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Homestanding Villanova Snaps Liberty's Winning Streak
Villanova's Alona Cherkez and Kacy Sellers combined for 52 kills, Friday evening against Liberty at the Villanova Classic, enabling the Wildcats to come from behind to claim a 3-1 (20-30, 30-26, 30-22, 30-24) decision. The setback at Nevin Fieldhouse snapped a season-best three-match winning streak for the Lady Flames.
Host Villanova, the only team to win both of its Friday matches at the tournament, claimed its fourth-straight victory and sixth triumph in its last seven outings. The Wildcats are now 7-3 on the year.
Meanwhile, the Lady Flames saw their longest winning skein since 2004 halted at three. Liberty fell to 6-5 overall, despite tying a school rally-scoring record for blocks in a match with 18. Sophomore Chelaine McCarty (MB, Houston, Ala.) provided a career-high 10 (one solo, nine assists) of the team's blocks, representing the most by a Liberty player since 2003.
Liberty, which had put together an impressive, 3-0 win over Princeton earlier in the day, was at top form again during its opening game against Villanova. One of Jessica Nelson's (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) three kills in the stanza put the Lady Flames on top, 2-1, and the visitors did not trail again. McCarty closed out the convincing, 30-20 triumph with a kill.
The Lady Flames really were firing on all cylinders in the opening game, as three players [Nelson, Alysson Sanders (R-Jr., OH, Bear, Del.) and Ashley Webber (Jr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.)] evenly split nine kills, Liberty served up three aces and the Lady Flames totaled four blocks. Villanova managed only a .048 attack percentage in game one.
Liberty led by as many as four points (9-5) during the early stages of the second game, after a McCarty service ace. Cherkez and Sellers then started their offensive onslaught. The duo had three kills during an ensuing 7-1 run, which lifted the home team into the lead for good. In fact, Liberty did not lead again the rest of the evening.
Cherkez totaled 10 kills during game two, and Sellers added seven kills and a .750 attack percentage. Nicki Scripko (Fr., OH/RS, Fayetteville, N.C.) also hit .750 and tallied six kills in her attempt to keep Liberty within striking distance, but Villanova prevailed, 30-26.
With the match tied at one game apiece, Villanova quickly put Liberty on its heels in game three, running off the first four points of the stanza. The Wildcats never looked back, getting 10 more kills from Cherkez and eight from Sellers. Game three ended up a 30-22 decision for Villanova.
Again in the fourth game, Villanova reeled off four-consecutive points to open up play, the first three of which were Cherkez kills. The Wildcats were on top, 19-7, before Liberty mounted a furious rally in its effort to push the match to five games.
A 16-6 surge, including a six-point serving run by Sanders, cut the deficit to 25-23. McCarty and Nelson posted combined blocks on three-straight points during the extended scoring run. In the end, though, Villanova regrouped and hung on for a 30-24 win.
In addition to McCarty's stellar performance at the net for Liberty, Scripko provided one of her best all-around matches of the season. The freshman tallied a double-double, with 11 kills and 14 digs, hit a team-high .304, served for a pair of aces and was involved in five blocks.
Nelson chipped in with 11 kills, nine digs and a career-high seven blocks. Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) paced the Lady Flames with 18 digs.
Cherkez ended up with 27 kills and Sellers had 25 kills with a .455 hitting percentage. Emily Brown added a match-best 28 digs for the victorious Wildcats.
The Lady Flames will play a pair of matches during Saturday's Villanova Classic action. Liberty will match up with William & Mary at 12:30 p.m., before closing tournament play against Binghamton at 5:30 p.m.