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Lady Flames Take Five-Set Thriller
Despite trailing, two sets to one, the Liberty Lady Flames clawed their way back, winning their first five-set match of the season, 3-2 (25-17, 21-25, 21-25, 25-20, 15-9), over Presbyterian College, Saturday evening.
The closely-contested match was played in front of a passionate Blue Hose crowd, and both teams hit an even .203 for the match.
With the win, the Lady Flames improve to 11-6 overall and 2-0 in Big South Conference play, while the Blue Hose drop to 6-8 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
The beginning of the match saw a few long rallies, and a Lillie Happel kill gave the Lady Flames a 4-2 lead. Kendle Rollins served for two more Liberty points, and kills by Loren Thomas and Jade Craycraft extended the advantage to 7-3, causing Presbyterian to call a timeout.
Every time Liberty began to pull away, the Blue Hose had an answer, and came within two points at 13-11. An Andrea Barman kill brought the score to 13-12, but Karyl Bacon answered with a kill of her own to push it to 15-13.
After more back-and-forth play, Erica Manor came up with a big kill, giving Liberty 20 points compared to Presbyterian's 15.
Manor served two consecutive aces for a Liberty set point, and Rollins attacked down the middle to seal the 25-17 opening set win.
Happel hit a perfect 3-for-3 in the opening set, notching three kills. Craycraft also recorded three kills and eight assists.
The Blue Hose were paced by Presley Mabrey, who led all players with nine kills, while setter Kilee Ruppe put up 11 assists in the stanza.
The Blue Hose came out swinging in the second set, taking a quick 10-0 advantage, thanks in part to five Liberty attack errors and two kills by Lisa Shelley. The Lady Flames picked up their first point of set two on a service error by Mabrey.
After a long rally, a block by Rollins and Karyl Bacon brought the score to 11-2. Two points later, Liberty won its first point on the attack when Happel recorded a kill.
The Lady Flames were able to cut Presbyterian's lead in half when an ace by Bacon made the score 14-7. Liberty then pulled to within five points on a block by Rollins and Courtney Boggs, and the Blue Hose held onto a 15-10 advantage.
But Presbyterian held strong, eventually moving ahead, 20-12. The Lady Flames didn't give up, however, as two kills from Happel and one from Bacon brought the score to 21-16.
Liberty was able to stay within reach, and shrugged off two set points with a Loren Thomas kill and a service ace by Kelly Haseman. But the Blue Hose stood firm, clinching the second set, 25-21, with another Mabrey spike that was just out of Haseman's reach.
Happel paced all players in the second set with four kills, followed by Rollins with three. Rollins also had a .423 hitting percentage for the set.
The Blue Hose were led by Shelley, who hit .500 with three kills.
Presbyterian seemed to ride that momentum into the third set, jumping out to a 2-0 lead. But the Lady Flames refused to let the Blue Hose have a repeat of the second set, and two consecutive Manor kills tied it up at 2-all.
But Presbyterian found another groove, winning the next three points for a 5-2 advantage. Later, a Bacon kill tied it up, 6-6.
A pattern then began of the Lady Flames tying it up, and the Blue Hose regaining a one-point lead.
Despite some stellar spikes by several Lady Flames, Presbyterian had an answer for each of them, highlighted by key digs from PC libero Ashley Dunlap. A kill by Shelley gave the Blue Hose a three-point advantage, 14-11.
Presbyterian kept swinging away, moving ahead, 19-12.
The Lady Flames fought off a set point when Rollins and Manor teamed up for a timely block, and a service ace by Manor brought the score to 24-21.
But on the next play, Manor's serve sailed into the net, giving Presbyterian the 25-21 set three victory.
Bacon put down four kills in the third set, hitting .375. As a team, the Lady Flames were held to just a .129 attack percentage.
Mabrey led Presbyterian, hitting .556 with six kills.
The Lady Flames took their first lead since the first set when Presbyterian's Amanda Kettles committed an attack error (3-2). Then, an error by Mabrey and a Rollins ace gave Liberty a 5-2 advantage, early in the fourth set.
That lead didn't last long, as the Blue Hose won three straight points to tie it up at 5-all.
The Lady Flames seemed to find some momentum, as two Bacon kills and a Happel service ace led them to an 11-7 advantage. But the Blue Hose bounced back to come within two on a Liberty attack error, bringing the score to 13-11.
Liberty pulled away again when two Rollins kills and an ace by Craycraft sparked a 17-13 advantage. But the Blue Hose wouldn't allow the Lady Flames to shut the door, coming back to within two points at 19-17.
It was neck-and-neck from there, until Liberty won three straight points on a Bacon kill, an ace by Craycraft, and finally, a kill by Manor to clinch the fourth set, 25-20.
Bacon notched five kills in the fourth frame, and Liberty held the Blue Hose to a meager .037 attack percentage as the Lady Flames staged their comeback.
The fifth set stayed close throughout, as each team fought for the victory. After going back and forth, Liberty pulled away, 7-5, on consecutive kills by Bacon and Happel. At 8-6, Presbyterian Head Coach Chris Belshe called a timeout.
Craycraft came up with a surprise spike on the next point, giving Liberty a 9-6 advantage and prompting another Blue Hose timeout.
The Lady Flames seemed to have it together at that point, as a Thomas-Craycraft block and a Bacon service ace pushed them to 11-6.
At 12-8, Manor and Craycraft both had successful attacks to set up the match point, but the Blue Hose saved it with a timely kill by Brown.
On the next point, Happel came up with a kill down the middle for the win, 15-9, and the match victory.
Happel was 2-for-2 in attacks in the final set, while Bacon added three kills. Kettles and Barman each added two kills for the Blue Hose.
Overall, Bacon led the Lady Flames with 15 kills, while Happel had 11 and Thomas recorded a .364 attack percentage. Craycraft added six kills and 43 assists, while Haseman had 17 digs.
Mabrey led all players with 21 kills, while Ruppe contributed 46 assists for the Blue Hose.
The Lady Flames continue 2010 Big South play on Tuesday night, taking on the Panthers of High Point in High Point, N.C. The Blue Hose will next host Bethune-Cookman Monday for a non-conference matchup.