RICHMOND — One thing Richmond took away from Thursday night was determination.
The Red Devils are determined to see Muncie Central on the volleyball court again this season, especially if a rematch means the North Central Conference title is on the line.
The state-ranked Bearcats swept Richmond 25-17, 25-19, 25-13 in Tiernan Center, but Red Devil coach Matt Fisher was anything but displeased with his team.
“We know what we have in front of us now,” Fisher said. “We’d like to get to the NCC Tournament and meet them again.
“Hopefully we’ll learn from tonight and get better.”
Richmond dropped to 15-10 overall, and finishes 3-1 in the NCC’s East Division.
That should give the Red Devils no worse than a second seed in their division for the upcoming NCC Tournament on Oct. 10.
Fisher saw several positives Thursday night.
“Knowing that we can pass in a big game and be consistent. Knowing we can make some big defensive digs,” he said. “We were right there, back and forth some. We know we can play with one of the best teams in the state. It’s just a matter of showing consistency and showing a little bit more aggressiveness.”
Whenever the Red Devils built momentum, the Bearcats found a way to counter.
More often than not, the big hit came from Micah Leavell. The senior led Central, tied for 11th in the latest Class 4A poll, with 13 kills.
Melajah Bryant added four blocks for the Bearcats (13-4, 2-0), Virginia Wilhoite made 12 digs and Kinkaid Padgett finished with four aces.
“Richmond just continues to improve. They play volleyball the way it’s supposed to be played,” said Central coach Wes Lyon. “I thought we had to play our game and be on top of our game today. I was impressed with how we came out and kind of held our composure.
“I think our middle offense kind of caused them some problems and then that kind of opened up the outside.”
Lexus Perkins led RHS with 10 kills and added six digs and two blocks. Rebekah Johnston had 30 assists, six digs and six kills for the Red Devils, while Kiki Bentley finished with 10 digs and Paityn Farris contributed five kills.
The Red Devils are off until hosting their own invitational Oct. 3.
Richmond rallied from a nine-point deficit in Game 2 to pull within 22-18 after a Perkins kill and service point by Johnston, but the Bearcats pulled away.
The Red Devils also surged to a 7-6 lead in Game 3, until Central took 14 of the next 15 points.
“Veteran program, veteran team,” Fisher said of the Bearcats. “They take advantage of a situation they’ve been in a few times I’m sure in the last couple of years. A credit to Muncie Central, a great program and a great tradition and they were able to capitalize on some of the things they did well.”
Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463 firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI