Sep 11, 2007

Lady Flames in ‘Wright State’ of mind

by Anjani Salonen, Sports Reporter

The Liberty University Lady Flames volleyball team continued its non-conference schedule this past weekend by winning two out of three matches.


On Friday night, the Lady Flames fell to South Florida 3-1 in the first match of the Wright State Raider Challenge in Dayton, Ohio (24-30, 30-23, 23-30, 25-30).


For much of the first game, the scores were close, but with the Lady Flames attack percentage at a mere 0.28, the Bulls won the first game.  South Florida’s Marcela Gurgel had seven kills in the game, matching the Lady Flames team kills.


Liberty improved its attacking game in the second contest to .222.  The team dominated most of the game, led by redshirt juniors Jessica Nelson and Alysson Sanders.  The match against South Florida was Sanders’ first start of the season since coming back from an injury as she posted 12 kills on the night, just one behind Nelson who finished with 13.


In the third game and with the match all square, South Florida prevailed with its serving.  The Bulls had an astonishing 10 aces in the game, as serving was the deciding factor in the match that saw them win by a score of 30-23.


South Florida went on to win the fourth game and the match by jumping out to a 15-8 advantage. Despite a late Lady Flames rally, the Bulls went on to win 30-25.


Liberty made a statement on Saturday, beating host team Wright State 3-1 (30-23, 30-27, 26-30, 30-23).


Despite falling behind in the first game, the Lady Flames went on a seven-point run and took a 16-11 lead.  Senior Mary Alice Pike got her first start of the season and made the most of it, serving for four points to give the Lady Flames the lead.  The Raiders tried to catch up but Liberty ended the game on a five-point run. 


The Flames continued their run in the second game by scoring the first six points of the contest to jump out to a 6-0 lead.  Liberty never trailed and, despite the close score, smoothly rolled to a second game victory of 30-27 to take a 2-0 advantage.


The Raiders continued to fight and led for the majority of the third game behind a strong effort from senior Tara Geegan. Geegan led the Raiders with seven kills during its 30-26 third game victory, cutting the Lady Flames lead to 2-1.


A solid serving and attacking game helped the Lady Flames take the fourth game and the match.  Junior Ashley Webber and sophomore Chelaine McCarty each starred for the Lady Flames in the game, both recording five kills in the 30-26 victory.


Webber led the Flames with 14 kills for a .636 attack percentage and zero errors in the match to go along with six blocks on the night.  Setter Kallie Corbin recorded 47 assists, 14 digs and seven kills while Nelson continued her excellent play with 12 kills and 23 digs.


On Saturday night against the Citadel, the Lady Flames brought out the brooms and swept the Bulldogs 3-0 (30-25, 30-12, 30-16) for their second victory of the day to finish in second place behind South Florida.  Sanders and Nelson led the Lady Flames with 14 and 13 kills, respectively, while Corbin finished the match with 39 assists, nine kills and eight digs en route to being named to the All-Tournament team.  Overall, the team agreed that the Challenge was beneficial. 


“We were hoping to pull off two wins this weekend and play competitive with South Florida, and that’s exactly what we did,” Pinder said. “I felt good about our offense; our middles took over and had a great weekend.”

Nelson agreed with Pinder, saying, “We fought to keep the middles in the game especially against the Citadel.  We had some pretty big plays from some pretty big players. I think it was good to focus on taking care of our responsibilities with a relentless pursuit. It was a good effort from everybody.”


 Webber said, “We talked about doing the small things and that’s what we did this week. Everybody just focused on doing their part and we pulled out two wins.” 


Liberty will continue to work on “the small things” this week in practice and then will hit the road again, this time to Villanova, Penn. for the Villanova Invitational.


“Overall, I’m really excited about heading to Villanova,” said Pinder.  “I’ve seen a lot of team chemistry forming from the older players on down to the younger players.  Everybody did a great job this weekend.”

Contact Anjani Salonen at asalonen@liberty.edu.


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