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Lady Flames Defeat Coastal Carolina for Seventh-Straight 3-0 Win
Liberty is now 17-7 overall and 7-1 in conference action, and is now one-half game behind Winthrop atop the Big South standings. Also, it is believed 1979 is the last time Liberty swept seven-consecutive matches, although six of those seven wins were 2-0 decisions.
With the loss, Coastal Carolina dips to 12-13 overall, 4-4 in the Big South. The Chanticleers fell despite playing Liberty tighter than a first look at the final scores might indicate. The Lady Flames only recorded one more kill (49-48) than the home team and outhit the Lady Chanticleers by a slim, .261-.239 margin.
The host Lady Chanticleers jumped out to the lead from the outset of game one, as Jill Nyhof put down kills to end each of the match's first two rallies. The Coastal Carolina advantage reached four, 17-13, after setter Meagan Tracey recorded a kill, prompting a timeout by Liberty head coach Shane Pinder.
The Lady Flames battled back and took their initial lead of the afternoon, 23-22, when a Nicki Scripko (Fr., RS/OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) kill ended an extended rally. The 6-2 Liberty surge included two kills and a block assist by Scripko.
Liberty then ended the first game by scoring five of the final seven points, after Coastal Carolina had reclaimed a 27-26 edge. The run started on a spectacular individual effort by setter Kallie Corbin (So., Beaverton, Ore.).
Corbin took an errant pass and flicked it back over her head, through an unsuspecting Lady Chanticleer defense to knot the score. Coastal Carolina fought off two game points, but Liberty sealed a 31-29 decision on a Karyl Bacon (Fr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) kill.
The first game featured some high-quality play by both teams, as Liberty hit .304 as a team and Coastal Carolina followed closely behind at .291. Scripko paced the Lady Flames with five kills, while Nyhof put down nine kills for the home team. Corbin came up with seven digs for Liberty, helping the Lady Flames total 28 digs in the stanza.
Jessica Nelson (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) got things started for Liberty with a kill on the opening point of game two. Coastal Carolina came right back and held the lead for most of the stanza, though. The Lady Chanticleers owned a three-point edge, 16-13, after taking advantage of consecutive attack errors by the Lady Flames.
Alysson Sanders (R-Jr., OH, Bear, Del.) made an impact for Liberty during the latter half of game two. Her kill enabled Liberty to take its first lead since 3-2 at 22-21. Coastal Carolina posted a quick 23-22 advantage, before an 8-1, game-ending surge by the Lady Flames. Sanders served for four points of the burst, including an ace, helping Liberty wrap up a 30-24 victory.
The Lady Flames' game two standouts included Chelaine McCarty (So., MB, Houston, Ala.), who hit .571 with four kills and a solo block, and Bacon, who notched six of Liberty's 20 digs. The Lady Chanticleers were hurt by four service errors during the stanza.
Coastal Carolina broke up a 9-9 deadlock with a 5-1 run near the middle of the third game. The Lady Chanticleers owned a 14-10 edge when Megan Bickford provided a kill. Liberty answered with an 11-2 burst of its own. Back-to-back aces by Nelson highlighted the run and caused Coastal Carolina coach Kristen Bauer to call a timeout, with her team now trailing by an 18-16 margin. By the time the Liberty surge was halted, the Lady Flames owned a 21-16 lead.
The host Lady Chanticleers did not go down quietly. After five-straight points, the count was again evened at 22 apiece. Liberty quickly regrouped, however. The Lady Flames closed each of the next seven rallies with a kill, going up by 29-22 and earning a series of match points. It turns out the Lady Flames needed only two of the match points, as McCarty recorded a kill to close out a 30-23 triumph.
Corbin made a number of key plays for the Lady Flames during the decisive third game, contributing four kills on an .800 hitting percentage, eight assists and a team-high five digs. Bickford, a freshman middle blocker, had seven kills and hit .667 for the Lady Chanticleers in a losing effort.
Although Bickford played well for Coastal Carolina, it was the play of Liberty's middle blocker tandem of McCarty and Ashley Webber (Jr., Lakeside, Calif.), which put the Lady Flames over the top. McCarty led the Lady Flames with 12 kills and hit .423. Meanwhile, Webber hit at a .571 clip and put down eight kills, to go along with a team-best three blocks.
Scripko recorded her second double-double of the weekend swing, adding 10 kills and a dozen digs for Liberty. Corbin hit .400 from the setter spot and had six kills, 37 assists and a team-leading 15 digs.
Bacon and Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) chipped in with 12 and 11 digs, respectively, helping Liberty average 22 digs per game on the afternoon. Nelson served for three of the Lady Flames' five aces.
Coastal Carolina put three players in double figures in the kill category, headed by Bickford's 14 kills. Nyhof slowed down a bit after her torrid beginning, but still compiled 13 kills, while Chelsy Kimes notched 11 kills and hit a team-high .393. Libero Brett Starbuck led all players with her 20 digs.
Liberty will return to the Vines Center for a trio of matches next week, beginning with a non-conference contest against Norfolk State. The Lady Flames and Spartans will meet for the first time in 10 seasons, Tuesday at 7 p.m.