Sep 8, 2009

Lady Flames battle it out at invitational

by Chris McNair

The Lady Flames rocked the Vines Center over the weekend as they hosted the Liberty Invitational, posting wins against East Tennessee State and Howard before falling to Elon in the championship game on Saturday evening.

It was Liberty junior Karyl Bacon’s 20th birthday and she celebrated Friday night with a 3-0 sweep over East Tennessee State University (ETSU). With the victory, the Lady Flames evened their record at 2-2 on the season. They also dropped ETSU of the Atlantic Sun Conference to 0-4.

Fellow junior Nicki Scripko led the charge for the Lady Flames, hitting a career-high .692 attack percentage with a season-best 18 kills. Her performance sparked the Flames offensive attack and led to the sweep.

The Flames were able to bounce back this week from two losses at the hands of Montana and Virginia Tech last week.

“We just really concentrated on executing and some of our blocking this week in practice. It was great to see the girls respond and come out tonight and get a solid victory against a good program,” Pinder said.

Along with Scripko, Bacon was a lightning bolt for the Flames. Her “above-the-net” play gave her teammates a boost and elevated the rest of the team to the same level.

“When I recruited her, I named her my ‘Little David’ because she’s not big in stature but she plays like she’s 6 feet tall,” Pinder said.

According to Pinder, Bacon’s value to the program is more than her athletic ability. She also anchors the team emotionally.
On Saturday, the Flames stomped over Howard, sweeping them in the process for their second sweep of the tournament and third this season. Senior Chelaine McCarty propelled the Lady Flames with 10 kills and an attack percentage of .692.

There were some things McCarty felt she needed to work on from last week in order to be more effective in this weekend’s tournament.

“All week, I’ve been really working on making sure I get in chase position for the slide and just hitting off hands because last weekend I didn’t do such a good job at that,” McCarty said.

The win puts Liberty at 3-2 on the season, while Howard remained winless at 0-6.

Only Elon stood in the Lady Flames’ way to a championship on Saturday evening. Elon overcame a fast start by the Lady Flames to eventually capture to tournament title with a hard-fought 3-1 victory.

Liberty senior setter Kallie Corbin reached a pair of career milestones, recording her 4,000th career assist and her 50th career double double. Corbin became the fourth Lady Flame to reach the 4,000-career assist plateau.

McCarty was also instrumental in the Lady Flames’ quick start. She served for four points, which included two aces, also adding an assist and a block during their 7-1 burst out of the gate.

Liberty’s relentless defense keyed early success, as they finished the first stanza with 20 kills and three blocks, holding the Phoenix to a dismal .026 attack percentage.

“All week, I’ve been really working on making sure I get in chase position for the slide and just hitting off hands because last weekend I didn’t do such a good job at that,” McCarty said.

The win puts Liberty at 3-2 on the season, while Howard remained winless at 0-6.

Only Elon stood in the Lady Flames’ way to a championship on Saturday evening. Elon overcame a fast start by the Lady Flames to eventually capture to tournament title with a hard-fought 3-1 victory.

Liberty senior setter Kallie Corbin reached a pair of career milestones, recording her 4,000th career assist and her 50th career double double. Corbin became the fourth Lady Flame to reach the 4,000-career assist plateau.

McCarty was also instrumental in the Lady Flames’ quick start. She served for four points, which included two aces, also adding an assist and a block during their 7-1 burst out of the gate.

Liberty’s relentless defense keyed early success, as they finished the first stanza with 20 kills and three blocks, holding the Phoenix to a dismal .026 attack percentage.

The momentum of the match changed dramatically after Bacon went down with an injury. After finishing off a 3-0 Liberty run with back-to-back kills lifting the Flames to a 17-16 edge, Bacon, in an attempt to keep a ball headed out of bounds in play, made contact with the post and fell awkwardly on her ankle. She was sidelined for the remainder of the match.

Elon immediately took advantage of Bacon’s absence, turning a 21-21 tie into a 25-23 victory in the second set.

It was clear that Bacon’s absence affected the Flames’ performance. Coach Pinder was forced to call on younger, more inexperienced players, and as a result lost their only match on the tournament.

“I think they pressured us and got us uncomfortable with their serve, and we didn’t do a good job of pressuring them with our serve. They were loading on Nicki, putting double blocks on her all night, and she didn’t score as much as I thought she would in this match,” Pinder said.

Corbin and McCarty were both voted to the All-Tournament team. This is the second time Corbin has earned her spot on an all-tournament team.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for anything, but I have to give it back to God for giving me the talent,” Corbin said.

“It’s exciting to be honored with as many good players as there were in the gym,” McCarty said.

The Lady Flames finished the tournament with a record of 2-1, and return to action Friday at 5 p.m. versus undefeated Toledo (6-0), in their first of three weekend matches at the Louisville Tournament.

Contact Chris McNair at cjmcnair@liberty.edu.

 

 


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