ROCKINGHAM — The South Stanly girls volleyball team needed all five games to defeat Richmond Senior 3-2 in the Lady Raiders’ first match of the season Tuesday evening.
Richmond would go up 2-1 after the first three games, but failed to capitalize — losing 25-14 and 15-5 in the last two matches.
Altman Griffin led the way for Richmond (0-1) with 10 kills. Owen Bowers added seven kills, Mackenzie Webb had 26 assists and Griffin and Trinity Stanley recorded a team-high nine digs.
“We’re a pretty strong team. When we get good passes and good sets, we can hit the ball as hard as anybody else,” said coach Shellie Wimpey. “But our problem is getting those passes and getting those sets.”
Neither team could get an edge in the first game of the night. Richmond was able to take an 18-16 lead over South Stanly (2-0), however, the Lady Bulls scored three straight points to take the lead heading into the game’s final moments.
But the Lady Raiders answered their opponent’s rally with one of their own — scoring seven points in a row to win the first game 25-19.
The second game was dominated by South Stanly’s Cidney Bowers and her ability to hit the ball with force and place it where Richmond couldn’t get to it in time. Cidney Bowers helped the visiting team win 25-11 to tie the match up at one game a piece.
“She’s a very strong hitter,” Wimpey added. “We made adjustments to where she was hitting, and I thought we did a lot better once we did that.”
Griffin got Richmond off to a great start in the third game that saw Bre Baysek record a kill to bring the home team within a point and Owen Bowers block a Cidney Bowers kill to put the Lady Raiders up by five.
A slow start in the fourth game — Richmond trailed 8-0 — essentially gave all the momentum to the Lady Bulls, and they never looked back.
“They’re really good competition, so it always helps us out to open up with them,” Wimpey explained. “But we’re very inconsistent. When you come out playing really strong in the first game, you’ve got to carry that over to the second game.”
Richmond will now get ready for the Black and Gold Classic at UNC-Pembroke this weekend, as it takes on South Columbus, Overhills and Cape Fear this Saturday.
In these next few days of practice, Wimpey says she wants to continue to work on how the team receives its opponents’ serves — which has been a key for them leading up into the season.
“That was the thing that hurt us when we did get down,” Wimpey said. “Not being able to pass a serve ball to the target. So, we’re going to have to do that every time. We’ve been working on it a lot.”
The Lady Raiders hope to finish above .500 this season, as they ended the 2015 campaign with a 12-12 overall record. Last year, they tied Scotland with a 7-3 conference record and fell in the second round of the state playoffs.
“Well, I’m hoping that we do a little bit better in the conference,” Wimpey added. “Maybe win it — that would be awesome.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.