Scotland varsity volleyball coach David Barnes has seen 11 different senior classes come and go throughout his decorated career leading the Fighting Scots.
But as the Fighting Scots welcomed Richmond on the final night of their regular season for “Senior Night,” it became a farewell of sorts for both the players and Barnes.
After his team’s postseason run is over, Barnes will step down as head coach of the volleyball squad he’s led to seven straight conference championships.
And on this night against the Raiders, Scotland did exactly what fans and followers of the team have grown accustomed to seeing over the course of their seasons under Barnes.
“There was a lot of emotions pouring out before the game, but once the match started the switch was flipped and we got after it,” said Barnes after his team’s three-game sweep of Richmond. Scotland bested the Raiders 25-14, 25-18, and 25-11.
“We jumped on Richmond pretty good, and now it’s a question of whether we can hit our stride at just the right time with the playoffs right around the corner. Tonight wasn’t the final match for our seniors or for myself.”
The Fighting Scots stormed right out of the gate in the first game, as the team treated those in the bleachers to a familiar sight: Brianna Harris setting up Caroline Pridgen and Libby Ingram with numerous kill opportunities. Harris finished with 25 assists, which is the most she’s gained in a single match during her stellar senior season.
While the night was dedicated to the five seniors on the Fighting Scots (Harris, Pridgen, Ingram, Destinee Grove and Greta Griswold), Scotland junior Maddie Milholland demonstrated that she has the skill set to help carry the torch next season. Having consistently improved her game throughout the 2012 season, Milholland led her teammates with four serving aces and also had 10 kills as Scotland coaches gave her more opportunities to attack the opposing team.
The first game ended with Pridgen notching two consecutive serving aces of her own, then setting up Ingram for a game-clinching kill.
Richmond would battle back in the second game and even took a 17-16 lead at one point, prompting Barnes to call a time out.
“When I called that time out it wasn’t pretty,” Barnes said. “I think the second game was a case of us playing around instead of playing. I got on their case pretty good, because we’re preparing for bigger and better things so we need to stay sharp.”
When the Scots returned to the floor, they did so appearing refocused and it reflected in their play, as Scotland closed out the second game with an 8-1 run.
Scotland’s energy didn’t dissipate in the third and deciding game either, and the result was a 25-11 throttling of the Raiders led by the power-hitting Pridgen and Ingram. Pridgen led the match with 17 kills and Ingram followed her with 11.
Griswold would also record a typically solid performance as well, leading her team with six digs and 17 of 20 passes on target.
With the win, Scotland closed their season with a perfect 19-0 record and a first-round bye in next week’s southeastern conference tournament. The Fighting Scots will be hosting a team to be determined on Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m.