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Scripko Stars in Sixth Straight Victory

September 6, 2008
|  Fairfax, Va.
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Nicki Scripko bounced back from illness to notch a match-high and season-high 18 kills on Saturday.

Nicki Scripko bounced back from illness to notch a match-high and season-high 18 kills on Saturday.

Liberty sophomore Nicki Scripko was feeling a bit under the weather during this weekend's Patriot Invitational in Fairfax, Va., but Rutgers never knew it. She tallied a season-high 18 kills in reserve duty Saturday afternoon, helping the Lady Flames win their sixth straight match to open the season, 3-1 (24-26, 25-13, 25-16, 25-14) over the Scarlet Knights.

Scripko (OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) did not enter the match until the very end of the opening set, yet recorded the most kills by a Lady Flame this season, hit .500 and also finished with a match-high three aces and nine digs. Her efforts enabled Liberty to complete its second consecutive undefeated tournament. The Lady Flames, now 6-0 to open the 2008 season, also won all three matches at last weekend's VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational. Rutgers falls to 1-5 with the setback.

Both teams were efficient offensively during a tightly-contested opening set. The Scarlet Knights hit .432 as a team and Liberty hit .367 during a set which featured nine ties. The Lady Flames fought off three set points, as Ashley Webber (Sr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.), Jessica Nelson (R-Sr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) and Scripko notched consecutive kills. Scripko's spike knotted the set at 24-24. Rutgers' Kyra Thompson then sealed her team's 26-24 triumph with back-to-back kills of her own.

Thompson and Caitlin Saxton each notched six kills during set one, pacing all players. Meanwhile, Brittany Pacella (R-Jr., RS, Reading, Pa.) got off to a hot start for the Lady Flames, hitting .667 with a team-high five kills.

Scripko started the second set with a kill, setting the tone for the remainder of the stanza. The reigning Big South Freshman of the Year posted seven kills during Liberty's 25-13 victory, which evened the match at one set apiece. Pacella turned all four of her attempts into kills during the set, including one on the final point. Rutgers reserve Lauren Voss matched Pacella's stat line for the stanza, also hitting 1.000 with four kills.

Pacella helped the Lady Flames gain some breathing room during the middle part of set three. With her team leading 10-8, the redshirt junior provided a block and then consecutive kills, boosting Liberty's edge to five points. The Lady Flames went on to claim a 25-16 decision, sparked by five more Pacella kills.

A service ace by Caitlin Saxton cut Liberty's lead to 14-12 in the fourth and final set. The Lady Flames then closed out a 25-14 triumph on an 11-2 run. Scripko contributed two kills and an ace to the surge, part of her six-kill, four-dig stanza. Nelson added four kills during the set, equaling the Scarlet Knights' team total for the set.

For the second match in a row, Pacella established a career high for kills, with 14. She hit .423 with eight digs and four blocks. Nelson joined Scripko and Pacella in double figures in the kill column, with 10. The redshirt senior reached double figures in all three Patriot Invitational contests.

Continuing a recent trend, Webber and freshman Kelly Haseman (DS/L, Three Rivers, Mich.) headed up the Liberty defensive efforts. Webber totaled a match-high six blocks, while Haseman led all players with 16 digs. Haseman also served for two of Liberty's eight aces on the afternoon.

Lady Flames setter Kallie Corbin (Jr., Beaverton, Ore.) ended the contest with 48 assists and eight digs. She also helped Liberty hit over .300 for the third straight match, as the Lady Flames finished the contest with a .363 attack percentage.

Thompson was Rutgers' most consistent performer, leading the Scarlet Knights in both kills (10) and digs (9). Hannah Curtis added seven kills and a team-best five blocks.

Liberty will continue its lengthy season-opening road trip Tuesday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames head to James Madison. Liberty will seek to end the Dukes' four-match winning streak in the teams' head-to-head series.