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Nelson, Sanders Power Lady Flames Past William & Mary

September 15, 2007
|  Villanova, Pa.
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Jessica Nelson played the best match of her career, statistically, enabling Liberty to come from behind and edge William & Mary in five games.

Jessica Nelson played the best match of her career, statistically, enabling Liberty to come from behind and edge William & Mary in five games.

Liberty outside hitters Jessica Nelson and Alysson Sanders posted 20 kills apiece during Saturday afternoon's match against William & Mary at the Villanova Classic, sparking the Lady Flames to a 3-2 (32-30, 25-30, 25-30, 30-27, 15-10) win at Nevin Fieldhouse.

The Lady Flames, which had not had an athlete record 20 kills in a match since Nelson (R-Jr., Tokyo, Japan) tallied 21 versus UNC Greensboro on Nov. 8, 2005, are now 7-5. Liberty has been victorious in four of its last five matches. Meanwhile, the Tribe dropped to 4-7, despite 30 Erin Skipper kills.

The two squads went back-and-forth through a tightly played opening game. The score was tied 20 different times during the stanza. William & Mary took a 28-26 advantage on a Jillian Brown kill, before the Lady Flames closed out the game with a bang. Liberty roared back for three-consecutive points, the last of which came on a block by Sanders (R-Jr., Bear, Del.) and Chelaine McCarty (So., MB, Houston, Ala.), giving the Lady Flames the first of three game points.

Liberty finally converted on its third opportunity, as Nelson pounded down her eighth kill of the opening game. Nelson nearly recorded a double-double in game one alone, totaling eight kills and eight digs. As a team, the Lady Flames hit .288 in the 32-30 victory.

William & Mary bounced back in game two to score the first five points. Liberty was unable to tie up the score during the entire stanza, and the Tribe evened the match with a 30-25 triumph. Skipper starred for William & Mary, hitting .636 with seven kills.

The Tribe took control of the third game with a 5-2 scoring burst midway through the stanza. Liberty was able to narrow the gap to two points, 25-23, but again fell by a 30-25 count. William & Mary went up, 2-1, after negating Sanders' seven-kill game with five team blocks.

With its collective back up against the wall, Liberty found itself trailing, 24-17, late in the fourth game. The Lady Flames then turned the tide and scored 13 of the game's final 16 points to force a fifth game with a 30-27 triumph. A solo block by setter Kallie Corbin (So., Beaverton, Ore.) closed out the victory. Mary Alice Pike (Sr., RS, Durham, N.C.) played her most effective game of the afternoon, helping to prolong the contest with her four kills and a .300 hitting percentage.

The fifth game was locked up, 7-7, when Liberty ran off three-consecutive points, a burst initiated by a Nelson solo block. The Lady Flames led the rest of the way, concluding the two-hour, 12-minute match with a 15-10 decision. Sanders played a key role in the victory, accumulating a trio of kills and an ace during the final stanza.

Nelson and Sanders became the first Liberty duo to total 20 or more kills in a match since Nelson and Kendall Nichols turned the trick on Oct. 14, 2005 versus UNC Asheville. Nelson complemented her 20 kills with a career-high 33 digs and half of Liberty's six aces. She has found success against the Tribe during her career, as Nelson came up with 17 kills and 24 digs in Liberty's last meeting with the CAA foe.

The 20 kills marked a career-high total for Sanders, returning to form after a preseason injury. McCarty made it three Lady Flames in double figures in the kill category, ending up with 12 kills on the afternoon.

On the back row, the California combination of Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Karyl Bacon (Fr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) ended with 22 and 16 digs, respectively. Corbin also came up with 16 digs, 56 assists and eight kills.

Ashley Webber (Jr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) had a hand in five of Liberty's 11.5 team blocks, while Pike chipped in with a season-best nine kills as the starting right-side hitter.

Tribe setter Cassie Crumal had a match-high 66 assists and was one of six William & Mary netters in double figures in the dig category, finishing with 14 digs. Ginny Bray played a role in eight of William & Mary's dozen team blocks.

Liberty will play its fourth and final match of the Villanova Classic Saturday at 5:30 p.m., when the Lady Flames tangle with Binghamton.