By Jan Clark
Overall, a good day for the Richmond girls volleyball team at the North Central Conference tournament Saturday at the Tiernan Center.
The Red Devils, now 14-16, went 2-1, losing a heartbreaker to Kokomo in the opener 22-25, 24-26, but then defeating Logansport 26-24, 25-12, and Lafayette Jeff 25-23, 26-24. Translated, that means a ton of close sets.
“We wish we could have gotten that win against Kokomo but we really did try,” said junior Molly Morken.
Next is Pendleton Heights (19-10) in the Greenfield Sectional Thursday.
“We need to adjust to the team we’ll be playing, take a look at their offense and defense and find what shots we can hit,” Morken said. “Today, even when we got down and the games got close, we continued to stick together and play as a team.”
Richmond defeated Kokomo (17-11) earlier this year in a nail-biter and this was another one.
In set one, the Wildkats led 15-10 when freshman Laurelai DePew served RHS to within one. The Devils then took the lead 21-18 but couldn’t put em away. The Kats got seven of the next nine points. In set two, Richmond jumped to an 8-4 lead and the score was all even as late at 24-24. The Devils just couldn’t plug the dike at the end.
The first set against Logansport was more of the same but this time it was Richmond finishing at the end. The score was tied 15 times, the last at 24-24 on a kill by senior Zoee Woolridge. RHS got the final two points and Woolridge would end up with a team high 24 kills on the day.
Set two was much easier. Freshman Ashley Clark served Richmond to a quick 7-2 lead and kills by Rayonna Rogers and DePew put the score at 10-4. Back-to-back kills by DePew ended it.
Against Lafayette Jeff, the Devils trailed 12-8 when serving by Alison Juday tied the score at 12. A Clark service ace brought the two teams even at 17 and a Rogers kill made it 20-17. Later it was 24-all and this time it was Richmond with the two winning points.
In set two, with Clark again serving, Richmond jumped out to a 9-3 advantage. Two Kierra Wright kills put Richmond up 20-14 and a pair of Woolridge kills made it 23-23. Down 24-23 and one point away from losing, the Devils rallied for the winning three points.
“It was definitely great that we were able to stay together and get those critical points,” Rogers said.
“I think overall it was a good day. We stuck together. We made tough shots. We played the best today that we have in a long time. Our young players deserve a lot of credit. They’re really a big part of our team. We need them. Ashley (Clark) and Lauren (Uhte) played a great back row.”
Richmond coach Matt Fisher was well pleased with Saturday’s results.
“I don’t know why we didn’t come out and finish early against Kokomo. Maybe it was the time of day,” he said. “It’s been a problem for us all year. But then I told them not to ponder on it, don’t think about it, and then push to get two wins and I thought they did a really good job of that. We had good teams here today fighting and I was really happy how we finished today.”
“More than anything they played with a lot of energy today. As the day went on I thought our energy got bigger and bigger. Our freshmen and sophomores were putting passes where they needed to be and getting serves in for us, which is what we needed toward the end there. I thought a lot of our girls did a good job, especially our younger group coming in and getting serves across.
“I think we’ve come a long way since we started the year. And the girls we’re putting out there believe in themselves so I believe we can give Pendleton something that I don’t feel they saw when we started the season.”
Cumulative stats: Morken 2 aces, 5 kills, 16 digs, 55 assists; Wright 14 kills, 1 dig, 1 assist; Mays 1 ace, 12 kills, 8 digs; Woolridge 24 kills, 25 digs, 1 block; Thompson 13 digs, 5 assists; Rogers 6 kills, 3 digs; Juday 3 aces; DePew 1 ace, 6 kills, 14 digs, 3 blocks; Clark 1 ace, 3 kills, 8 digs, 3 assists; Uhte 4 aces, 14 digs, 1 assist.