ROCKINGHAM – Perfect. Unprecedented. Historic. Undefeated. Champions. Family.
These are just a few of the many adjectives that could be used to describe the Richmond Senior High School Lady Raiders varsity volleyball team’s season.
In thrilling fashion on senior night, the Lady Raiders capped off a perfect 22-win season by defeating, perhaps the sweetest of Sandhills Athletic Conference opponents, Scotland High School 3-0 Thursday night. The scores were 25-11, 25-12 and 25-21.
The 2017 22-0 RSHS varsity volleyball team. Pictured left to right: Savannah Lampley, Amia Pemberton, Laini Wright, Brianna Baysek, Altman Griffin, Owen Bowers, Mackenzie Webb, head coach Shellie Wimpey, Allexis Swiney, Savannah Chappel, Layne Maultsby and Jadyn Johnson.
Prior to the match beginning, Richmond’s six seniors, along with their parents, were recognized. And seniors Brianna Baysek, Owen Bowers, Altman Griffin, Amia Pemberton, Mackenzie Webb and Laini Wright didn’t disappoint in front of the largest crowd of the season in the Raiders Gymnasium.
Seniors pictured in top row: Brianna Baysek; Owen Bowers
Seniors pictured in middle row: Altman Griffin; Amia Pemberton
Seniors pictured in bottom row: Mackenzie Webb and Laini Wright.
“Tonight felt great,” head coach Shellie Wimpey said of the perfect season. “These girls have worked so hard this year, and have taken practice so seriously. And it all paid off.”
Shutting out their opponent in straight sets for the sixteenth time this season, the Lady Raiders (22-0, 14-0 SAC) dominated play from the opening serve.
In the first game, Richmond jumped out to a 5-2 lead that saw a huge block by sophomore outside hitter Allexis Swiney. After allowing the Lady Fighting Scots (14-9, 8-6 SAC) to tie the set at seven, senior outside hitter Griffin slammed one of her six kills on the night that opened up a 5-0 Richmond streak.
Later in the same game, and trailing 17-11, Scotland head coach Mallory Wheeler called a timeout to try and corral her players. But with no affect, the Lady Raiders closed the set on an 8-0 run that concluded with an ace by senior setter Webb, and a tip by junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley.
As a team, the Lady Raiders racked up 25 kills, 48 digs, seven aces and two blocks. Bowers, Griffin and Lampley all led the way with six kills apiece, with Baysek adding five of her own. Webb and Bowers each served up three aces.
Defensively, Griffin dug the ball a match-high 12 times, and got assistance from Lampley (10 digs), Webb (nine digs) and sophomore defensive specialist Layne Maultsby (eight digs). Bowers and Swiney each had one of Richmond’s two total blocks on the night.
Lampley stole the show in the second game, as she picked up three kills and six digs. Following a dig that sent her to her knees, Lampley went back and forth with a Scotland player who sent back-to-back kills at her as she sprawled out on the floor. Lampley returned both kills, sending the crowd into a frenzy, and Richmond went onto win the volley.
The Lady Raiders finished business in the third set after coming back from two one-point deficits. Richmond was up 13-7 before allowing Scotland to tie at 16. Chipping away at a tired Lady Fighting Scots team, which led 20-19, the Lady Raiders finished the historic match on a 6-1 run. The match-clinching point came off a Baysek serve which resulted in a Scotland error.
And then the celebration ensued.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment,” Griffin said in an exclusive video interview with the RO on the perfect 22-win season. “We’ve never had this happen before, and we beat our record of 16 wins in a season. It’s really great, especially since it’s (our) senior year. And to finish our season undefeated on senior night is really great.”
Teammate, and fellow senior, Baysek concurred with Griffin. She also spoke of the team’s postseason expectations.
“Going 22-0 means a lot because we’ve worked so hard for this,” Baysek said. “To win on our senior night against Scotland, who is our rival, it’s just a great feeling.
“Getting through the conference tournament is definitely our first goal,” Baysek added. “In the state playoffs, we want to get as far as we can. Richmond volleyball hasn’t gotten too far in the past, and we want to win it all.”
Congratulations are also in order for the Lady Raiders junior varsity team, as it clinched the SAC regular season title by defeating Scotland in three sets. Richmond went 19-3 on the season, and was also perfect in SAC play with a 14-0 record.
The 2017 SAC Champion JV volleyball team.
“I am so proud of our girls,” junior varsity head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “To win the conference championship is a huge deal, but to do it in conjunction with the varsity team, that’s awesome for Richmond.
“Tonight our girls battled back,” Larsen continued. “The whole starting lineup came together and worked their butts off.”
With the regular season a wrap, the varsity Lady Raiders will enter the SAC tournament as the top seed. Their next match will be against lowest-seeded No. 8 Seventy-First High School, and will be at Richmond on Monday, October 16 at 6 p.m. The Lady Falcons (1-15, 0-13) have lost to Richmond both times the two teams played this season, with each match being a 3-0 victory by the Lady Raiders.
“To prepare for the conference tournament, we’re still going to fine tune some things,” Wimpey noted. “We need to fine-tune our serve/receive. We’ll continue to work on our defense. But mostly, we’re just going to play our game. We’re going to do the things we do.”