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Liberty Volleyball Comes Back to Defeat George Washington, 3-2

September 1, 2007
|  Richmond, Va.
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Alysson Sanders came off the bench to propel Liberty to a come-from-behind victory over George Washington, totaling five kills and seven digs during the third and fourth games.

Alysson Sanders came off the bench to propel Liberty to a come-from-behind victory over George Washington, totaling five kills and seven digs during the third and fourth games.

Trailing two games to one, Saturday morning against George Washington at the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational, Liberty Head Volleyball Coach Shane Pinder inserted a pair of veterans into his youthful lineup. Senior Mary Alice Pike and redshirt junior Alysson Sanders came into the match and sparked the Lady Flames to a 3-2, come-from-behind victory at the Alltel Pavilion.

Liberty snapped a two-match losing streak after playing a five-game match for the second-consecutive time at VCU. The Lady Flames are 3-2, and two of their wins have come against Atlantic 10 Conference opponents. Liberty defeated Duquesne on Aug. 25 at the Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi.

George Washington, which had defeated host VCU Friday afternoon in the opening game of the tournament, is now 3-2. The Colonials had won five of six previous meetings with Liberty, with the Lady Flames' lone win in the series coming in 1977, the school's second-ever volleyball season.

For the third-straight match, Liberty's opponent owned the advantage in blocks. Five of George Washington's 11 total blocks came in game one, which the Colonials trailed only once. Liberty's brief advantage in the opening stanza came at 11-10, on a Chelaine McCarty (So., MB, Houston, Ala.) kill.

The Colonials then reeled off 10 of the next 14 points to reclaim control of the game. Liberty tied the score at 22, 23, 24 and 25, but one of Janie Brown's match-best 24 kills gave George Washington the lead for good in a 30-26 decision.

The second game was tight through the early stages, before momentum shifted in the Lady Flames' favor. A powerful kill by Ashley Webber (Jr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) highlighted a 5-0 Liberty burst, midway through the game. Liberty was never seriously threatened again, and evened the match with a 30-25, game two victory.

George Washington had its way in the third game from the outset. The Colonials quickly ran out to an 11-4 advantage and never looked back. Four more George Washington blocks contributed to a -.043 Liberty attack percentage in the game. Pike (RS, Durham, N.C.) and Alysson Sanders (OH, Bear, Del.) entered the contest late in George Washington's 30-16 victory, but their real impact was not felt until game four.

Consecutive kills by Sanders and Pike, both making the most of their first extended playing time of the young season, put Liberty up, 7-5 in the fourth game. The Lady Flames did not trail the rest of the way, as the duo evenly split eight of Liberty's 16 kills. Pike recorded kills on all four of her swings. Meanwhile, Sanders added four kills and five digs for Liberty, which leveled the match with a 30-23 victory.

The Lady Flames, who hit .342 during game four, were even more efficient in the fifth and deciding game. Liberty hit .522 in its 15-6, game five triumph. An 8-0 run on Jessica Nelson's (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) serve keyed the victory. Karyl Bacon (Fr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.), quiet for much of the morning, spearheaded the run with a trio of kills. Back-to-back kills by Nelson sealed the deal, enabling Liberty to pick up its third non-conference win of the season. The Lady Flames won just two non-conference tilts in 2006.

As has become the norm for Liberty in 2007, the Lady Flames utilized a balanced offensive attack. McCarty led the way against George Washington, hitting .448 and posting 14 kills, her highest total since transferring from Auburn. Bacon (12 kills, 16 digs) and Nelson (10 kills, 16 digs) both recorded double-doubles.

Meanwhile, Kallie Corbin (So., S, Beaverton, Ore.) was not far off her first triple-double of the year. She tallied seven kills, 55 assists and 19 digs. Other category leaders for Pinder's squad included Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.), whose 25 digs were a match-high and a season-best, and Webber, who assisted on five of the Lady Flames' eight blocks.

Pike's final totals included eight kills and a sparkling, .500 attack percentage. Sanders chipped in with five kills and seven digs.

Brown had 18 digs to complement her 24 kills for the Colonials. Setter Jess Buche contributed 50 assists, and Erica Williams ended with five blocks.

Liberty will return to action at 2 p.m., when the Lady Flames meet host VCU in their last of three matches at the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational.