put Richmond ahead. Hollingsworth had two kills and McDonald added another during that stretch to make it 15-11.
After another tie at 15-all, Richmond led by as many as three points in the latter part of the set. Way found the floor for two more kills, the second one tying the score at 22 points. That momentum carried over into a 24-23 lead, courtesy of a Hollingsworth kill.
But Montgomery Central used an error to tie the set and scored the next two points to take a 2-1 lead.
The Lady Raiders struggled in the fourth set, falling behind 16-7 early. Jackson helped carry the team with four kills. Richmond got back in it after four straight errors to trail 18-11.
In the closing part of the match, McDonald and Jackson each tallied one more kill, but it was too little, too late for Richmond.
“The biggest difference between last night and tonight was our amount of missed serves,” Larsen said. “I told them we can’t give up four or five free points in a set.
“I’m proud of the girls for staying out of the net, that was an adjustment,” she closed. “There were bright moments, especially being able to disperse our offense more.”
Closing out a three-game opening week, the Lady Raiders (1-1) will try to get back in the win column on Wednesday. Richmond will host non-conference Pine Forest High School at 6 p.m.
JV Lady Raiders earn first win
After dropping its season opener a day earlier, the Lady Raider junior varsity volleyball team entered the win column.
Also hosting Montgomery Central, the JV Lady Raiders took the match in straight sets to win 2-0. Set scores were 25-23 and 28-26.
Both contested sets, Richmond trailed most of the first set before scoring six straight points to take a 20-15. That cushion proved enough to win the opening stanza.
An 11-4 roll to begin the second set put the JV Lady Raiders ahead. But Montgomery Central rallied to tie the match 22-22.
Going to extra points, an ace by sophomore KaMora Watkins iced the win.
“It was really exciting to see the team win tonight,” head coach Melissa Dennis said. “There were times we were up and down, and it took some effort to get them in a rhythm that was enjoyable. They really focused at the end.
“I threw some different lineups out there and the girls adjusted well. They served better tonight, which is always a nice improvement to see.”
The JV team (1-1) will also host Pine Forest on Wednesday, beginning 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. Deon Cranford contributed to this article.