Monday, 21 October 2019 23:29

No. 3 Lady Raiders sweep No. 6 Purnell Swett from SAC tournament

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Junior Taylor Chappell (15) connects for a kill during the third set of No. 3 Richmond's 3-0 win over No. 6 Purnell Swett. Junior Taylor Chappell (15) connects for a kill during the third set of No. 3 Richmond's 3-0 win over No. 6 Purnell Swett. Jennie Maultsby — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior High School’s varsity volleyball team accomplished what head coach Ashleigh Larsen wanted it to do in the opening round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament on Monday.

The No. 3 Lady Raiders made quick work of visiting No. 6 Purnell High School, sweeping the Lady Rams in straight sets. Scores were 25-12, 25-10 and 25-18. 

The win marked the third time this season Richmond defeated its SAC opponent from Pembroke, its second sweep in as many tries, and was its 13th straight win over Purnell Swett dating back to Sept. 9, 2014.

With a potential heavy slate over the course of the next week with more SAC tournament games and the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs beginning, Larsen said a three-set win was most beneficial for her team in order for her players to preserve some energy down the stretch.

Richmond (18-5) set the tempo after breaking an early tie in the first set and never looked back. Part of that, Larsen explained, was her team’s sweep over rival Scotland last Thursday, but also the Lady Raiders’ desire to win the conference tournament.

“There were a lot of (Purnell Swett) players who were pulled up from the last time we played, so that was good for the,” Larsen said after the game. “That made us stay on our toes a little bit more, and I adjusted the lineup so that Madison Jordan could serve first since she’s been doing so well the last couple of games.

“We can’t take anyone lightly at this point in the season, and Purnell Swett (5-18) came ready to play,” she added. 

Both teams opened the first set with a series of big swings that saw the score tied at seven points. Twice during the next handful of possessions junior middle hitter Georgia Grace Anderson recorded kills for Richmond to break a tie. Her second one gave the Lady Raiders an 11-10 advantage, and from there, the rest of the set belong to the home team.

A quick turnaround saw Richmond go up 14-10, resulting in a Purnell Swett timeout. Out of the break, senior outside hitter Jadyn Johnson and Anderson opened things up with a kill each. Several unforced errors by the Lady Rams led to a 22-12 deficit. To close the set, Johnson added a kill, while junior middle hitter Jakerra Covington tipped the ball over the net and blocked a Hannah Evington attempt to give Richmond a 1-0 advantage.

The second set followed a similar script, seeing a Jordan ace and an Anderson kill off the hands of Alona Locklear put Richmond up 3-0. Two Johnson kills a couple of points later extended the lead to 8-3 and prompted another Lady Rams timeout. 

Jordan made an athletic diving play just after the pause in action, laying out to dig a ball that found its way to the hardwood on the other side of the net. That was followed by a kill from junior right side hitter Taylor Chappell, and Jordan, Anderson and Covington combined for five kills in seven plays to make it a 22-9 advantage. 

The Lady Raiders got some help from a Locklear serving error, which was followed by a Chelsey Wilkes hitting error to close the set.

The story of the third set belong to Richmond’s serving game, as Anderson and junior defensively specialist Emy Cooley both went on big runs at the serving line. With Richmond trailing by four points early, Anderson rattled off a series of serves that led to a 9-0 run by the Lady Raiders. Covington had a kill and a block during that span, while Anderson had a kill and an ace and Johnson added another kill.

Back on top with a 10-6 lead, Johnson served an ace to force another timeout. Following an error by Purnell Swett, Cooley went to the serving line and helped get a 7-0 Lady Raider run started. Senior right side hitter Jasmine Ewing got it going with a kill to the far side of the court, while an Anderson block and a Jordan kill made it 21-11.

The Lady Rams wouldn’t go away quietly, going on a late 6-2 run of their own. However, more unforced errors in crunch time led to the match point, and an Abigail Lowry kill attempt into the net resulted in Purnell Swett’s elimination from the SAC tournament.

“Our girls moved the ball around a lot to night and we played smart,” Larsen said. “Our passes were off early on, but then Carley (Lambeth) started connecting on passes and got everyone involved. It was good to see us move the ball around enough to beat their blockers and find the floor as much as we did tonight.”

Larsen added it was a solid effort by the whole team, seeing the offense and defense contribute equally and respond when needed. 

Leading the charge on offense was Anderson, who tallied a team-high 10 kills. As a team Richmond racked up 34 kills in the three sets, with Johnson adding nine, Covington contributing eight, Jordan notching four, Chappell having two and Ewing rounding it out with one. The Lady Raiders also had eight aces on the night, including a set-high four in the first. Anderson was the leading server with three aces.

Lambeth was responsible for dishing out 33 assists, notching 12, 10 and 11, respectively, across the three sets. She also had five digs.

On defense, senior libero Layne Maultsby continued her solid play in the back row, digging the ball a team-high 19 times. Jordan was behind her with 14 digs, while Johnson chipped in nine more. Covington was also a force at the net on defense, collecting a team-high four blocks, two of which came in the third set.

Up next for the Lady Raiders will be No. 2 Scotland (16-8), as the SAC tournament continues on Tuesday. What will serve as the rubber match between the two rival teams, the Lady Raiders will travel to Laurinburg and look to bounce the Lady Fighting Scots. First serve is set for 6 p.m.

“We don’t get any practice time before we play them again,” Larsen explained. “Thankfully we just played them Thursday, and we will make adjustments to our lineup to be ready. We need to be ready to play and bring some intensity like we had last week.”

Kyle Pillar

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

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