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Bacon Records 20-20 in Five-Set Loss
Despite a stellar homecoming performance from senior Karyl Bacon, the Liberty Lady Flames dropped a five-set heartbreaker to UC Irvine, 3-2 (22-25, 25-19, 17-25, 25-20, 14-16), in Thursday evening's opening match of the Asics Challenge.
Bacon, who hails from Temecula, Calif., set a new career-high with 22 kills and also recorded the first 20-20 performance of her career, notching a season-best 20 digs as well.
The last Liberty player to post 20 or more digs and 20 or more kills in a single match was Jessica Nelson, who finished with 20 kills and 33 digs against William & Mary on Sept. 15, 2007
In addition, the 5-6 Bacon put up a career-high five blocks on the night to lead all players.
With the loss, the Lady Flames drop to 7-4 on the year, while the Anteaters are now 4-6.
The match marked Liberty's second five-set setback this season, as the Lady Flames fell to Cleveland State, 3-2, in the first match of 2010.
The first set went back and forth, as there were 13 tie scores and six lead changes. The Anteaters outhit the Lady Flames in kills, 14-9, led by 2009 honorable mention All-American Kari Pestolesi and her eight kills.
It was Pestolesi who gave UC Irvine a 23-21 lead with a timely spike, but her subsequential service error kept the Lady Flames alive. However, two straight Liberty errors gave the Anteaters the first set win, 25-22.
Liberty came out swinging in the second set, taking a quick 7-1 lead after kills by Bacon, Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft, as well as a service ace by Happel and a big block by Erica Manor and Kendle Rollins.
UC Irvine stayed within reach, even after the Lady Flames took a commanding 11-4 advantage on a Pestolesi attack error. Liberty stayed ahead though, and two consecutive kills by Happel sealed the second set win for the Lady Flames, 25-19.
Happel led all players in the second set with seven kills, followed by Bacon with six. The Lady Flames put up a .306 attack percentage in set two, and held UC Irvine to just .071.
The tables turned in the third set, as UC Irvine led the entire way. The Anteaters outhit Liberty, 16 kills to seven, spearheaded by a .700 attack percentage by Larissa Nordyke. As a result, UC Irvine took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-17 decision.
The Lady Flames sparked back to life in the fourth frame, staying with UC Irvine before pulling away at the end. Several Anteater errors helped the Lady Flames, as well as a Rollins kill that paved the way to set point. The Lady Flames walked away with the 25-20 win to send Liberty into its second fifth set of the season.
Like the entire match up to that point, the fifth set stayed very close throughout. Both teams traded attack errors and kills, until Bacon stepped up with two straight points for a 9-5 lead, prompting UC Irvine Head Coach Paula Weishoff to call a timeout.
The Anteaters kept Liberty within their grasp, and won three straight points to tie it up at 13-all. After a Liberty attack error, the Lady Flames saved a match point on a Happel kill, but kills by Pestolesi and Alyssa Squires closed it out UC Irvine, as they claimed the 16-14 fifth-set win.
Happel joined Bacon in double figures with 11 kills, followed by Rollins with eight. Libero Kelly Haseman contributed a season-high 31 digs for her second consecutive 30-dig performance, while setter Craycraft put up 45 assists. Both Craycraft and Happel fashioned double-doubles, with 12 and 11 digs, respectively.
The Lady Flames also had 10 team blocks, compared to eight rejections for UC Irvine. Liberty had 100 total digs, which had not been done by the Lady Flames since Nov. 23, 2007, against Georgetown (102).
Pestolesi led all players with 26 kills, and also posted 24 digs. Nordyke and Shaina Olsen knocked down 11 kills apiece, while Kristin Winkler recorded a match-leading 32 digs for the Anteaters.
The Lady Flames continue their California trip tomorrow, with matches slated against West Virginia at 2:30 p.m. EST and Yale at 6 p.m. EST. Both matches are part of the Fullerton Classic in Fullerton, Calif.