Nov 10, 2009

UNC Asheville hands Lady Flames tough loss

by Chris McNair

In front of a season-high crowd of 1,214, the Lady Flames battled it out with conference rival UNC Asheville for first place Friday evening at the Vines Center, ending their five-match home winning streak with a 3-1 loss.

The Bulldogs came out fighting hard from the start, led by junior outside hitter Kelsey Benorden, who recorded
25 kills on the night.

Despite the Bulldogs’ relentless attack, Liberty matched their intensity throughout most of the match, as three Lady Flames finished with double-digit kills, paced by junior Nicki Scripko’s 17 kills.

The first set was tied at 7-7, until UNC Asheville broke it with a 6-0 burst, which would give them enough momentum to retain the lead all evening. UNC Asheville went on to take the first set, 25-18, hitting .343 in the first stanza.

The second set was the most competitive, featuring a dozen ties and three lead changes. After a sixth kill from Benorden the set was tied for the final time 20-20. Liberty then went on a 5-1 surge, highlighted by Scripko and freshman Loren Thomas, to wrap up the set 25-21.

The Lady Flames scored the first point of the third set, but it would be their only lead. UNC Asheville quickly countered with a 6-1 run. Liberty tied the set four times but was never able to capture the lead. A Cindi Miller kill finished off UNC Asheville’s 25-21 victory, giving the

Bulldogs a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Lady Flames got off to a great start in the fourth and final set after a Karyl Bacon kill. UNC Asheville then took control of the set, taking a 19-14 advantage after seven consecutive Liberty errors. Benorden tallied six more kills during the set to lead all players. Chelaine McCarty recorded five kills for Liberty.

Despite Scripko’s 10th double-double of the season, which included 17 kills and 16 digs, the Lady Flames were not able to overcome the UNC Asheville attack, losing in the fourth set 25-20.

“I think things went wrong in the beginning of the night. We had certain things in place of how we wanted to play this team tonight — certain things we wanted to take away. We got in the middle of the first set and didn’t do any of what we planned, so I’m really disappointed in our focus,” Pinder said.

The Bulldogs boost their record to 22-8 overall and 11-2 in the Big South, while Liberty falls to 15-11 overall
and 10-3 in conference play.

Coming off of a tough loss the previous night, the Lady Flames looked to bounce back against other conference rival Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center.

This was a night of milestones for Liberty, as senior Chelaine McCarty recorded her 1,000th career kill, and head coach Shane Pinder got win No. 100 of his collegiate coaching career.
Karyl Bacon led all players in both kills (16) and digs (15), giving the Lady Flames a big boost en route to a
3-0 sweep of Gardner-Webb.

The Bulldogs took an early 9-5 lead to begin the opening set. Liberty quickly responded, scoring 10 of the next 12 points. McCarty tallied three aces, which put Liberty ahead, 15-11. Liberty never trailed again in the first stanza, and a Scripko kill closed out a 25-18 victory.

Bacon shined in the second stanza, hitting .615 with eight kills. She initiated a set-clinching, come-from-behind 3-0 burst with a kill and service ace, both of which won the second
set for the Lady Flames, 28-26.

Liberty jumped to an 11-1 lead in the third set, sparked by senior McCarty’s 1,000th and 1,001st kills and a trio of Brittany Pacella aces. Freshman Loren Thomas then sealed the sweep
with a kill, finishing a 25-13 decision.

“It’s something I really wanted to do. I only accomplished it in three years so it made me feel really proud, especially as a middle,” McCarty said.

Pinder is now 100-88 in his sixth season as Liberty’s head coach. He becomes the fourth coach in program history to eclipse the century win mark, joining current Gardner-Webb head coach Chris Phillips (198 wins), Beth Dalton
(110) and Sue Kelly (103).

Liberty will now prepare for its final home match of the season, Tuesday at 7 p.m. against High Point. The contest will serve as Liberty’s Senior Night, and the trio of McCarty, Pacella and Corbin will be honored prior to the match.

Contact Chris McNair at

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