By Jan Clark
Richmond recovered quickly from its season-opening girls volleyball loss at Pendleton Monday by downing Winchester at the Tiernan Center Wednesday 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 in the first home match of the year.
The RHS junior varsity also gained its first win of the season 25-11, 21-25, 15-6.
“After the Pendleton match we realized what our weaknesses were,” remarked Ja’Kaia Lotz, one of seven seniors on the team. “Communication is definitely the key. We emphasize that in practice.”
By far the most drama-filled set in the match was the third one. The outcome was tense until the final point, which turned out to be a kill by Ashley Clark.
The score was tied 5-5 when the Falcons ran off six straight points, forcing a Richmond time out,. Clark stopped the bleeding with a back row kill. Then a Laurelai DePew kill and a service ace by Haylee Haskett tied the match 11-11.
It was back and forth from then on. A Clark kill down the left sidelines, a Lotz kill, another Clark back row kill, net kills by Adrianne Weber and DePew, another Clark kill, a Lauren Uhte kill and a DePew service ace set up the final match-winning stroke by Clark.
The well-balanced Richmond front line was a key in the final results. Unofficially, DePew led the Red Devils with 11 kills, Clark had 10, Haskett eight and Lotz seven. Clark and Kennedy McKee each had a pair of aces. DePew, Haskett and Daphne Ruiz all had one.
“I liked what I saw out of our girls Monday night (at Pendleton) in that first set and I told the girls coming into tonight that Winchester was going to come in fired up after they beat a very good Cowan team last night,” Richmond coach Russ Uhte said.
“The third set tonight was a good test for us to see how we would react when we got down six or seven points (11-5). That’s hard to recover from. That’s a quarter of the game. I told the girls that volleyball is one point at a time.”
Set one was close until Richmond pulled away from a 9-9 tie. Haskett led the way with five kills while DePew had two blocks and Lotz one.
Richmond jumped off to a 6-2 lead in set two on aces by Clark, Ruiz and McKee. Junior Taliyah Brewer came off the bench to spark the team with a block and a kill near the end. RHS had a 21-8 lead but the Falcons rallied to make it closer at the end.
Richmond competes in the Kokomo Invitational Saturday followed by a challenging week next week — Monday at home against Delta, Wednesday at Greenfield-Central, New Castle here Thursday and the Hagerstown triangular Saturday.