ROCKINGHAM — When Lashonda York hammered down match point to lift Richmond Senior into the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference, it meant something else as well.
For the first time in three years, the Raiders have automatically clinched a spot in the state 4A playoffs as the No. 4 seed out of the SEC. After missing the postseason last season, Richmond grabbed a wild-card spot in 2010 and were the second seed the year before that when it reached the third round.
“We’re going to work really hard in practice to get ready for Saturday,” Richmond coach Shellie Wimpey said. “After not making it last year and being a wild-card the year before, this is a step up for the program.”
The preliminary playoff brackets have Richmond playing the No. 2 seed out of the CAP-8 Conference.
But locking in the postseason berth didn’t come easy Monday night. The Raiders jumped out to a 2-0 lead before having to scramble to claim a 25-20, 25-22, 23-25, 22-25, 16-14 victory.
“I’m very proud of how hard the girls played,” Richmond coach Shellie Wimpey said. “I hope we play that hard tomorrow against Scotland and make it a good game.”
Richmond will take on the league’s regular season champion Scotland at 6 p.m. today in Laurinburg. The Fighting Scots swept the season series with the Raiders, winning both contests in three games.
Pinecrest blanks Richmond
SOUTHERN PINES — After an hour delay because of rain and lightning, the Pinecrest boys soccer team claimed a 3-0 victory over Richmond Senior Monday night.
The Patriots led 2-0 at halftime.
“About 10 minutes into the second half, I pulled a defender off and put another forward up top,” Richmond coach Bennie Howard said. “It created some opportunities for us, but we didn’t score. I thought we played much better in the second half.”
The Raiders will close out their regular season 7 p.m. Thursday at Scotland.
With Monday’s loss, Richmond falls to 10-4-2 overall and 4-4-1 in Southeastern Conference play. The Raiders will finish fourth in the league and will open the Southeastern Conference tournament 7 p.m. Monday at home against Scotland.
In the junior varsity contest, Pinecrest stopped Richmond 3-0.
Hamlet sweeps Anson Blue
HAMLET — The Hamlet Middle School volleyball team down Anson Blue 25-23, 25-14 in the first contest and 25-14, 25-15 in the nightcap.
Altman Griffin had 23 service points and four aces in the win. Tatyana Gould finished with 19 service points and two aces, while Zanadi Hammond had 16 services and two aces for Hamlet (8-2).
Rockingham downs Rohanen
ROCKINGHAM — The Rockingham Middle School volleyball team swept Rohanen 25-11, 25-6 in the first contest and claimed a 25-7, 25-12 victory in the second match.
Rockingham was paced by Cher Morse who had 38 service points. Nicole Beggs finished with 21 service points, while Ally Roberts chipped in with 15 service points for Rockingham.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.