Richmond Academy’s theme for volleyball this year has been patience.
That motto, combined with strong leadership, has helped push the Lady Musketeers to new heights as they enter another postseason as a No. 1 seed.
After beating Burke County for the Region 3-AAAA championship this past Saturday, Richmond Academy will enter the Class AAAA playoffs as the No. 1 seed from its region and is set to face Shaw on Thursday in the first round. The two will meet at 5 p.m. at Westside High School.
Richmond Academy earned its second consecutive region title after making program history with its first last season, according to coach Peaches Stephens. The players agreed this year’s team is battle-tested and features the leadership to put it all together.
“We’ve worked very hard for it,” senior hitter Lucy Simons said. “It was a very intense game Saturday. After almost every point, it was a clap, yell. Even after we lost a point, we stayed positive. I made sure none of us got upset about it, because we all make mistakes. We stayed positive.”
Stephens attributed the positivity to strong team chemistry, led in large part by Simons. The coach said they’ve relied on a patient approach that’s helped them through the ups and downs that a volleyball match brings.
“That’s what our key word is for the season,” Stephens said. “A lot of times, if you hear us in the huddle on a break, that’s what we’re saying. Volleyball is such a patient game. One simple mistake and you give your opponent a point. Patience has definitely been our main focus.”
That approach, and a talented core of players, has produced a 12-4 mark for Richmond Academy this season. The Lady Musketeers topped Cross Creek, which enters as a No. 3 seed, and Burke County, the No. 2 seed, for the region title, including a 3-1 victory over the Lady Bears in the championship match.
Burke County took the first set Saturday by a slim margin, but Richmond Academy responded with a second-set win to even the match. The Lady Musketeers took over from there by running away with the third and fourth sets for the trophy.
“I wanted it again this year,” sophomore setter Camille Leibach said. “We got it done. I was really happy about it. We’re a stronger team now, so we can compete more with the higher teams, which is a lot more fun.”
The players want a better finish than last season when the Lady Musketeers were bounced in the first round. They agreed a state title is the goal. Stephens said they’re going to focus on their strengths and hope for the best.
“All we can be concerned about is what we can do,” she said. “We’re knowledgeable, skillful, athletic and experienced. Hopefully we can be patient and play the way we’re able to play. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen.”
Reach David Lee at (706) 823-3216 or firstname.lastname@example.org.