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Radford Edges Liberty in Conference Opener, 3-0
The Radford volleyball team posted a 3-0 (28-26, 26-24, 25-19) sweep over the visiting Liberty Lady Flames, Friday at the Dedmon Center in both teams' conference opener.
The Highlanders (11-6, 1-0 Big South) defeated the Lady Flames for the first time since Nov. 6, 2001, a span of 24 matches. Liberty falls to 1-12 (0-1 Big South) on the campaign, sustaining its ninth straight setback. The Lady Flames had won their last eight Big South openers in a row entering Friday night's match.
For the match, Radford hit .262, compared to .158 for the Lady Flames, while leading in aces, 6-2, and in blocks, 9-8. The Lady Flames held a 51-50 edge in digs.
Liberty sophomore Haley Jeffcoat led the Lady Flames with a career-high 13 kills, while senior Lillie Happel registered a double-double with 12 kills and a season-high 17 digs. Senior Jade Craycraft checked in with 28 assists, 13 digs and three blocks, and redshirt senior Kendle Rollins posted five block assists.
Junior Rachel Wiechecki recorded 14 kills and 20 digs for Radford, while junior Emma Deininger and sophomore Cheyanne James had 10 kills each. Deininger tallied four blocks, and James added three aces. Junior Jena Braden dished out a match-high 29 assists.
Set one went back and forth, featuring 18 ties and six lead changes. The Lady Flames led by two, 19-17, after Craycraft's fourth kill of the set. Radford then scored the next three points, capped by a kill from James. Liberty gained its last lead of the set, 22-21, when Happel scored a kill. Jordan Watson gave Radford set point, 24-23, with a kill. Following six rally points, the Highlanders sealed the set on a Deininger-Watson block, 28-26.
Radford outhit Liberty in the opening set, .400-.273. Wiechecki and James both had six kills, while Jeffcoat led Liberty with six kills.
The Lady Flames led for a majority of set two, utilizing strong net defense. Liberty took a 23-18 lead on a block by Rollins and Johnson, the Lady Flames' fifth block of the set. Kills by Wiechecki and Short keyed a 3-0 Radford run, before Jeffcoat made it 24-21 with a kill. The Highlanders then ended the second set on a 5-0 run that included three blocks from Short, and the hosts took a 2-0 lead into intermission.
Radford held a slight .146-.136 edge in hitting percentage in set two. Happel recorded six kills for the Lady Flames, while Rollins posted four block assists. Wiechecki had four kills for Radford.
The Highlanders built a 17-12 lead during set three, before Liberty went on a 4-1 rally, drawing to within 18-16 on a kill by Jeffcoat. Radford later staged a three-point surge, with a James-Deininger block making it 22-17. Nzea McQuitery then scored a kill, but the Highlanders finished the sweep, winning 25-19.
During the final set, Radford outhit Liberty, .265-.031 while also recording three aces. Radford's Wiechecki and Liberty's Jeffcoat both sent down four kills in set three.
The Lady Flames step outside of conference play for the final time during the regular season, competing at William & Mary on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Following Tuesday's match, Liberty will return to the Vines Center to host Gardner-Webb and UNC Asheville on the weekend.