ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond volleyball team’s 11-0 start to the 2017 season, due in large part to its senior core, has been more than impressive. It has won 33 of 38 sets played and finished seven of the 11 matches in just three sets.
“They’ve done a really good job of coming together as a team,” head coach Shellie Wimpey said. “They support each other more this year — instead of getting down on one another and themselves — and I think that’s the big difference on the court.”
But what may be more remarkable than their undefeated record is how the Lady Raiders have been able to keep their win streak alive amidst such a demanding schedule. They played three matches in three days this past week, and have done so since the second week of the season.
Richmond was able to defeat Lee County (3-1), Anson (3-1) and Purnell Swett (3-0) the week of Aug. 21, take down Pinecrest (3-0), Lee County (3-0) and Jack Britt (3-1) last week and then held off Hoke County (3-0), Union Pines (3-2) and Lumberton (3-0) this week.
It may not be the easiest schedule, but senior setter Mackenzie Webb said “the fear of losing it” helps the team band together when times get tough — like it did at Union Pines on Wednesday. The Lady Raiders aren’t ready to give up the streak just yet, as the volleyball program hasn’t won more than seven consecutive matches since the 2007 season.
“I was telling them that we would be 10-0 after that game (at Union Pines) and that really got them fired up. I think the thought of losing is just not on their minds right now,” Wimpey said.
A year after they helped Richmond go undefeated in conference play, Webb, Bri Baysek, Owen Bowers and Altman Griffin all returned for their final seasons in hopes of repeating the successes of last year. But what they’ve been able to do in just 11 matches so far may have already exceeded their expectations.
“We’ve all played together since ninth grade, so it’s really good to see us all so happy,” Webb said of the team’s senior class. “It’s probably the best feeling in the world being 11-0.”
The team has been able to rely on its seniors, and junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley — who had a team-high 13 digs against Lumberton — while also bringing along some of its younger talent in sophomores Jadyn Johnson, Layne Maultsby and Alexis Swiney.
“I’m glad that we have all these seniors that are excited to play and help the team out,” Bowers said. “We’re all working together, just trying our best to do good and be role models for the young girls.”
Moving forward, Wimpey hopes her team avoids complacency and continues to compete at a high level. The Lady Raiders are back to playing two matches a week over the next three weeks, which will give them a day in between to “rest up and really work on some stuff” heading into the Thursday matchups.
Next for Richmond is its first meeting — which will be at home — with new conference opponent Seventy-First (1-6, 0-5 SAC) next Tuesday. It will then play at conference rival Scotland (7-3, 4-1 SAC) next Thursday.
That’ll give the unbeaten, senior-led squad a chance to extend the longest win streak in program history.
“This season is one of the best seasons because it’s just fun to play. We actually look forward to every game,” Griffin said. “And we’re just looking to keep that streak going.”
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Richmond’s Savannah Lampley (12) goes up for kill during Thursday’s home match against Lumberton. Lampley would finish with a team-high 13 digs in the Lady Raider’s three-set victory.