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CCSU Edges Liberty, 3-2
Liberty battled back after trailing, 2-0, to Central Connecticut State, forcing a fifth set. However, the Blue Devils won the deciding set, 17-15, edging the Lady Flames, 3-2 (25-21, 28-26, 21-25, 28-26, 17-15) to open the Brown Invitational on Friday.
CCSU improves its season record to 1-6 with the win, while the Lady Flames fall to 6-4 overall, including 1-2 in five-set matches.
The Lady Flames set a season high with 77 kills, hitting .300, compared to 70 kills at .261 for the Blue Devils. Liberty led, 8-5, in aces and 64-54 in digs, while CCSU held a 12-8 edge in blocks.
Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas sent down a career-high 29 kills at a .600 pace for the Lady Flames. Douglas' 29 kills were the most by a Lady Flame since Rachel Harnack recorded 40 kills at Coastal Carolina, Nov. 10, 2001. Junior Caila Stapleton dished out a career-high 63 assists, adding nine digs and four blocks. Stapleton's 63 assists were the most by a Lady Flame since Courtney Boggs had 64 assists at UNC Asheville, Nov. 7, 2008.
Liberty senior Gabrielle Shipe collected a match-high 21 digs to go with two aces. Shipe is now ranked eighth in program history with 1,329 career digs. Freshman Hannah Weidner recorded 12 kills, while junior Jade Vorster recorded nine kills and classmate Haley Jeffcoat added eight kills. Freshman Sirena Vorster posted a team-high five blocks along with two aces. Sophomore Kate Corson posted career highs with 10 digs and three aces.
CCSU junior Heather Trueman led four Blue Devils in double figures with 21 kills, along with 15 digs. Freshman Nicole Celarek had 16 kills and three aces, while senior Rachel Dunlap posted 14 kills. Sophomore Brooke Schwab recorded 11 kills and a match-high nine blocks, while junior Makenna Lommori dished out 57 assists. Sophomore Rachel Fish totaled 19 digs.
Set one featured significant shifts in momentum. Douglas capped an 11-3 Liberty rally with her eighth kill of the set to make it 18-13, Liberty. The Blue Devils then staged an 8-0 rally to regain the advantage, 21-18. Liberty drew to within one, 21-20, after a block by Maribeth Kern and Sirena Vorster. CCSU then surged to the finish, as a Lommori kill sealed the 25-21 victory. In total, the Blue Devils outscored Liberty, 12-3, down the stretch.
Liberty held a slight, .205-.200 edge in attack percentage during the opening set. Douglas led all players with eight kills on 11 attempts, while Trueman had five kills for the Blue Devils.
The Blue Devils outlasted Liberty, 28-26, during set two. Liberty fought off a set-point try at 24-23. A kill from Jade Vorster and a Weidner-Sirena Vorster block gave the Lady Flames set point, 25-24. CCSU scored the next two points, and converted on their third set-point try, getting an ace from Celarek to clinch the set, 28-26.
The Lady Flames hit .406 in the second session, compared to .318 for CCSU. Douglas added seven kills, while Schwab scored six kills for the Blue Devils.
Liberty extended the match with a hard-fought, 28-26 set-three victory during which the Lady Flames fought off three match-point attempts. Weidner tied the set, 24-24, with a kill, and Celarek scored on Liberty's next two serves. A Stapleton kill made it 26-26, and Stapleton combined with Sirena Vorster on a block before Douglas scored the set-clinching kill.
During set three, Liberty outhit CCSU, .300 to .250. Weidner led the Lady Flames with five kills, while the Blue Devils' Dunlap had six kills.
Liberty led set four from 5-3 on, forcing a fifth set to be played by posting a 25-21 victory. The Lady Flames hit .243 during the fourth stanza, while CCSU hit .194. Liberty served up three service aces, with Corson recording two of them. The Blue Devils recorded five blocks during set four, with Schwab assisting on four.
The Blue Devils got off to a 3-0 lead, and held an 8-5 advantage at the fifth-set changeover. With Liberty trailing, 10-6, Jeffcoat sent down back-to-back kills. After a Celarek ace made it 12-8, CCSU, Douglas scored a pair of kills during a 4-0 Liberty rally as the Lady Flames tied it, 12-12. The Blue Devils then scored on Liberty's next two serves. Douglas and Weidner fought off successive match point tries, but CCSU won set five, 17-15, on a Fish service ace.
Liberty outhit CCSU, .409 to .375, during set five, with Douglas scoring six kills for the Lady Flames.
The Lady Flames will next face the host Brown Bears tonight at 7:30 p.m., to conclude the first day of the Brown Invitational.