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Liberty Holds Off Radford For Big South Win
Liberty University won its Big South Conference volleyball opener, 3-2 against Radford Friday night at the Donald N. Dedmon Center. Liberty won 32-30, 19-30, 30-22, 24-30, 15-9 in five tightly contested games to improve to 5-9 overall and 1-0 in the Big South. The Highlanders fall to 2-7 overall and 0-1 in the Big South.
Liberty placed four players in double-figure kills, led by junior Autum Poorman's (Mingoville, Pa.) 18. Freshman Kendall Nichols (Hoover, Ala.) had a double-double for the Lady Flames with 10 kills and 18 digs. Freshman Alysson Sanders (Bear, Del.) collected 12 kills and junior Rachel Denton (Burnet, Texas) had 10 kills.
RU Senior Elizabeth Aldredge (Richmond, Va.) netted a career-high 26 kills. Fellow senior Divona Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.) had a career-high 12 total blocks and sophomore Josie Hanners (Richmond, Va.) had a career-high 52 assists for the Highs.
The Lady Flames springboarded to a 4-0 lead to start game one, but RU responded with a flurry and tied the game at seven on a block by junior Lindsey Wheeler (Houston, Texas) and Cox. The teams traded points throughout the remainder of the match until back-to-back kills by Poorman and sophomore Jessica Nelson (Tokyo, Japan) gave the Lady Flames a 32-30 win. The Highlanders took the early lead in game two and kept Liberty from mounting an offensive attack. A lead that had been as high as six was pushed to 10 at 26-16 on a kill by Aldredge. A game-ending kill by junior Jennifer Fritz (Virginia Beach, Va.) gave RU an 11-point lead, the final margin at 30-19.
The teams again played an even game three, but two kills by Sanders and four Radford attack errors gave Liberty the run it needed to take a 2-1 lead. RU established itself early in game four, posting a 5-1 lead on a block from Aldredge and freshman Lindsey Poole (Blountville, Tenn.). The lead would get as high as nine before Radford secured the 30-24 win on an Aldredge kill.
The deciding game five was the only game Liberty was able to build a decisive lead. The Lady Flames got off to a 4-2 start and pushed the lead to 9-5 on a kill by Poorman. RU rallied to within one on a service ace by Aldredge. Liberty responded by winning six of the final seven points to secure the match.
"It was a big conference win on the road against a Radford team that played well, but we had a couple key players step up in Alysson (Sanders) and Autum (Poorman)," explained head coach Shane Pinder. "It was a tough match but the girls pulled one out on the road in a tough environment."
Radford's three seniors combined for 50 of the Highlanders' 63 kills. Aldredge career-high 26 led all players and gave her a hitting percentage of .340. Cox collected 10 kills and hit a team-leading .471 to pace RU. Fellow senior Christine German (Virginia Beach, Va.) rounded out the trio's offensive attack with 14 kills, hitting .200. Defensively junior Rachel Newton (Anderson, S.C.) had a team-high 17 digs. Hanners also tallied 10 digs.
Denton hit .714 to lead the Lady Flames. Sophomore Lara Bartolomeo (Huntington Beach, Calif.) had a match-high 53 assists. Poorman also had seven total blocks to pace Liberty.
The Lady Flames return to action next Friday as they host Big South foe High Point at 7:00 pm. in the Vines Center to kick-off Homecoming Weekend.