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Lady Flames Fall To Panthers In Big South Home Opener
The Lady Flames claimed victory in the first game, but the visiting Panthers ended up spoiling the opening of Parent's Weekend as High Point walked away with a 3-1 Big South Conference victory (24-30, 30-26, 30-18, 38-36), Friday evening, at the Vines Center.
In the opening game of the match, neither team could gain much of an advantage in the beginning until Liberty (5-10, 1-1 Big South) used two-straight services aces by Jessica Nelson (So., OH/MB, Tokyo, Japan) and an attach error by Sabrina Wahid to open up a three-point lead, 16-13, that the Lady Flames would never relinquish.
Liberty finished the game on an 11-6 run to claim the opening game victory, 30-24, aided by an impressive .444 hitting percentage; however, High Point (9-6, 1-1 Big South) was able to keep the match close thanks in part to six services aces in the game.
The Lady Flames had an opportunity to cruise to a second game victory as Liberty scored nine of the game's first 10 points, but the Panthers clawed their way back into the game by reeling off a 12-4 run, tying the game at 13-13 on a Jamie Kaufman kill.
The Lady Flames answered back by scoring the next three points to momentarily reclaim the lead; however, Liberty committed three-straight attack errors to allow the Panthers to claim the lead for good and never look back en route to a 30-26 to even the overall match at one game apiece. Liberty's hitting percentage dramatically dipped in the second game as Liberty hit just .057 in the game.
The opening of the third game remained close with the two teams trading the first 12 points of the game with a Michelle Feiser kill knotted the game at 6-6, but High Point took control of the game as they followed with a 9-1 run and used a .391 team game hitting percentage to claim a 30-18 victory.
Neither team held a sizeable lead in the fourth and decisive game, but the Panthers took advantage of a service error by Nelson, an attack error by Mary Alice Pike (So., RS, Durham, N.C.) and a kill by Kaufman to open up an 8-4 lead.
High Point maintained a slight lead over most of the match until Lara Bartolomeo (So., S, Huntington Beach, Calif.) recorded a kill to knot the game at 27-27. The two teams traded points back and forth over the next 18 plays; however, back-to-back kills by Lindsay Raus and Feiser ended the see-saw battle and allowed the Panthers to walk away with the decisive 38-36 victory.
"We started out strong in the first game, executing and keeping the pressure on them," commented head coach Shane Pinder. "In the second game we got out early but allowed them to climb back in it and win."
"It's tough to close with a young team and it was definitely a learning experience," Pinder went on to say. "We showed a lot of determination and fight in the fourth game to make it close, but we're going to have to continue to learn and get better everyday."
For the match, Feiser paced the Panthers with 17 kills, 28 assists and a .481 hitting percentage, while Kaufman and Ashley Mellott added 13 and 10 kills each. Lauren Hatch added 18 assists and 11 digs, while Whitney Kaltenegger chipped in with 11 digs. The Panthers finished the match with a .290 hitting percentage and 11 service aces.
Liberty was led by Nelson's 17 kills, while Autum Poorman tallied 12 kills and a .348 hitting percentage. Bartolomeo led Liberty with 47 assists and nine digs, while Allison Hallock paced the team with 12 digs.
The Lady Flames will return to action tomorrow afternoon as they host defending Big South Conference champion Winthrop in the Vines Center. The match is set to start at 4 p.m. and will conclude Parent's Weekend for the Lady Flames volleyball team.