ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond volleyball team’s unprecendeted, undefeated run through the 2017 season continued Wednesday night when it defeated Pinecrest 3-0 to win the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament championship.
Unlike its semifinal victory over Scotland the night before, Richmond (25-0) stayed focused throughout the entire match. It kept its passes sharp, consistently found the holes and hit its spots at a high clip.
Senior outside hitter Altman Griffin won 18 points while serving, and registered 14 kills, 11 digs and six aces. Her play highlighted the three-set victory (25-16, 25-13, 25-15) in the final round of the SAC tournament — the team’s first tournament title under head coach Shellie Wimpey.
“It just sets the standard now,” Wimpey said of the team’s success so far this season. “This puts Richmond volleyball on the map — not even outside of our community, but on the inside. Other sports have dominated (for a long time)…so it feels good to actually get on the map within our own school and community.”
Things started off smooth for the No. 1 seeded Lady Raiders, and got even better as the match progressed.
Their second-set victory, which was their largest margin of victory on the night, featured a total of 18 digs and 15 kills. Griffin got the home team off to a 9-0 start behind the serving line and a Pinecrest serving error brought the set to a close.
Junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley picked up all four of her kills in the second frame, with her last one flying in and bouncing off the shoulder of Lady Patriot senior Cat Schlaff.
A left-handed kill from senior middle hitter Owen Bowers was the first point scored by Richmond in set No. 3. Three kills from Griffin in a four-point span put the Lady Raiders, who found themselves trailing in the early going, ahead 9-7.
And they didn’t look back after taking the lead.
Pinecrest, the No. 2 seed in the conference, had to call a timeout as the game began to slip away. Head coach Scott Shepherd had a few words to say to the officials, after a few calls went in favor of the home team, and was given a yellow card — which got both crowds riled up in the game’s final moments.
Both teams would score five points each following the timeout, with Richmond’s final point securing the title.
Bowers had the second-most kills (9) and the most blocks (2), senior setter Mackenzie Webb finished with 33 asssits, sophomore Layne Maultsby had a team-high 12 digs, senior Brianna Baysek recorded five kills, and Lampley chipped in four kills and four digs.
“We played really well last night, but played even better tonight. We didn’t give up today,” Wimpey added. “It’s nice to see that we’re still progressing. It’s just a really good feeling going into the playoffs.”
Richmond will likely have a bye in the first round of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Playoffs, which begins this Saturday. If that holds up, its first game will be Tuesday, Oct. 24, in the second round.
“I’m expecting them to give it 100 percent, like they have every single game this season. They know it’s do-or-die time, and I think these girls really step in those sorts of situations,” Wimpey said.
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The Richmond volleyball team poses for a picture following its three-set win over Pinecrest in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament championship game Wednesday evening. Holding the regular season and conference tournament championship trophies in the front row are junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley, left, and senior middle hitter Amia Pemberton.