ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond volleyball team’s fourth week of summer workouts — which came to an end Thursday morning — was one of its best efforts, head coach Ashleigh Larsen said, since the summer began.
Attendance numbers were high and consistent, the rising freshmen finally got comfortable enough to ask questions whenever they didn’t understand, and the returners fully have embraced their roles as leaders.
“Things have been going pretty good. We’ve had a lot of girls show up this week and we were able to take things a step further,” Larsen said. “There’s been a huge turnaround and we’re only in Week 4, so I’m excited.”
With so much going on during this time of the year, Larsen says she appreciates the fact that players, new and old, have shown their dedication to the program — as it enters a new era — by coming to all of the workouts.
“It’s really crucial, especially for the younger girls because the transition from middle school to high school is so different,” she explained. “We run a different system, so I appreciate those who have been here every time and keep coming back … They listen so well and they’re just so athletic. It’s really a blessing.”
Larsen, who’s entering her first season as head coach, understands that the Lady Raiders won’t be as dominant offensively as they have been in the past couple of years. They no longer have Bri Baysek, Owen Bowers and Altman Griffin to man the front line and rack up kills, nor do they have Mackenzie Webb as a setter to record nearly 30 assists per game.
So the main focus during the offseason has been to keep the opposition from scoring points.
“We’ve been drilling defense like there’s no tomorrow. If you can’t stop the other team, there’s no way you can run your offense anyway, so we’ve been doing a ton of serve-receive and defensive drills,” Larsen said. “We might not be the strongest offensive team this year, but no one’s going to find a hole on our court this year.”
Rising senior Savannah Lampley, an outside hitter, is the team’s returning kills leader and will be more than likely be relied on to carry the offense’s effort on a nightly basis. She has been, however, taking reps as a setter — like everyone else — during summer workouts due to Larsen’s search for the next “go-to” player as Webb’s replacement.
Rising senior Savannah Chappell (middle blocker/hitter) and rising juniors Jadyn Johnson (right-side hitter), Layne Maultsby (libero) and Allexis Swiney (right-side hitter) have all been working on setting teammates up for the kill as well.
“No matter wh
With the state’s mandatory dead period next week, the second and final one of the summer, the Lady Raiders will take a break from their summer workouts. When they come back, Tuesday, July 24, they will have three more days of practice before the season officially begins on Monday, July 30.
“I just pray the girls don’t sit at home. I’ve taught them some drills here that are easy to take home and work with,” Larsen said. “It is good to give them a little break to relax and get their minds ready, though, because when they come back it’ll be nonstop volleyball until, I’m hoping, the end of October.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.