ROCKINGHAM – Even with the ante upped with the beginning of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament, the Richmond Senior High School Lady Raiders varsity volleyball team remained flawless.
Entering tournament play a perfect 22-0, and ranked as the No. 1 seed, Richmond hosted bottom seed No. 8 Seventy-First High School Monday night in what would prove to be another outstanding performance by the Lady Raiders. They ousted the Lady Falcons in three straight sets 25-15, 25-15 and 25-12.
Monday’s match was the third time the two teams have met during the 2017 campaign, and Richmond (23-0, 15-0 SAC) had defeated Seventy-First 3-0 in both matches (September 12, and October 10). Entering Monday, the Lady Falcons had lost their previous 16 matches.
“Tonight was a tough match because we had to play our game and stay hyped up rather than playing down to their level,” senior setter Mackenzie Webb said. “We used this game to practice some new stuff and work on what we need to in order to prepare for the games ahead.”
As the Lady Raiders’ quest to earn their second conference title in as many years continues, Richmond’s eyes are on a larger prize: the North Carolina 4-A State Championship title. And the sweep of Seventy-First (1-17, 0-15 SAC) is just another chapter in this year’s storybook tale.
In the first game, the Lady Raiders experienced a slow start, trailing early on 2-0. In a back-and-forth affair, Richmond finally got its act together and went on a 5-0 run to jump out to a 13-9 lead.
Following a Seventy-First timeout, head coach Shellie Wimpey’s team found its footing to close out the set. Overcoming several Lady Falcon blocks, and a few miscommunication errors, the Lady Raiders took a 20-14 lead before closing on a 5-1 run. Senior middle hitter Brianna Baysek slammed home a kill that started the momentum shift. The set ended on a serving error by Seventy-First.
As a team, Richmond tallied 25 kills, 46 digs, seven aces and three blocks. Senior outside hitter Altman Griffin got progressively better as the night went on, racking up six her 11 total kills in the third game. Senior middle hitter Owen Bowers had a second-best six kills, while Baysek added five more.
Baysek also had a team-high three aces, with Griffin, Bowers, Webb and junior Savannah Lampley each adding one of their own. Webb also dished out 23 assists.
Richmond played well out of the back row, which has become a storyline in and of itself this season. Wimpey has acknowledged several times throughout the season how well the defense has played to give the offense an opportunity to perform.
A total of eight Lady Raiders managed to earn at least one dig, with Webb leading the team with 11. Griffin also hit double digits (10 digs), while sophomore defensive specialist Layne Maultsby tacked on nine more. Baysek finished with two blocks.
The second and third games were equally as dominant by the Lady Raiders. Resorting to sound defense, several tips and smart ball movement, Richmond took care of business.
As the SAC tournament continues Tuesday and Wednesday, the Lady Raiders will next host rival Scotland High School. The No. 4 Lady Fighting Scots defeated No. 5 Hoke County High School 3-2 in five sets Monday. Richmond swept Scotland 3-0 in both matches earlier this year. Tuesday’s match is set for 6 p.m.
“We are ready to play tomorrow,” Wimpey said. “The goal is to continue to stay undefeated.”