It was an electrifying volleyball matchup in a storied rivalry as Richland played Brookhaven on the Bears home court on Sept. 26.
Despite fielding a revamped squad this season, it was still similar mistakes from previous seasons that haunted Richland as they fell short with a 3-0 loss. This was Richland’s second consecutive loss in the conference this season.
Coach Zelda Smith believed a lack of confidence, consistency and small mistakes cost them the game.
“They [conference games] were so close games and at points we were winning. It seemed liked they [Richland] weren’t feeling like everything was going as well as it really was,” Smith said.
In the first set, the Bears had the early jumpstart till the Thunderducks clawed their way into the game. Brookhaven had multiple leads in the first set but couldn’t sustain them until they went 23-22. Brookhaven capitalized on two successive sloppy mistakes from Richland to take the first set 25-22.
The second set was easier for Brookhaven. Similar defensive mistakes from Richland saw them loose points in the second set. On multiple occasions, the Richland setter placed the ball too close to the net which created an uphill task for the hitter to strike the ball with proper contact.
“We did have some problems with our quarterback, our setter,” I don’t know what was going on. One of them had a headache. And so, that controls everything.”
The third set was rife with emotion. The Brookhaven fans were rowdy; jumping, screaming and encroaching in celebration of every play and point from the Bears. Synchronized chants of “yes, yes, yes” rang out with each touch of the ball from Brookhaven and a collective chant of “no, no, no” rang out to intimidate the Thunderducks when they had possession of the ball.
It was an intense third set with both teams trading points until the game tied at 23-23. Brookhaven scored two points in quick succession to take the third set and win the game 3-0.
Richland lost by this score last year at Brookhaven. This year there was noticeable difference and improvement in Richland’s approach and personnel.
After a disappointing season last year, Smith cut most of her team. Lorena Perez is the only remaining member from last year’s squad. Smith is adamant that this new team is better equipped to challenge in the conference this year.
“I needed a higher caliber team. And if you saw us last year, then you could see that we only had really one player. I needed strong minded, more athletic and more mentally strong [women] for the game,” Smith said. “They are more committed to it [and] are here for one thing”
Richland will host Eastfield next on Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.