ROCKINGHAM — There couldn’t have been a better ending to the regular season for the Lady Raider volleyball team.
In front of a rowdy home crowd, on Senior Night, it was able to take care of conference rival Scotland in three sets (25-11, 25-11, 25-21) and seal the deal on its first undefeated run through the regular season since 1997.
“It was so exciting. To have the support that we got tonight, to have the stands just packed out, I think that really got the girls pumped up. They were ready to play,” head coach Shellie Wimpey said.
The six Lady Raiders who make up this year’s senior class were honored prior to the match. Brianna Baysek, Owen Bowers, Altman Griffin, Amia Pemberton, Mackenzie Webb and Laini Wright all received cheers from the crowd as they walked onto the court with family members by their sides.
Baysek, Bowers and Griffin are the team’s biggest hitters, and Webb is the one tasked with setting them up for big kills. Pemberton, a middle hitter, and Wright, a right-side hitter, also bring some hitting talent off the bench.
“It’s just so wonderful to see how these girls have grown,” Wimpey said. “You don’t really get many opportunites where all of your starters are pretty much seniors and they played with each other the year before.
“It really works well,” she added.
Richmond (22-0, 14-0 SAC) won both the first and second sets by a score of 25-11 on Thursday.
Webb led the charge in the first, tallying six assists and an ace to go along with the seven points she won while serving. Bowers, Griffin and Lampley added two kills each and helped the Lady Raiders run off 10 straight points to end the opening set.
An exciting hustle play from Lampley late in the second set got the home crowd going. After she slid to her knees to record one of her set-high six digs, the junior outside hitter denied back-to-back kill attempts from Lady Scots’ sophomore Skyler York — all while still on the ground.
That sequence sparking another set-closing run — four straight points — from the Lady Raiders.
Scotland (14-9, 8-6 SAC) refused to throw in the towel, however, fighting back from a five-point deficit in the third set and eventually taking a 17-16 lead. It would go back and forth with Richmond, briefly holding a 20-19 advantage, but a kill from Baysek swung the momentum in the favor of the home squad for good.
And the Lady Raiders made sure to celebrate once the match was over.
“We definitely just wanted to end it in three, we didn’t want to drag it out,” Baysek said. “It was very exciting. I love beating Scotland any time, but especially tonight because it was Senior Night.
“We had a good crowd,” she continued. “Probably one of the biggest we’ve ever had.”
Baysek would end the night with five kills, all in the third set, three digs and an ace. Bowers and Griffin both had a team-high six kills, Webb finished with 25 assists, nine digs and three aces, and Pemberton registered one kill in the win.
Griffin also had 12 digs and three aces. Bowers added two digs and a block.
“We worked really hard in practice and watched some film on what we had done when we played them before,” Wimpey explained. “We knew what their holes were. We just went up and played to our strengths and their weaknesses.”
They had already clinched their second consecutive conference championship — the inaugural Sandhills Athletic Conference title — last week, but the Lady Raiders put the final stamp on things with Thursday’s win.
Next up is the conference tournament, where Richmond (No. 1 seed) will host Seventy-First (No. 8 seed) in the first round. That match will take place Monday, Oct. 16, at 6 p.m.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.