For a young, developing team, Monday night’s volleyball foe for Richmond at Tiernan Center was far from ideal.
Visiting Delta, a Class 3A power from the loaded region around Muncie, showed why the team will be a force to be reckoned with this season — and the Eagles demonstrated areas of improvement needed for the Red Devils moving forward.
The game scores were 25-15, 25-7, 25-16, as the winning Eagles moved to 3-1 on the young season, while RHS remained winless in a busy two-week stretch to begin the fall season.
But in both the first and third games, Richmond was right in the fight for the lead at the midpoint.
Then the talented Delta team took over.
All of which left RHS coach Matt Fisher, and senior setter Hannah Foley, both encouraged about the potential to make big improvements as the season continues.
“We are going to learn a lot from this match, our middles are going to benefit from seeing the angles the balls were hit against us, and the quickness we saw on the other side,” Fisher said.
“For us, whether we are playing one of the Muncie area teams, or one of our area teams, is we have to pass the ball, and that is where we struggled tonight.”
RHS has five returning seniors, along with five incoming freshmen who are all seeing action in each match.
“We are getting together well as a team, the attitudes are good, and there is a lot of enthusiasm,” Fisher said. “What we need to do is be solid on the back row, and since we have young hitters anxious to hit the ball, be sure that we get the ball up to the front row.”
Delta’s strong service game was evident Monday, as the Devils were playing a sixth match in just eight days to start the season.
Richmond also was playing without Chloe Bennett, out with an injury, and got limited court time from junior Shelby Miller, the team’s leading returning hitter, who could play just one game, as per the doctor, as she recovers from a concussion suffered in the season-opening loss at Pendleton Heights last Monday.
Miller is expected to be available full-time for the team’s next match Wednesday at Muncie South.
Foley is still optimistic about this year’s team, despite the six straight losses to start the season.
“We are playing five freshmen, but all of the girls this year are really supportive of each other, which is a good thing this year,” Foley said. “We have to be open to change each match, like we changed some of our defense for this match, and I didn’t think that we did too bad, considering that it was the first match with those changes.”
Freshmen Brooklyn Vickers, Paityn Farris and Lexus Perkins were starters for the Devils on Monday, while classmate Kaesha Bentley and Megan Crass are also on the varsity team. Senior players in action included Bri Flood at libero, plus Foley, Tabitha Smith, Sydney Townsend and Natalie Kitchin.
Sophomore transfer Deziree Alexander and Miller also saw court time.
Richmond scored the first two points of the match, and trailed just 15-12 after the first service rotation of the opening game.
But Delta then recorded 10 of the next 13 points to pull away and win the game.
The Eagles just rolled in Game 2, as all 15 Delta players saw court time in a dominating 25-7 game rout.
Richmond, however, did not quit.
The Devils led for much of the third game, even held a slim 11-10 lead after the first service rotation, and were still within a pair at 16-14 past the midway point of Game 3.
But the Eagles spurted once again, scoring nine of the last 11 points to win 25-16.
This was Delta’s first match since a Saturday night, five-game marathon at home versus Class 4A power New Castle, an unbeaten and highly-regarded squad. The Trojans took the first two games, before the Eagles rallied to take Games 3 and 4.
New Castle, however, regrouped to win the fifth and deciding game 15-10, in a big, early-season showdown between two of East Central Indiana’s best varsity clubs.
Richmond’s Monday experience should hold the Red Devils in good stead in the challenging matches in the upcoming weeks.
In matchups with area schools, RHS plays at Northeastern on Sept. 3, then hosts Eaton (Ohio) on Sept. 5