Wednesday, 07 August 2019 20:35

Varsity, JV Lady Raiders impress in first scrimmage against Uwharrie Charter

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Senior outside hitter Jadyn Johnson (1) delivers a kill in Wednesday's scrimmage. Senior outside hitter Jadyn Johnson (1) delivers a kill in Wednesday's scrimmage. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Getting their first taste of pre-season action on Wednesday were the Richmond Senior High School varsity and junior varsity volleyball teams.

Both squads impressed their respective coaches, second-year varsity coach Ashleigh Larsen and first-year JV coach Melissa Dennis, as they welcomed in Uwharrie Charter Academy. The scrimmage followed timed games with no sets, seeing both teams compete for roughly an hour apiece.

With the regular season opener less than two weeks away for Richmond, both coaches used Wednesday as a warm up and a chance to fine-tune their lineups and work out some small issues.

“The girls played really well today,” Larsen commented. “I started with my full lineup and got a chance to switch the girls around to see what worked best. My seniors stepped up and played a good game, and many of my returners filled right in.

“There were some good things and some things we need to work on,” she added. “Our serving went really well today -- we only missed a handful of serves. The girls know I’m big on that. We also had some aggressive hits, but we need to make some small changes with our communication and our defense.”

Larsen gave all of her players ample time on the court, seeing senior setter Carley Lambeth play the entire match. Also getting a lot of playing time were fellow seniors Layne Maultsby (libero), Madison Jordan (outside hitter), Jadyn Johnson (outside hitter), and juniors Georgia Grace Anderson (middle hitter), Taylor Chappell (outside hitter) and Jakerra Covington (middle hitter).

“The girls were quiet on the court today, but I know they’re really hyped up,” Larsen noted of the team’s vibe early in the season. “I could see it in their faces that they have a lot more confidence than they did at this point last season. We’ll find our voice soon enough.”

It was Dennis’ coaching debut with Richmond, as her JV Lady Raiders also performed well against the Lady Eagles. Using a mixture of sophomore returners like Kierston Gibson, Kaitlyn Huff and Allyiah Swiney, along with some incoming freshmen and recent sophomore transfer Taylor Waitley, Dennis said she was impressed with what she saw in the early going.

“The girls did so well with only having two days of practice as a team,” Dennis said. “We have a lot of girls who haven’t played in this setting before, so we’re spending a lot of time working on rotations and defense. They really surprised me and handled things really well.

“Allyiah and Kaitlyn really didn’t come off the court,” she continued. “They do a good job setting up passes and they offer a lot of support to the younger girls. Saniah (Durham) did an excellent job setting, especially since it was her first time doing that. All the girls did well today.”

Richmond will compete in the Lee County High School jamboree on Saturday, getting a chance to compete in six more scrimmages. Starting at 9 a.m., the Lady Raiders will face off against Berian Baptist, Lee County, Northwood, Overhills, Pinecrest and Southern Lee high schools. 

Between now and then, Larsen hopes to make a few minor corrections and use the jamboree as one final stepping stone heading into the season.

“Saturday we’ll play six 50-minute intervals, so we’ll get to see more substitutions,” Larsen said. “We’ll work on that in practice and move clientele around to see if something different happens. What I saw today was really good so I don’t want to change too much."

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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