ROCKINGHAM – Lady Raider’s volleyball team has stepped up its intensity in Thursday’s regular season finale, and head coach Ashleigh Larsen is hoping Richmond will carry it over to the conference tournament.
Returning to court for the first time in a week, the Lady Raiders hosted rival Scotland High School on Pink Night to promote breast cancer awareness.
Despite the last sets with tight scores, the Lady Raiders fell 3-0 in straight sets against Scotland. The results were 12-25, 17-25 and 27-29 in the Sandhills Athletic Conference matchup.
Larsen praised the fans and the student department for creating an atmosphere that kept the game competitive.
“The Bleacher Creatures are a dominant force when they’re here, and when our fans go into it a little more to step up the intensity, our girls feed on it,” explained Larsen.
“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 a few small mistakes, but I’m proud of how the girls did it.”
Larsen also used three different lineups to start each set, which she believes has helped keep the Lady Raiders focused and battling a hard-hitting front line from Scotland (16-3, 9-3 SAC).
The first set was early in Scotland’s favor as the Lady Scots took the lead 15-6 before Larsen called for a time-out.
A block by junior middle hitter Catherine Dennis resulted in a point that kept Richmond at 22-9. Senior Saniah Durham added a kill and tip on the next volleys but two points in a row from 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 the second Christi Jacobs added a kill for another point.
Sophomore Katie Way tipped the ball into space to take a point lead, forcing Scotland on time out. Way took a kill the next volley and two mistakes by Scotland made it a four point advantage.
Scotland battled for 12 and 14 point ties and used an 11-5 run to close the second verse.
“I’ve told girls that if they play the way they do in training and relax, they are a much better volleyball team than our record shows,” said Larsen. “I think they get so tense and know what’s at stake that they forget the fun aspect of the sport.
“Tonight the girls were much more relaxed and we showed how well we can play, especially in the last two sets. I wish we could have ruled them out. “
7-5 behind the third, Richmond opened the first of two sizeable routes to keep Scotland on their heels. The first, a 5-0 run, featured an ace from Jenna Gardner sophomore and several mistakes from Lady Scots.
At 10 points, a 5-1 throw from the home team gave the Lady Raiders a 15-11 lead. Swiney hit the ground and Dennis blocked another shot for a point.
The two teams exchanged points and saw the scoreboard tied at 16 and 23 points. Another push from Swiney extended the match to 24 points, and a batting error from Scotland made it 25 points.
Two fine defensive games from Jacobs and Swiney kept the Lady Raiders alive, leading to a mistake by the Lady Scots that gave Richmond a 26-25 advantage. Unfortunately for Larsen’s team, Scotland ended the game 4-1.
“Tonight’s game was big for us before the conference tournament,” concluded Larsen. “We could possibly see Scotland again on the first lap, it’s in the air right now. This intensity could continue and I hope we can provide a surprise that will help our team pride. “
Richmond (4-15, 3-9 SAC) will know their SAC tournament pairing on Friday after a coaching meeting. At the time of writing, the Lady Raiders are level with Southern Lee High School in fifth place.
JV Lady Raiders end season with a loss
The Richmond junior volleyball team lost 2-2 in straight sets to Scotland to end their season on Thursday.
The scores were 20-25 and 19-25. The JV team finished their season with an 8-11 overall record.