SOUTHERN PINES — All things don’t have to come to an end. Well, not just yet.
The Richmond volleyball team was tested Tuesday evening but stood tall on the road, as it was able to block out cheers from a rowdy Pinecrest crowd and earn a four-set victory (19-25, 25-8, 26-24, 25-18) in order to keep its 16-game win streak alive.
“You just have to know going into someone else’s home court, and it being a big rivalry, that they’re going to have a student section and their fans are going to be loud. And anytime someone has home-court advantage, it goes in their favor,” head coach Shellie Wimpey said.
Pinecrest (9-4, 6-3 SAC) undoubtedly had momentum on its side after it took a late three-point lead in the first set. After battling back from a three-point deficit, 14-11, the home team tied things up and then got the crowd going with back-to-back points — which put it ahead 21-18 and forced Richmond to call a timeout.
A serve error put Richmond up to 19 but the Lady Patriots followed with four consecutive points, ending the opening set. That was the first set Richmond lost since it needed all five to win at Union Pines 21 days ago.
“We were playing one (defense) and then we saw they weren’t hitting there, they were hitting somewhere else. So we had to adjust and the girls did a really good job doing that,” Wimpey said. “It took a while for them to get into it, but once they did they were fine.”
Richmond (16-0, 9-0 SAC) looked like a different team in the second set, with senior middle hitter Brianna Baysek coming up with a string of big plays that helped the team jump out to an early 10-point advantage.
Following a good hustle play from senior setter Mackenzie Webb, Baysek tallied one of her three second-set kills and then recorded back-to-back blocks in order to put the Lady Raiders ahead 10-3. They would only give up five more points the rest of the way, opposed to the 15 they put on the board to win set No. 2 by a score of 25-8.
The third set was the most hard-fought set of the match, as Richmond trailed by as much as six points before making a late comeback. After her kill closed the gap to just two points, 21-23, senior middle hitter Owen Bowers took over serving duties and boosted the team to a two-point victory.
The Lady Raiders controlled the last-played set, as they never trailed and picked up 20 digs, 11 kills, two blocks and an ace.
“I told them if they wanted to keep their winning streak going, they needed to step up. They had prepared for us and we had prepared for them. It was going to come down to whoever made mistakes and whoever could play defense,” Wimpey explained. “We have big hitters, so all we have to do is get a good pass. If our back row steps up and does their job, we’re fine.”
Webb recorded 25 assists, senior outside hitter Altman Griffin had 18 digs and Baysek finished with a team-high 11 kills. Both Bowers and Griffin had 10 kills each and junior outside hitter Savannah Lampley was second with 16 digs.
Next up for Richmond, who only has six games left on the schedule, is a home match against Jack Britt on Thursday.
“My goal for these girls is to finish the season undefeated. They have all the tools they need,” Wimpey added. “They have worked so hard and they deserve to be undefeated. It’s just a matter of coming out and playing the game.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.