Home Local Sports Rally successful for Lady Raiders in conference opener

Rally successful for Lady Raiders in conference opener

Senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson raises her hands in celebration while being greeted by her teammates following a pivotal block in the third set. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Facing a deficit early in Tuesday’s Sandhills Athletic Conference opener, the Richmond Senior High School volleyball team responded.

The slow start by the Lady Raiders saw the momentum shift in the second set, which paved the way to a 3-1 victory over visiting Southern Lee High School.

Notching its second win in as many nights, Richmond used an all-around team effort to rally against the Lady Cavaliers.

In each of the four sets, the Lady Raiders failed to register the first point. Southern Lee (2-4, 0-1 SAC) controlled the tempo each time, but Richmond dug in during the final three frames to overcome and get the win.

Southern Lee led by as many as five points in the opening set, but a 4-0 run that featured three Lady Cavs errors and a kill from senior outside hitter MaKailah Jackson tied it at 16 points. 

The score would be tied again at 18, 19, 20 and 21 points but a 4-1 stretch in the final five volleys gave Southern Lee the one set advantage.

Early in the second, a kill from freshman middle hitter Riley McDonald and an ace and back row kill by freshman defensive specialist Kenley Smith gave Richmond a small lead.

Following a service error by Southern Lee, the Lady Raiders broke the set open with a 7-0 run that ultimately changed the direction of the match. Two aces from senior right side hitter Keyoni Nichols were added to by five errors.

Senior defensive specialist Jenna Gardner served an ace, which was followed by a kill from senior middle hitter Katie Way to make it a 15-7 lead, one of several eight-point advantages in the set.

Senior outside hitter Addy Hollingsworth and McDonald later had back-to-back kills and senior libero Allie Rodgers made an athletic dig that sailed over the net and resulted in a hitting error.

Leading 20-15, four of Richmond’s five points came via errors on behalf of the Lady Cavs. Way added the other point on a kill.

With the match tied at a set apiece, Southern Lee answered with a 10-2 run to start the third which resulted in head coach Ashleigh Larsen taking a timeout. Breaking up the momentum, Jackson bumped the ball into open space on the next volley to start a series of points runs.

That three-point spurt was later followed by another 3-0 run that used two errors and a Jackson kill to make it a 12-8 deficit. Jackson kept up her efforts in the set with another kill to begin a 4-0 spurt.


Way made a smart move at the net for a kill and junior setter Ava Edmondson blocked a shot that resulted in another error. That point made it 13-12 in favor of Southern Lee, and the Lady Cavs called a timeout.

McDonald tied the set at 15 and 16 points with kills, an ace by Smith gave Richmond a short one-point lead and back-to-back kills from McDonald and Way gave the Lady Raiders the lead for good.

Up 19-18, three errors, a Nichols ace and a Jackson block made it set point. Jackson capped the impressive set with a cross-court kill along the net.

The fourth set was back-and-forth as both teams tied it up four times to a 14-14 score. Way knocked a pair of hits to the floor across three volleys to make it 17-14. 

Hollingsworth notched a trio of kills down the stretch, including a long ball to the back right corner of the court. All of Richmond’s other points came via Southern Lee errors, save for the match point, which was a final kill from Way.

Set to finish the week on Thursday and try to win its third straight match, Richmond (4-3, 1-0 SAC) will host Pinecrest High School (4-4, 0-0 SAC) at 6 p.m.

JV team sweeps Southern Lee

Winning its second match in two days, the Richmond junior varsity volleyball team rolled to a quick win on Tuesday.

Hosting Southern Lee, the JV Lady Raiders earned another 2-0 victory. Set scores were 25-12 and 25-10.

“I am very proud of the way the girls played,” head coach Melissa Dennis said. “Their energy was up the whole game and they really played as a team. 

“We were more aggressive today and they found creative ways to find the court.”

Up next for the JV Lady Raiders (5-2, 1-0 SAC) will be the JV Lady Patriots of Pinecrest on Thursday at home. Play will start at 5 p.m.

Sports editor’s note: No official stats were available at the time of publication.