Sep 21, 2010

Flames volleyball dethrones Dukes

by Ryan Carr


The Lady Flames volleyball team advanced to 7-3 Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over in-state rival James Madison University.

The Lady Flames rolled early, capturing the first two sets by scores of 25-16 and 25-15, respectively, before dropping the third set 13-25. Liberty came back and finished off the Dukes in the fourth set, 25-18.

 “We jumped out early and played some of the volleyball we have been playing the last few weeks and got two wins where we pulled away and we just played our game,” head coach Shane Pinder said. 

The Lady Flames were led by freshman Jade Craycraft who had 33 assists and junior Kelly Haseman who posted 30 digs. Senior Karyl Bacon added 19 digs of her own to help the Lady Flames hold off the Dukes. 

“JMU is always good competition. It’s always a dogfight when we play,” Bacon said. “It was good to get another win under our belt ,especially against JMU because they are such a good team.”

After dominating the Dukes in the first two sets the Lady Flames struggled in the third set falling behind quickly, 4-0. 

“In the third set they just outworked us,” Pinder said. 

JMU continued to pull away in the third set and held on to a 25-18 victory to avoid being swept by the Lady Flames. Liberty bounced back in the fourth set and kept it close before starting to pull away slowly. 

Freshman Lillie Happel led the way for the Lady Flames in the fourth set with five kills. With Liberty holding onto a slim 18-17 lead Happel posted two consecutive kills to help the Lady Flames inch away. 

“Lillie, especially in the fourth set, helped us close it out with some big swings, which is awesome for her,” Bacon said. 

“We, little by little in that fourth set, just got back to our rhythm and just started making the plays we can make and doing the things we can do,” Pinder said. “There was tremendous leadership out there from a young group but also from a senior whose had some pretty big numbers the last few weeks, and tonight her numbers dropped off a little bit, but she was still leading out there. That’s the mark of a great team.”

With the win, the Lady Flames picked up the  seventh victory of the season making Pinder second all-time in wins for the program with 111 as of Tuesday’s game. Liberty played its first home game of the season in front of nearly 600 fans after spending the first nine games on the road.

“We had a great turnout. We love our fans. Our support is amazing. It was nice being here for a while in the Vines Center. We have been on the road a lot, and we are going to be on the road again soon,” Bacon said.

The Lady Flames fell to West Virginia Saturday, 3-1, and will begin conference play on Sept. 24 against Gardner Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C. at 7 p.m.

CARR is a sports reporter.


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