Hannah Richardson Helps Chapel Hill Down Kilgore on Senior Night
It was almost too fitting.
With only one point standing between Chapel Hill and a victory, Hannah Richardson delivered. She tapped the ball over the net and celebrated with her team as it rolled down a Kilgore player's back. Chapel Hill clinched the victory, 3-2 over Kilgore. It won the first, third and final sets by scores of 25-14, 25-19 and 15-12 to clinch a playoff berth.
The night was devoted to Richardson. The lone senior for Chapel Hill, she walked out with her mother, father and brother before the game to a crowd cheering her on. After she was honored with cheers and claps, her teammates came over and formed a huddle with her in the middle.
"Being the only one out there, I was pretty nervous," she said. "But it was really exciting to see all my teammates coming over and supporting me."
She finished the match with six kills and a team-high 17 digs. Coach Linda Godwin said it couldn't have been a better performance on such a night.
"She served lots of points tonight," she said. "It was a good night for her. She might not have led in kills, but she led in so many different areas. She just had a great night for her senior night."
After pulling away late in the first set to win 25-14, Chapel Hill was faced with a challenge in the second set. It appeared it would lose the first set, trailing 23-17. However, it made a fierce comeback to tie things at 24. Ultimately, though, the lead proved two big. After Chapel Hill hit the ball out of bounds and then into the net, Kilgore took the set, 30-28.
Things continued this way with Chapel Hill mostly controlling the third set and Kilgore the fourth.
Things were competitive in the fifth.
After Chapel Hill raced to a 7-2 lead, Kilgore called timeout. However, it didn't appear to help much. Anchored by Kamryn Wages, who led the team in kills with seven, Chapel Hill continued to build its lead up to 9-3.
But Kilgore came alive.
It went on a 7-1 run to tie the game at 10. This time, it was Chapel Hill who needed a timeout.
However, Kilgore never took the lead. Wages scored again to make it 11-10. Although Kilgore would tie it once more at 12, Chapel Hill finished with three straight scores, including Richardson's final one.
Godwin said she felt the emotion of the evening played a factor.
"With it being senior night, I felt we had an advantage because of our emotions," she said. "We definitely wanted to win for Hannah. When we called a timeout at 10-10, I said, 'All right, ladies. We have a game to five. The team that makes the least mistakes is going to win. We have an advantage. We need to win this for Hannah.' I think that's what motivated them to pull out those last points."
Chapel Hill has a matchup with Gladewater on Friday. The victory tied Chapel Hill for fourth with Kilgore, so Godwin said it is imperative to win on Friday.
Meanwhile, they will relish this victory and what Richardson has given the program over the past four years --all of which she spent on the varsity team.
"She is gonna be a huge loss for us," Godwin said. "She plays all the way around. She is a leader on the court. Her role is to keep everything calm, to lead by example and go make plays. She's not just a leader on this floor. She's a leader in the classroom, the hallways. She's beautiful inside and out and all the kids look up to her."