Monday, 23 November 2020 22:44

'Simple mistakes' cost Lady Raiders in home opener

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Senior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson (11) records one of her team-high 13 kills during the fourth set of Monday's match Senior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson (11) records one of her team-high 13 kills during the fourth set of Monday's match Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — A couple more big hits could have shifted the outcome of Monday’s Sandhills Athletic Conference volleyball match between Richmond Senior and Jack Britt high schools.

The Lady Raiders made their home debut against the Lady Buccaneers, and although the match was tightly-contested, Richmond dropped its second straight match. 

Head coach Ashleigh Larsen’s Lady Raiders fell in four sets, 3-1. Set scores were 27-29, 27-25, 21-25 and 17-25. The loss marked the fourth time in the last five tries that Richmond lost to the Lady Buccaneers dating back to the 2018 season.

Larsen said the match could have resulted in a Richmond win had her team found its groove more consistently.

“We lacked consistent aggressiveness tonight,” Larsen explained. “I know the girls want to earn points, but they couldn’t find the consistency to do that.

“There were times we’d get a big kill but didn’t build off that. I told them we make so many simple mistakes that are free points, that it hurts us in the long run.”

Richmond’s defense had to contend with Sydney Conklin, who was Jack Britt’s biggest threat at the net. The Lady Raiders recorded a season-high 63 digs as a team, with senior libero Emy Cooley racking up 16.

Helping out in the back row for Richmond were seniors Taylor Chappell (13 digs) and Kelly Hoffman (12 digs), junior Allyiah Swiney (10 digs) and senior Shelly Hoffman (nine digs).

“We had to communicate a lot tonight,” Shelly Hoffman said of the back row’s efforts. “Jack Britt played very smart and knew how to get the ball around, so we just had to work around that.

“We did our best to get those balls up when they hit it to us in order to get a good set and hit it right back at them.”

Richmond trailed by as many as seven points in the first set, but a 9-2 run by the Lady Raiders tied the set at 24 points. Swiney had two of her team-high four aces in the stretch, and senior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson delivered one of her team-leading 13 kills during the rally.

Both teams went back and forth in extra points, seeing a tip from senior Jakerra Covington keep it knotted at 25. But a Jack Britt ace and a Richmond hitting error ended the set.

The Lady Raiders rallied several times in the second set, which paid off for their lone win of the night. Trailing 24-22, Richmond used a 5-1 run to take the second.

Following a serving error, Anderson went to the serving line and recorded an ace and a kill to tie it up. Covington, who had five of her eight kills in the frame, followed with a tip at the net and two Jack Britt errors saw the match tied at a set apiece.

The third set played out much like the first two, with Richmond rallying late to make things interesting. Down 20-13, the home team went on a 7-2 run to trail by just two points.

Anderson collected five kills in the set, including two during the run. Contested at the net, she made a lot of smart plays on the ball to find open space on the floor.

“I was being triple blocked most of the night, which allowed me to use the middle of the floor to score,” Anderson explained. “When there’s three players up blocking, it’s hard to cover tips.”

In the fourth set, a 7-2 run by Richmond saw Anderson record three more kills. Coupled with a kill from Swiney and an ace from Chappell, the Lady Raiders trailed 15-10.

Jack Britt (2-1, 2-1 SAC), however, would close the match on a 10-7 spurt to earn its second win of the young season.

“We made adjustments for a few points, and Kelly and Shelly both tried hard to get to the ball,” Larsen said. “(Conklin) had a lot of volleyball sense and she was difficult to read, so sometimes we had our feet stuck in the mud.

“GGA and Jakerra are consistently playing smart and finding the floor, and our serve-receive was better tonight. Hopefully with more experience, our consistency will come with it.”

Larsen added that she hopes to see the team “clean up” a couple of things and said she plans to watch film to “fill the voids” in the lineup.

Richmond (1-2, 1-2 SAC) will have a short break before hosting another conference opponent on Tuesday. 

The Lady Raiders will look to return to the win column when they welcome Hoke County High School (0-3, 0-3 SAC), the team’s last match before going on a weeklong break for Thanksgiving.

Anderson said the team needs “to stay aggressive and keep our energy up” in order to defeat the Lady Bucks.

“We have to turn around and play tomorrow, so I hope the girls will shake off tonight,” Larsen closed. “They need to mentally prepare for Hoke, which is a team that can show up and be aggressive. We can’t take their record for granted.”

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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