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Lady Flames Down James Madison, 3-1
Liberty overcame a 1-0 deficit on Tuesday, winning the final three sets for a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-14) victory over the host James Madison Dukes at Sinclair Gymnasium.
The Lady Flames improve to 3-1 on the season with the win, while the Dukes' record falls to 2-2. JMU now leads the all-time series, 20-12, although Liberty has won four out of the last five meetings.
Liberty outhit James Madison, .299 to .150 on the evening. The Lady Flames led, 8.5 to 7.0 in blocks and 70-64 in digs, while the Dukes held a 7-3 advantage in service aces.
Freshman Hannah Weidner scored a match-high 19 kills, leading four Lady Flames in double figures. Weidner is the first Lady Flame in the rally-scoring era (since 2001) to open her career with four straight double-digit kill matches. Sophomore Nzea McQuitery hit .440 with 13 kills, to go with five blocks. Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas totaled 12 kills, and junior Jade Vorster added 11 kills.
Liberty's Caila Stapleton dished out a team-high 26 assists, adding 11 digs for her first career double-double. Senior Gabrielle Shipe collected 17 digs, while junior Allie Reynolds recorded 10 digs. Freshman Anna Willey totaled 21 assists and three blocks.
Senior Lizzy Briones led JMU with 17 kills, to go with four blocks. Sophomore Janey Goodman contributed 12 kills, while freshman Taylor Austin collected a match-high 20 digs. Junior Meghan Niski had 14 digs, and classmate MacKenzie Kleespies totaled 13 digs and two aces. Sophomore Kate Whitmire tied for the team high with four blocks.
James Madison pulled away late for a 25-21 set-one victory. Weidner drew the Lady Flames to within one, 16-15, with her fifth kill of the set. A 7-3 JMU run ensued, capped by an ace from Kristi Richardson that gave the hosts a 23-18 advantage. Consecutive Lady Flames kills made it 23-20, but the Dukes then held serve, winning 25-21.
Both teams hit for a high average during set one, with JMU hitting .364 and Liberty attacking at a .342 pace. Briones recorded six kills, while teammate Goodman added five. Liberty's Weidner registered six kills.
The Lady Flames outhit JMU, .361 to .297, during the second set, evening the match by winning the frame, 25-23. Briones hit .615 with eight kills for the Dukes, while Weidner scored six kills for the Lady Flames. Liberty broke a 19-19 tie, as three JMU errors helped the Lady Flames take a 22-20 lead. After a Weidner kill, JMU scored twice to tie it at 23-23. Weidner and McQuitery then scored back-to-back kills, giving Liberty the 25-23 win.
Liberty slowed down JMU's attack in set three, as the Dukes hit .000, compared to .244 for the Lady Flames. With Liberty trailing, 20-19, McQuitery sparked a 4-1 run with two kills and a block assist. After a Liberty service error, Douglas and Weidner both tallied a kill, sealing the set, 25-22. Weidner led the Lady Flames with five set-three kills, followed by teammates Vorster and McQuitery with four each.
The Lady Flames took control of the final stanza from the beginning, racing to a 25-14 victory. Liberty attacked at a .243 clip, while James Madison hit -.111. McQuitery tallied four kills during set four, while Willey had 11 assists and two block assists.
The Lady Flames open their 2014 home schedule on Friday at 3 p.m., hosting the Howard Bison at the Vines Center. Liberty will compete in a total of four matches at the Liberty Invitational this weekend, facing Howard, Murray State, USC Upstate and UNCG.