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Evansville Defeats Liberty, 3-1, to Claim Liberty Invitational Title; Corbin Voted Tournament MVP
Liberty, Evansville and Duquesne all finished the season-opening tournament with 2-1 records, but Evansville was awarded the championship after tiebreakers were instituted. The Lady Flames came in second and Duquesne third.
Liberty sophomore setter Kallie Corbin (Beaverton, Ore.) was voted tournament MVP, while Lady Flame freshman Karyl Bacon (OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) earned a spot on the all-tournament team, after a stellar beginning to her collegiate career.
Each of the tournament's six matches was won by the team which captured the opening game. So, Evansville gained an advantage by jumping out to a sizable early advantage against the Lady Flames in the match's first game. A 10-2 run, which included two of Emily Wandersee's team-high 16 kills, put the Purple Aces in front by an 18-8 margin.
Liberty battled back and tied the score at 22 apiece after three-straight aces by Chelaine McCarty (So., MB, Houston, Ala.) placed an exclamation mark on a 14-4 surge. Evansville quickly regained control, however, posting five of the next six points. The Purple Aces, who had Wandersee and Danielle Diehl combined for 11 kills in the game, came away with a 30-27 victory in game one.
The Lady Flames jumped out to a quick lead of their own in the next game, notching seven of the first eight points. The game-opening run featured a trio of kills by Jessica Nelson (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan). Evansville never seriously threatened, and Liberty went on to claim a 30-20 decision.
The Lady Flames' comfortable game two win came courtesy of an effective offensive attack. Liberty hit .475, led by Nelson and Nicki Scripko (Fr., OH, Fayetteville, N.C.). Nelson totaled a team-high six kills in the game, while Scripko recorded kills on all five of her swings, for a 1.000 attack percentage.
With the match even at one game apiece, the pivotal third game turned into the most competitive one of the evening. The score was tied 19 times and the lead changed hands on nine other occasions. McCarty made some clutch plays for coach Shane Pinder's squad in the waning moments. The transfer from Auburn kick-started a 3-0 burst, which put Liberty on top, 28-25, with a kill. Another McCarty kill, this one hugging the line, gave Liberty a pair of game points at 29-27.
Ginta Gabruseva, voted to the all-tournament team, then played some of her best points of the weekend. She came up with three kills in a game-ending, 4-0 run, including one for the winning point of Evansville's 31-29 nailbiter. Blocking proved to be key to the Purple Aces' success in game three. Most of the team stats came out even, but Evansville totaled six blocks to Liberty's one in the stanza, enabling the visitors to take a 2-1 lead.
Carrying the match's momentum after their late run to pull out the third game, the Purple Aces claimed an early, 5-1 lead in game four. Liberty fought back to cut the deficit to 14-13 on back-to-back kills by Bacon. The Lady Flames never tied the score, though, and Evansville sealed a 3-1 match win with a 30-21 game four triumph.
As in Liberty's victory over Duquesne Saturday morning, Bacon, Nelson and Scripko all ended with double-doubles. Bacon summed 17 kills and a match-high 29 digs, Nelson complimented her match-best 18 kills with 20 digs and Scripko finished with 12 kills, 14 digs and a match-high .375 attack percentage.
Corbin cemented her MVP award with a career-high 57 assists, 17 digs and five kills. McCarty chipped in with 11 kills, nine digs, three aces and three blocks. Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., DS/L, Huntington Beach, Calif.) also reached double-figures in the dig category, tallying 12.
Wandersee and Diehl were the Purple Aces' big blockers, evenly splitting 12 blocks. Wandersee completed a double-double, notching 12 digs to go with her 16 kills. Julie Walroth, also voted to the all-tournament team, came up with 28 digs.
Evansville swept Howard, 3-0 (30-10, 30-15, 30-19) and Duquesne also defeated Howard, 3-0 (30-22, 30-14, 30-18), in the day's middle pair of matches.
Liberty will remain within the Commonwealth for its next three matches, as the Lady Flames will head to Richmond this coming weekend for the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational. Liberty will tangle with ACC foe Maryland in its first of three matches at the event, Friday at 4:30 p.m.
Final Tournament Standings:
1) Evansville (2-1)
2) Liberty (2-1)
3) Duquesne (2-1)
4) Howard (0-3)
Kallie Corbin, Liberty (MVP)
Jenni Gross, Duquesne
Nicole Wright, Duquesne
Ginta Gabruseva, Evansville
Julie Walroth, Evansville
Elyssa Lee, Howard
Karyl Bacon, Liberty