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Tuesday, 15 October 2019 22:19

Lady Raiders leapfrog back to 3rd place with four-set win over 'scrappy' Seventy-First

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ROSports File Photo: Madison Jordan (12) had a team-high 18 digs in Richmond's win on Tuesday. ROSports File Photo: Madison Jordan (12) had a team-high 18 digs in Richmond's win on Tuesday. Jennie Maultsby — The Richmond Observer.

FAYETTEVILLE — Not taking any opponent lightly down the home stretch of the regular season, the Richmond Senior High School volleyball team held off a “scrappy” Seventy-First High School team on Tuesday.


The Lady Raiders and head coach Ashleigh Larsen began their final week of play on the road, rolling to a 3-1 win over the Lady Falcons. Richmond controlled the tempo and the scoreboard for the first two sets before clinching the match in the fourth against its Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent.

Sets scores were 25-13, 25-18, 22-25 and 25-14. The victory proved to be Richmond’s second in two tries against Seventy-First, and its seventh-straight win since the two teams joined the same conference in 2017. The four-set win also spoiled the Lady Falcons’ senior night, which honored the team’s five graduating players.

“Our first two sets were really strong, then Seventy-First got it together in the third set,” Larsen explained. “No. 4 (Emony Johnson) and No. 8 (Ja Lena Pitt) started having some good swings and I told our girls to be wary of them. Thankfully in the fourth set, we put a damper on them and got back on top.

“We’d have liked to have finished it in three sets, but Seventy-First was resilient and didn’t give up,” she added. “Luckily our girls also didn’t give up either and we got a big win.”

Entering the match, the Lady Raiders (16-5, 8-5 SAC) were in fourth place in the SAC standings behind Jack Britt. But the win, coupled with some help from Pinecrest High School, which defeated Jack Britt Tuesday, saw Richmond leapfrog its way back into the third-place spot.

The sweep over the Lady Falcons put Richmond back in the win column after it suffered a tough five-set road loss at Lumberton High School last Thursday.

To open the match, the Lady Raiders used a six-point run to get out to an early 8-2 lead, using two aces from senior outside hitter Jadyn Johnson and a kill from junior middle hitter Jakerra Covington. Following a Seventy-First timeout, three aces from senior setter Carley Lambeth, and one each from seniors Madison Jordan and Layne Maultsby were part of a 12-7 run.

Covington recorded a block at the net on Pitt, which set up the set point. She would use her left hand a couple of points later to kill the ball past Unique Nash to help Richmond take a 1-0 advantage.

A Jordan kill and an ace from junior right side hitter Taylor Chappell helped Richmond out to a 9-3 start in the second stanza. But Seventy-First would keep the score a little tighter, closing its deficit to two points, 20-18, following a kill from Pitt.

But Covington recorded another block and added a kill again in the late going, and the Lady Raiders used a net violation from Johnson to go ahead by two sets.

The third frame saw the Lady Falcons (4-13, 4-10 SAC) slowly creep out to a 15-10 lead before Larsen called a timeout to try and rally her players. Both teams traded points, but a Seventy-First hitting error gave Richmond and junior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson a chance to nearly win the set.

Anderson took over at the serving line, and with the help of her teammates, rattled off five straight points to pull within two points, 22-24. Johnson had a kill during the run, and Covington tipped the ball straight down at the net. But a timeout by the home team ended the run, as a hitting error sent the match to a fourth set.

What would end up being the final set was all Richmond, beginning with Jordan having back-to-back pushes for points to give the Lady Raiders a 9-3 lead. Kills from Johnson and Covington sandwiched an Anderson kill in the middle of the set to open the lead to 17-6.

Like they’d gotten all match long, the Lady Raiders used the help of several hitting and digging errors by Seventy-First to set up the match point. Johnson rang true on an assist from Lambeth with a kill that bounced off the hands of Johnson and Shayla Battle to ice the win.

Larsen said her team’s defensive efforts and the Lady Falcons’ assortment of errors were key contributions.

“Our defense played a lot better tonight and really gave us some chances to win points,” Larsen explained. “Letting Seventy-First make some mistakes and us capitalizing on them definitely helped us. We moved the ball around really well and we had a lot of attempts, but finding the floor was tough. 

“Tonight’s win was super important because it helped mess some things up (in the standings) and the conference is really strong this year,” she closed. “Now we need to come out swinging on Thursday and try to get a win against Scotland to go into the conference tournament with some momentum.”

Anderson was the lone Lady Raider to hit double-digit kills with 12, followed by eight from Covington and seven more from Johnson. Lambeth had a team-high six aces, while also dishing out 31 assists. Johnson’s four aces were second on the team and Maultsby, Anderson, Jordan and Chappell all had one of the team’s 14 aces.

On defense, it was Jordan who led the way for the first time this season with 18 digs, including eight in the first set. Maultsby (15) and Johnson (11) also helped out in the back row, and junior defensive specialist Emy Cooley chipped in eight digs, including five in the crucial fourth set. Covington had a team-high four blocks.

The Lady Raiders will host rival Scotland High School on Thursday in what will be the regular season finale. The team’s five seniors, Johnson, Jordan, Lambeth, Maultsby and Jasmine Ewing, will also be recognized on senior night. 

With the top two spots in the SAC out of reach to Pinecrest and Scotland, a win Thursday would secure the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament. First serve is set for 6 p.m. inside Raider Gymnasium.

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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