Tuesday, 24 November 2020 21:33

Lady Raiders 'aggressive' in sweep of Hoke County to even record

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Senior middle hitter Jakerra Covington delivers a left-handed kill during the first set of Richmond's sweep of Hoke County. Senior middle hitter Jakerra Covington delivers a left-handed kill during the first set of Richmond's sweep of Hoke County. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — Senior middle hitter Jakerra Covington knew her team needed an early-season Sandhills Athletic Conference win on Tuesday to help right the ship. And the Lady Raider volleyball team took care of business.

After suffering back-to-back regular season conference losses for the first time since Aug. 2018, Richmond Senior High School got back to the .500 mark with a 3-0 over Hoke County High School.

Playing at home for the second time in as many days, the Lady Raiders made the quick turnaround and won by set scores of 25-22, 25-10 and 25-14.

The win marked the 11th consecutive time Richmond has defeated Hoke County, and the 18th victory in the last 20 meetings dating back to Oct. 2009. It was also Richmond’s seventh straight sweep of the Lady Bucks.

Head coach Ashleigh Larsen said her team had a discussion ahead of the match about being able to finish runs and finding the ability to take advantage when the Lady Raiders had a lead.

“I told the girls they needed to find the will and the way to win tonight, and they did so I’m proud of them,” Larsen said. “Despite a team’s record, we can’t take that for granted. The girls played the first set a little timid, but then they settled in and played the most aggressive they have all season.

“I’m glad they were able to do that and we’re realizing how much non-conference games mean early in the season,” she added. “It’s a big adjustment, but we’re getting there.” 

Several Lady Raiders had productive nights on both ends of the floor, with senior outside hitter Kelly Hoffman leading the way with 10 kills. Covington had seven kills and senior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson recorded four kills.

Senior outside hitter Taylor Chappell collected a team-high 13 digs, and fellow senior libero Emy Cooley helped the back row with 11 digs. Covington stuffed opposing shot attempts for four blocks and senior setter Shelly Hoffman recorded a team-high four aces, including three in the first.

Leading the Lady Raiders in assists was Shelly Hoffman with 11, as Chappell and Covington added four and two, respectively.

“We felt we like we needed to win after losing on Monday,” Covington said. “We knew we had to be aggressive and show that we have the potential to take on the conference this season. 

“Communication was helpful tonight and we didn’t have a lot of errors,” she added. “The fact that we know that we can win and we want to win, that allowed us to play better tonight.”

Leading 12-9 in the first set, Richmond used several hitting errors to go on a 5-0 run. Covington helped shift the set’s momentum in the Lady Raiders’ favor when she delivered a big kill over two defenders to make it 18-11.

Although Hoke County would rally to tie the set at 20 points, Covington notched another kill and Shelly Hoffman served an ace to put Richmond ahead. Covington ended the set when she made the first of her four blocks.

Senior Taylor Chappell passes the ball during the second set of Richmond’s win Tuesday.

Cooley helped set the pace in the second set when she served back-to-back aces as part of a 4-0 run to break an early tie. Anderson added one of her three kills in the frame to give Richmond an 8-4 lead.

In the middle of the set, Anderson came alive, recording two kills, two aces and a tip at the net. Richmond used an 11-0 run to take a 24-9 lead, which ended in another Covington block. Hoke County handed the set over with a hitting error.

“Georgia Grace and Jakerra always hold us in the game, whether that’s slamming balls or tipping at the net,” Larsen said. “They’re a huge presence that can stuff the opposing team. Both of them remain positive and encourage their teammates. 

“I told them I appreciate them stepping into that type of leadership role.”

Richmond started the third set with a bang, rolling out to a 7-0 lead. Covington and Kelly Hoffman each had two kills during the run, Chappell added another and Shelly Hoffman served up an ace.

A 12-4 stride from Richmond put the home team up 22-10. A Kelly Hoffman kill set up the match point, which resulted in another hitting error from Hoke County (0-4. 0-4 SAC).

“Following the loss last night, the way we played in the second and third sets tonight is what we were looking for,” Chappell said. “I was switched to the right side tonight and I really felt more comfortable, which let me find the floor.”

With Richmond County Schools beginning Thanksgiving break Wednesday, Larsen anticipates practicing twice over the holiday. She said she adjusted the lineup Tuesday, swapping Chappell and Allyiah Swiney from outside to right side hitter, and plans to work in other players to the new lineup.

Richmond (2-2, 2-2 SAC) will return to the court on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Lumberton High School (2-2, 2-2 SAC).

“Lumberton is a team that should not to be taken lightly,” Larsen closed. “We’re going to them first and it will be a battle. If the girls keep this aggressiveness and come out swinging like they did tonight, it shouldn’t be an issue.”

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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