SANFORD — A season-long three-match slide came to an end for the Richmond volleyball team on Thursday.
After consecutive nights of losing in four sets, the Lady Raiders completed the regular-season sweep of Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent Southern Lee High School.
Similar to the first meeting on Aug. 29, Richmond rolled to a 3-0 victory. Set scores were 26-24, 25-22 and 25-21.
Richmond trailed the entire first set but stayed within a handful of points. The Lady Raiders gained their first lead with 25 points thanks to five straight points from freshman defensive specialist Kenley Smith from the serving line.
Trailing 24-21, Smith’s first three serves to tie it up resulted in a hitting error, a block from freshman Riley McDonald and another hitting error. After a timeout, a McDonald kill made it set point, which was iced by a Smith ace.
“KG got up on the line in the first set and served us back for a win,” head coach Ashleigh Larsen said. “They called a good timeout right when we were in rhythm, but (Smith) stayed aggressive and kept us in play.
“We were kind of flat tonight, but thankfully it still resulted in a win. Defensively, we made good plays again.”
The second stanza was also close on the scoreboard, as both teams battled to multiple ties. The score was knotted 7-7 and 13-13.
Later tied at 20 points, senior middle hitter Katie Way picked up a kill to send senior defensive specialist Jenna Gardner to the serving line. She rattled off three straight points all thanks to errors by Southern Lee.
After a two-point run by the Lady Cavs, Way knocked home another kill on an assist from junior setter Ava Edmondson to take a two-set advantage.
An early 14-9 advantage in the third set for Richmond saw the Lady Cavs battle back within a point, 17-16.
But an 8-5 stretch in the final 13 volleys secured the sweep. The Lady Raiders scored their final four points in the last six series.
Way had a kill coupled with an Southern Lee error, McDonald made it match point with a kill and senior MaKailah Jackson drilled one to the floor to finalize the sweep.
“Katie and Riley both got hot at the net as the match went on,” Larsen noted. “We moved the ball around really well.
“And it was good to get back into the win column after an iffy start to the week even though we played some good competition,” she closed. “It was good to start the second round of conference play this way.”
Southern Lee dropped to 4-8 overall and 1-5 against SAC team with the loss.
The fourth-place Lady Raiders (7-8, 4-3 SAC) travel to first-place Pinecrest High School (11-5, 6-0 SAC) on Tuesday. First serve is set for 6 p.m.
JV Lady Raiders win fifth straight
On the road at Southern Lee on Thursday, the Richmond junior varsity volleyball team also completed its sweep of the JV Lady Cavaliers.
Following a three-game losing streak, the JV Lady Raiders notched their fifth consecutive victory. Taking the match 2-0, Richmond earned set score victories of 25-11 and 25-16.
“The girls were very aggressive at the net today and made a lot of smart decisions,” head coach Melissa Dennis said.
“Our serving was the best it’s been in a while and we were able to keep the momentum using aggressive serves.”
Richmond (10-5, 4-3 SAC) also travels to Pinecrest on Tuesday, beginning at 5 p.m.