Thursday, 14 October 2021 20:55

Intense regular-season finale preps Lady Raiders for conference tournament

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The Lady Raiders celebrate a point late in the third set of Thursday's regular-season finale. The Lady Raiders celebrate a point late in the third set of Thursday's regular-season finale. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The Lady Raider volleyball team amped up its intensity in Thursday’s regular-season finale, and head coach Ashleigh Larsen hopes Richmond will carry it over into the conference tournament.


Returning to the court for the first time in a week, the Lady Raiders hosted rival Scotland High School on Pink Night to support breast cancer awareness.

Despite the last couple of sets featuring close scores, the Lady Raiders fell to Scotland in straight sets, 3-0. Scores were 12-25, 17-25 and 27-29 in the Sandhills Athletic Conference matchup.

Larsen credited the fans and the student section for creating an atmosphere that kept the match competitive.

“The Bleacher Creatures are a dominant force when they’re here, and when our fans get into it a little bit more to build the intensity, our girls feed off of that,” Larsen explained.

“We made a few serving errors that cost us in the long run, but after the first set the girls did much better in the second and third sets,” she added. “There were still some small mistakes, but I’m proud of the way the girls turned it around.”

Larsen also used three different lineups to start each set, which she said helped keep the Lady Raiders focused and combat a hard-hitting front line from Scotland (16-3, 9-3 SAC).

The first set tipped in Scotland’s favor early, seeing the Lady Scots jump out to a 15-6 lead before Larsen called a timeout.

A block by junior middle hitter Catherine Dennis led to a point that kept Richmond in it at 22-9. Senior Saniah Durham added a kill and a tip over the next couple of volleys, but two straight points by Scotland ended the set.

Richmond managed to take a 10-6 lead to start the second set after trailing 6-3. A 7-0 run was started by a kill from senior Allyiah Swiney and sophomore Christi Jacobs added a kill for another point.

Sophomore Katie Way tipped the ball into open space to take a one-point lead, forcing Scotland to call a timeout. On the next volley, Way collected a kill, and two errors by Scotland made it a four-point advantage.

Battling out to ties of 12 and 14 points, Scotland used an 11-5 run to close the second stanza.

“I’ve told girls if they play the way they do in practice and relax, they are a much better volleyball team than what our record shows,” Larsen said. “I think they get so tense and know what’s on the line that they forget about the fun aspect of the sport.

“Tonight, the girls were a lot more relaxed and we showed how well we can play, especially in the last two sets. I wish we’d have been able to close them out.”

Trailing 7-5 to open the third, Richmond started the first of two substantial stretches to keep Scotland on its heels. The first, a 5-0 run, featured an ace from sophomore Jenna Gardner and several Lady Scots errors.

Tied at 10 points, a 5-1 roll by the home team gave the Lady Raiders a 15-11 lead. Swiney added a push to the floor and Dennis blocked another shot for a point.

The two teams traded points and saw the scoreboard tied at 16 and 23 points. Another push from Swiney extended the match to tie it at 24 points, and a hitting error by Scotland kpet it even at 25 points.

Two nice defensive plays from Jacobs and Swiney kept the Lady Raiders alive, resulting in an error by the Lady Scots to give Richmond a 26-25 advantage. Unfortunately for Larsen’s team, Scotland closed the match on a 4-1 run.

“Tonight’s match was big for us heading into the conference tournament,” Larsen closed. “We could possibly see Scotland again in the first round, it’s up in the air right now. This intensity could carry over and I hope we can cause an upset, which would help our team pride.”

Richmond (4-15, 3-9 SAC) will know its SAC tournament pairing on Friday following a coaches meeting. At the time of publication, the Lady Raiders sit tied with Southern Lee High School in fifth place.

JV Lady Raiders end season with loss

The Richmond junior varsity volleyball team lost in straight sets to Scotland, 2-0, on Thursday to end its season.

Set scores were 20-25 and 19-25. The JV team wrapped its season with an 8-11 overall record.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association 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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