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Scripko Shines as Lady Flames Post Second-Straight Conference Victory

September 28, 2007
|  High Point, N.C.
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Freshman Nicki Scripko set new career highs for both kills (19) and digs (16) during her first collegiate match in her home state of North Carolina.

Freshman Nicki Scripko set new career highs for both kills (19) and digs (16) during her first collegiate match in her home state of North Carolina.

Liberty freshman outside hitter/right-side hitter Nicki Scripko fashioned the best statistical match of her young career, Friday evening at High Point's Millis Athletic Center, propelling the Lady Flames to a 3-1 (29-31, 30-22, 30-24, 30-27) conference triumph over the Panthers.

Scripko (Fayetteville, N.C.) notched a match-high and career-high 19 kills and added a career-best 16 digs and five blocks, helping Liberty to its second-straight Big South win. The Lady Flames are now 10-6 overall and are part of a three-way tie atop the conference standings. Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop own matching 2-0 loop records.

High Point, which ran off the best non-conference record of any Big South team, now stands at 9-6 overall, but has dropped both of its conference tilts.

Game one was as close as they come, featuring 27 ties and 11 lead changes. Scripko, who started at outside hitter for the first time, came out swinging. She provided six kills, seven digs and a solo block during the opening stanza. High Point was able to get the better of things due to its play at the net, however.

The Panthers recorded five blocks to Liberty's one during the opening stanza. High Point's fifth block, a combined effort by Lindsay Raus and Kristina Taylor, cashed in the team's second game point and wrapped up a 31-29 triumph.

High Point got off to a fast start in the second game as well, posting four-straight points to open up the scoring. The homestanding Panthers held an 11-6 edge, before Liberty ran off seven-consecutive points. Kallie Corbin (So., S, Beaverton, Ore.) served for six of the points, and Jessica Nelson (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) contributed two kills during the surge.

The Panthers never led again during the stanza, although they knotted the score at 20-all on a kill by Ashley Mellott. Liberty then put the game away with nine-straight points. Chelaine McCarty (So., MB, Houston, Ala.) served during the surge, wrapped up by three-consecutive kills off the right hand of Nelson. The Lady Flames' final margin of victory was 30-22.

Liberty recorded its highest attack percentage of the evening during game two, at .289. Ashley Webber (Jr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) hit .500 in the game, Scripko came in at .364 and Nelson hit .312.

High Point went up 2-0 to start out game three. However, the Panthers' final lead of the game came at 3-2. A quick, 3-0 Liberty burst midway through the game gave the visitors the advantage for good, 19-16. Webber and Scripko initiated the run with consecutive kills. An ace by Corbin, one of three Lady Flame aces during the stanza, highlighted a 5-0, game-ending run, which sealed Liberty's 30-24 win.

The Liberty attacking tandem of Nelson and Scripko led the way once again during the fourth game. Nelson came up with a game-high eight kills and the freshman hit .667. The game was tightly contested, though, and a late, 3-0 burst left High Point on top, 25-24.

Coach Shane Pinder's Lady Flames quickly recovered and finished their 30-27 decision by recording six of the match's final eight points. Fittingly, Nelson had two kills during the run, while Scripko provided a block assist and the match-winning kill.

Like Scripko, Nelson ended up with a double-double, compiling 16 kills and 12 digs, along with two of Liberty's four service aces. The redshirt junior leads the Big South with 11 double-doubles on the season.

Liberty also received solid contributions from middle blockers McCarty and Webber, as both hit well over .300. McCarty, the reigning conference player of the week, hit .324 with 13 kills, and Webber added 10 kills, a .324 attack percentage and five block assists.

The Lady Flames continued their stellar defensive play as well, racking up 99 digs. Liberty, ranked No. 8 nationally in the category, received 20 or more digs from Corbin, Karyl Bacon (Fr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) and Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.).

Corbin finished with an even 20 digs, to go along with a match-high 59 assists and three blocks. Meanwhile, Bacon and Bartolomeo evenly split 44 digs. For Bartolomeo, it was her fifth 20-dig match of the season.

Freshman Julie Hershkowitz served as High Point's back-row standout, coming up with a match-best 34 digs. Ashley Johnson hit a team-high .351 with 18 kills and Audie Gonzalez added a double-double (12 kills, 15 digs). However, the Panthers were hampered by the absence of Big South Preseason All-Conference outside hitter Jamie Kaufman, who left the match with an injury early in game three.

The Lady Flames will wrap up their three-match conference-opening road swing at the Winthrop Coliseum, Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. The match will pit Liberty against the five-time defending conference champion Winthrop Eagles (6-9, 2-0 Big South), who have won 56-consecutive contests versus Big South foes.