By Jan Clark
Words can’t describe the week just completed by the Richmond girls volleyball team.
What were the odds that the Red Devils could defeat the likes of Delta, Greenfield-Central and New Castle all in a span of four days.
Guess what. It happened.
Thursday at the Tiernan Center Richmond came from behind to oust the Trojans in four sets 23-25, 25-20, 25-21, 28-26. It doesn’t get any closer than that. The RHS hat trick this week upped the Devils’ record to 7-2 and extended their win streak to six in a row.
“Warren Cook, our athletic director, came into our huddle at the end and told us this was the most historic week in Richmond volleyball history and I can’t argue with that,” coach Russ Uhte said. The junior varsity lost the preliminary 20-25, 20-25.
The fourth set that decided the varsity match was one for the ages. The score was deadlocked 11 times and the scrappy Trojans threatened to pull it out twice at the very end but failed.
Richmond senior Haylee Haskett, who unofficially led Richmond in kills with 17, tied the score at 9-9. Kills by Ashley Clark and Jakaia Lotz made it 11-11. New Castle led 19-16 but a Kennedy McKee ace narrowed the gap to 19-18. Tied again 20-20, 21-21. A Clark kill made it 22-21 but New Castle tied the score once again. It was also even 23-23. A New Castle service ace put the Trojans up 24-23, one point away from sending the match to a fifth set. But the next serve found the net and it now stood 24-24.
A Lotz kill put Richmond up 25-24 but New Castle tied it again. Haskett made it 26-25 but again New Castle evened the score. Then Laurelai DePew came through with a huge kill to put Richmond up 27-26 and the Trojans faltered on the next point to give Richmond the set and match.
Backing up Haskett’s 17 kills were Clark with 15, DePew six, Lotz and Uhte five each. Clark also had four service aces, Uhte and McKee two each and DePew one.
Set three nearly got away from the Devils as the Trojans jumped out to a 9-4 lead. Richmond caught up at 17-17 on two consecutive Clark aces. Haskett added a pair of kills, Clark a kill and DePew a kill to help the Devils score the last four points of the set.
Set two saw Richmond lead 24-17 and Clark put it away at the end. Clark also had a stretch earlier when she had four kills and back-to-back aces in a short span. In set one the score was tied as late as 23-23 on a Haskett kill but New Castle scored eight of the last 10 points. The Devils led 22-17 but couldn’t hold on.
“I’m very proud of my team. We didn’t expect to win. We knew we were going to put up a fight but didn’t think we’d win. But we got three excellent wins in a row this week,” said Lauren Uhte, the team’s setter. “Probably the most intense week of my entire life. I’m very lucky my shoulder injury went away when it did. I was very glad to have my serve back and support my team again.”
Lauren is closing in on 200 career aces while DePew and Clark will reach 500 career kills in the very near future. DePew has already surpassed 700 career digs.
Haskett enjoyed probably her most productive night of the season against New Castle. “This week was very difficult but we really played our game,” she said. “This may have been my best game and I just had to push myself. Now we’ve got the hardest part of our schedule behind us so we just have to keep pushing.”
And a tired group across the board after three signature wins in 96 hours. “We’ve been anticipating this week and what this week could be. I don’t know about the girls but I’m exhausted,” coach Uhte said. “These girls don’t bow down to pressure. They rise up to pressure.”
Richmond was to play two matches in the Hagerstown 3-way Saturday but that event was canceled.
“I’m terribly disappointed we can’t play Saturday. We wanted Hagerstown and Triton Central with the roll we’re on,” Uhte said. “We have something to prove to both of those teams this year. I’m upset we’re losing two matches so I’d like to schedule Hagerstown later this year if we can.”
(Photos – Richmond Volleyball)