By Jan Clark
This was to be the most difficult week of the season for the Richmond girls volleyball team and the Red Devils kicked it off in sensational style Monday at the Tiernan Center by upsetting highly-regarded Delta before a boisterous and appreciative crowd 20-25, 25-17, 25-17, 25-19. The junior varsity fell 15-25, 25-18, 15-17. Led by senior Ashley Clark’s 21 kills, the Red Devils extended the momentum they gained in the Kokomo Invitational over the weekend to improve their record to 5-2. “We can play with anybody and tonight we proved it,” Richmond coach Russ Uhte said. “I went back through the records of Max Preps the last 10 to 12 years and I can’t find where Richmond has taken a single set from Delta. These girls played their hearts out today. Super excited for this team. We needed to win a game that we were expected to lose and we were expected to lose tonight. I loved the energy on the court. We’re all about playing for each other and you saw that tonight.”
Richmond played the Eagles tough from the start but lost the first set despite four consecutive Clark kills that tied the score at 19-19. Delta got six of the last eight points.
Clark was on fire from then on. Two Ashley kills and a Laurelai DePew block got RHS off to a 3-0 start in set two. The Devils mounted a 19-12 lead on a Daphne Ruiz ace, forcing a Delta time out. By the end of set two Clark already had 10 kills (unofficially) to her credit. She tacked on seven more in set three. DePew ended up with 12 kills on the night, Haylee Haskett 10, Jakaia Lotz eight and Lauren Uhte four.
Uhte, who surpassed 1,000 career assists last weekend, returned to her regular serving after missing several games due to tendinitis in her shoulder. Clark had three aces on the night, Uhte and Ruiz two each. All stats are unofficial.
Coach Uhte was especially glowing in his praise of Clark’s performance.
“Ashley’s never played better in her entire life,” the coach said. “I’ve been her coach since the fourth grade and she had an incredible night tonight.”
DePew and Clark have played side by side on the front row now for the fourth year. “We’ve played together ever since middle school,” Laurelai said. “As a team we’ve come a long way in four years and I think this year we’re going to have a strong winning record.”
Clark gave credit to her teammates. “I think we were all on fire tonight,” she said. “I think we work really well together as a team. We’ve got Greenfield-Central next, then New Castle and I think we’re ready for it.”
After losing set one, Richmond won the next three. In set four everyone helped out, including those who came off the bench. Haskett came alive with six kills in the final set, including the final two of the match.
The Devils go on the road Wednesday at Greenfield, returning home Thursday to host New Castle, a team they’ve lost to two years in a row in the sectional.
(Photo Courtesy of Susan Brumbaugh Richwine)