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Liberty Posts 3-0 Sweep of Gardner-Webb on Senior Day
Liberty raced to a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 26-24) sweep over the visiting Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldogs to wrap up the regular-season schedule on Saturday at the Vines Center.
Liberty (23-9, 10-4 Big South) halted its four-match winless streak, finishing third in the Big South standings. The Lady Flames enter the Big South Volleyball Championship following a win for the 18th straight season. Gardner-Webb fell to 12-20, 5-9 in Big South play with its fifth loss in a row.
For the match, Liberty outhit Gardner-Webb, .158-.126. The hosts held a 62-49 edge in digs, while the Runnin' Bulldogs led, 10-5 in blocks and 5-4 in aces.
The Lady Flames honored their seniors, Melissa Racz and Gabrielle Shipe, with a pre-match Senior Day ceremony. Shipe went on to collect 18 digs, and with 1,704 digs became the third player in program history with 1,700 career digs. Racz scored four kills and added two blocks.
Liberty junior Jade Vorster scored a match-high 14 kills while adding three blocks. Junior Caila Stapleton contributed a match-high 30 assists to go with six kills and seven digs. Freshman Gabrielle Vess recorded eight kills, while junior Haley Jeffocat collected 13 digs and classmate Rachel Smoltz had 11 digs.
Redshirt-senior Tyler Cockrell led the guests with nine kills and a match-high five blocks. Junior Anna Pashkova collected a match-high 22 digs, while senior Heather Feldman totaled 28 assists and four blocks. Freshman Kaelyn Dyson registered four blocks.
Set one went back and forth, with 13 ties and five lead changes. The Runnin' Bulldogs led, 19-17, after a kill from Montour. Stapleton then scored a kill, sparking a 3-0 Liberty run. After Sydney Marshall scored a set-tying kill, three Gardner-Webb errors ensued, making it 23-20, Liberty. The Lady Flames clinched the set, 25-21, getting a kill from Vess.
Gardner-Webb held a .098-.083 edge in hitting percentage during the first set. Vorster led all players with five kills, while Pashkova collected 10 digs for the guests.
Liberty led the middle session from 2-1 on, scoring a 25-19 victory to take the match lead, 2-0. With the Lady Flames leading, 21-18, Stapleton scored back-to-back kills and Jeffcoat added an ace. A Runnin' Bulldog error ended the set, 25-19.
The hosts outhit Gardner-Webb, .200-.098, during set two, as Vorster hit .667 with four kills.
The Lady Flames held a 24-21 lead in the third session, after a kill from Vorster. Cockrell and Montour scored kills to tie the score at 24-all. Racz, a senior, then contributed to Liberty's last two points, with a kill and a block assist, helping the Lady Flames close out the set and match, 26-24.
Liberty hit .162 in set three, while Gardner-Webb hit .158. The Runnin' Bulldogs recorded four blocks. Vorster scored a set-best five kills for the hosts.
With the 2014 Big South Conference regular-season schedule at its conclusion, official seeding for the 2014 Big South Volleyball Championship will be released later this evening. This year's Big South Volleyball Championship will be hosted by Coastal Carolina in Conway, S.C., Nov. 20-23, with the final to be aired live on ESPN3.