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McCarty Leads Liberty to 12th-Consecutive Win
With the triumph, Liberty matches its all-time longest winning streak and improves to 22-7 overall. The Lady Flames are now tied atop the Big South standings with Winthrop, as the squads sport matching 10-1 conference records, with one match remaining. Meanwhile, UNC Asheville, which had won three of its last four matches, slips to 9-21 overall and 2-10 in conference action.
For the second-straight contest, Liberty got off to a bit of a slow start. A Heather Burns kill and a Raquel Miotto ace got the home team off to a 2-0 lead to open the match. The Bulldogs then extended the lead to four points on four occasions, the last of which came at 15-11.
The UNC Asheville advantage stood at 23-21, after a kill by Alysha Greer. Consecutive kills by Nicki Scripko (Fr., RS/OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) initiated an ensuing 4-1 burst, which allowed the Lady Flames to take a 25-24 edge. Liberty never trailed again during the opening game, as two late kills by McCarty (Houston, Ala.) helped the Lady Flames wrap up a 30-27 decision.
Ashley Wrightenberry had six kills and hit .417 during game one for UNC Asheville, but the Bulldogs were undone by 10 attack errors and four service errors. Jessica Nelson (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) sparked the Liberty attack with five kills, while Lara Bartolomeo (Sr., L/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) came up with eight of the Lady Flames' 25 digs.
Liberty took control of game two early on, when Karyl Bacon (Fr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) served for five-consecutive points, bumping the Lady Flames' one-point edge up to an 11-5 lead. Bacon posted an ace and a kill during the run, providing Liberty control of the game for good. The Lady Flames took a 2-0 lead into the intermission after closing out a 30-21 victory.
After hitting .250 during the opening stanza, Liberty posted a .452 attack percentage during game two. McCarty contributed a game-high six kills and hit .556. Fellow middle blocker Ashley Webber (Jr., Lakeside Calif.) hit 1.000, coming up with kills on all three of her swings.
UNC Asheville freshman Kelsey Benorden put down a kill on the opening point of game three, giving her team its only advantage of the stanza. After a Webber kill evened the score and gave Liberty a side out, Kallie Corbin (So., Beaverton, Ore.) stepped up for a decisive serving run. The reigning CVU.com National Player of the Week served for six-consecutive points, including a pair of aces, putting Liberty on top by a 7-1 margin.
The Lady Flames were not threatened the remainder of the afternoon and wrapped up their first win at the Justice Center since 2004, when Nelson's kill made the final count 30-17, Liberty. Five of Liberty's seven aces came in the third game, including a trio by Corbin. McCarty added another six kills and aided in Liberty's .452 team attack percentage.
McCarty's .684 attack percentage consisted of 14 kills and only one error on 19 attempts. Those were the exact numbers the Lady Flames' Jessica Wilson posted at UNC Asheville, on Oct. 5, 2001.
Nelson also reached double figures, coming up with 12 kills for the Lady Flames and recording her highest single-match attack percentage since Sept. 14, .435. Scripko chipped in with nine kills, pushing her season total to 301. She is the first Lady Flame to post 300 kills as a freshman since current assistant coach Jennifer Vaden tallied 444 kills in 2001.
Webber hit .667 with six kills and a match-best five blocks. On the season, the junior now has 105 blocks, one shy of equaling Erin McKeown's school rally-scoring record, established in 2003. Corbin finished with 43 assists, three aces and 11 digs.
Bartolomeo and Bacon also excelled defensively for Liberty, hustling for 15 and 12 digs, respectively. For the match, the Lady Flames outdug the Bulldogs by a 59-41 margin.
Greer and Wrightenberry evenly divided 22 kills to pace UNC Asheville's attack. Benorden ended with a double-double, tallying 10 kills and 14 digs, while Miotto matched her dig total.
Liberty will return to the Vines Center for its final two matches prior to the Big South Championship. The Lady Flames will step out of conference to play North Carolina Central, Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Eagles are 18-12 in their first year of transition from NCAA Division II to Division I.