Undeniable chemistry led volleyball program to best-ever season


By Leon Hargrove Jr. - lhargrove@yourdailyjournal.com



Daily Journal file photo Altman Griffin (13) was an integral part of the Richmond volleyball team’s unprecedented run through the 2017 season, earning Conference Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row after leading the Lady Raiders to a program record 25 wins.


ROCKINGHAM — The chemistry between seniors Brianna Baysek, Owen Bowers, Altman Griffin and Mackenzie Webb — and junior Savannah Lampley — was undeniable during the Richmond volleyball team’s historic run this past season.

All five Lady Raiders returned to the court in 2017 with the hopes of repeating as conference champions and finishing with a better overall record than last year. But much to their surprise, what took place over the course of the season superseded everyone’s expectations.

The hitting power of Baysek, Bowers and Griffin — added with Webb’s setting ability and Lampley’s presence on both offense and defense — helped Richmond break the school record for most wins in a season, go undefeated in the regular season, win both the conference’s regular-season and tournament titles, earn a No. 2 seed in the NCHSAA 4A State Playoffs and esssentially lay out the blueprint for future Lady Raiders.

“I think any time you have players that mesh well and have good chemistry, it’s going to show on the court. Especially in a game like volleyball, where you’re constantly communicating, having to back your teammates up, and being positive,” head coach Shellie Wimpey said. “Having them all play together last year and not losing anybody really set the tone.”

As she played alongside a group of talented upperclassmen, Griffin stood out as the team’s leader with her consistent performances. And because of that, the senior was named to the all-conference team — with Baysek, Bowers, Lampley and Webb — and won the conference’s Player of the Year award for the second straight year.

She would finish the season with nearly 300 kills and more than 70 aces.

“I thought she has really grown since last year, with her leadership and her positivity on the court. She was hitting the ball harder this year and she got stronger,” Wimpey said. “All of those sorts of things really made her a better player for our team as a hole.”

That’s not to say that only the five all-conference selections were the only important parts of the team’s success. Seniors Laini Wright and Amia Pemberton, junior Savannah Chappell and sophomores Jadyn Johnson, Layne Maultsby and Allexis Swiney all played their respective roles well in what was an unprecedented year for Richmond volleyball.

Both Maultsby, defensive specialist, and Swiney, right-side hitter, were starters this past season and had an impact while they were on the floor. Maultsby finished multiple matches with the most digs on the team, while Swiney used her all-around game to register a number of kills, digs, blocks and aces on any given night.

“I still have a lot of girls coming back,” Wimpey said. “And I’m looking forward to seeing how they progress and watching them grow the same way I watched these seniors grow.”

The Lady Raiders’ season, which included winning 19 matches in three sets and only losing a total of 10 sets on the year, came to an end last Tuesday when they fell to Lake Norman in the second round of the playoffs — their only loss on the season.

Although Richmond was bounced out of the second round for the third year in a row, Wimpey can’t help but be proud of her team going 22-0 in the regular season and finishing with a 25-1 overall record.

Being able to witness, and be a part of, such a historic run doesn’t come around that often.

“You would like to be undefeated any time you go into a season, but we just really wanted to work on getting better,” Wimpey said. “We ended up accomplishing a lot of things that kind of set the tone for the program in the future.”

Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.

Daily Journal file photo Altman Griffin (13) was an integral part of the Richmond volleyball team’s unprecedented run through the 2017 season, earning Conference Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row after leading the Lady Raiders to a program record 25 wins.
http://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/web1_celebrate-1.jpgDaily Journal file photo Altman Griffin (13) was an integral part of the Richmond volleyball team’s unprecedented run through the 2017 season, earning Conference Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row after leading the Lady Raiders to a program record 25 wins.

By Leon Hargrove Jr.

lhargrove@yourdailyjournal.com

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