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The Liberty Flames volleyball team was in high spirits on Friday, Aug. 30, as it played its first game of the Northern Illinois University (NIU) Invitational against the nationally-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes
Liberty fell short and was swept by the Buckeyes (25-22, 25-22, 26-24). The Buckeyes outhit the Flames 45 kills to 33.
Senior Lillie Happel led the Flames on the day with 15 kills, recording 10 or more kills in a season opener for the fourth straight time. Setter Jade Craycraft recorded 26 assists and seven digs in the match.
The Flames were looking for their first win of the season as they headed into the second day of the NIU Invitational against the NIU Huskies.
NIU took the match from the Flames, winning all three games with 25-16, 25-15, 25-22 scores. The win put NIU them at 3-0 for the season and pushed Liberty’s record to 0-2.
With a .300 attack percentage, the Huskies posted 45 kills against Liberty’s 22 kills.
The Flames gained momentum and took the lead in the third set, 16-14, but were unable to hold onto the lead, tying the game at 17-17. NIU then pulled through, taking the third set.
Craycraft aided the team with five kills, seven digs and 14 assists. Happel had five kills in the match and Junior Gabrielle Shipe led the Flames in digs with 17.
Liberty took on Green Bay in its last effort to gain a win in the NIU Invitational on Saturday, Aug. 31, but lost in a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-21, 25-20).
The Flames were down in the first set 18-13, but fought back, rallying to score the next five points. Green Bay came back and won the game point on a Liberty error, winning 25-23.
Green Bay took an early lead in the second match (10-2), but the Flames came through decreasing the Phoenix lead to two. Green Bay kept the lead through the second set, taking another game from
In a last-chance effort, the Flames came out ready for a win in the third set. The set was tied 15-15 until Green Bay went on a 9-2 rally, putting the Phoenix at match point. Green Bay held on to sweep the Flames in the final game.
Green Bay held a slight lead in digs, 52-49, in the match and also led the Flames in hitting percentage, .158 to .115.
Redshirt senior Kendle Rollins led the Flames with 10 kills, Craycraft led in assists with 20 and Shipe posted a season-high 20 digs.
Averaging 5.22 digs per set on the weekend, Shipe was named to the NIU Invitational All-Tournament team.
Liberty will host Georgetown in its home opener Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.