The Lady Flames volleyball team arrived in Kent, Ohio, Sept. 7 looking to extend their seven match winning streak at the Kent State Mizuno Classic.
The Flames started the tournament hot, defeating Saint Francis in straight sets (25-20, 25-18, 25-16).
Sophomore outside hitter Ansley Gebben led the Flames with nine kills in the match. Freshman Haley Jeffcoat and junior Kendle Rollins were right behind with eight kills.
“Our outside hitters and middles did a really nice job of scoring against them. We put together a nice win there,” head coach Shane Pinder said.
Tournament host Kent State brought its game and made the match one to fight for. The Lady Flames won the first match (28-26) and the second (26-24).
Kent State was ready for a comeback though, winning the next two (27-25, 25-17), but the Lady Flames were determined to take back the fifth set.
The Lady Flames were leading the fifth and final set (12-5) when Kent State mounted one last comeback effort, scoring three straight points to pull within four. But the Lady Flames finished strong, winning the last set on a kill by Caroline Douglas (15-11).
Douglas posted a team-high 16 kills and Gebben added 12. Junior Jade Craycraft had 45 assists and 12 digs on the night. Sophomore Gabrielle Shipe had a team-high 19 digs and junior Becca Haraf contributed 10 more.
Pinder was proud of the way his team performed in a tight situation.
“It was one of those matches where it was kind of point-for-point, and you had to execute to win,” Pinder said.
Riding the momentum of an eight-game winning streak, the Lady Flames were ready to take on Marshall in the final round of the tournament Sept. 8.
Marshall, on the other hand, was determined to not let the Flames streak reach nine. The Thundering Herd swept the match, winning three straight sets (25-18, 25-19, 25-15).
Marshall had a hitting average of .306, compared to Liberty’s .181.
Douglas paced the Flames with nine kills for the afternoon. Senior Loren Thomas collected seven kills and nine blocks. Craycraft had 23 assists, six kills and six digs.
“Marshall did a nice job in that match and outplayed us. There is no doubt about that, but they were just better than us in that moment,” Pinder said.
The Lady Flames may have fallen short against Marshall, but were able to finish the tournament with a 2-1 record. Douglas and Thomas were named to the all-tournament team.
“I think this group will show great resolve and get ready to play University of Virginia and Virginia Tech next weekend,” Pinder said.
Liberty will head to Charlottesville, Va. on Saturday, Sept. 15, where they will take on Virginia Tech at 1 p.m. and UVA at 7 p.m. in the Virginia Tournament.