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Despite Career Numbers, LU Falls to Winthrop
Despite four Lady Flames notching double-digits in kills, the Eagles of Winthrop were able to hand Liberty its first conference loss of the season, 3-1 (28-26, 17-25, 28-26, 26-24), Friday night, at the Vines Center.
Karyl Bacon, Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft each recorded double-doubles, while Loren Thomas contributed a career-high 14 kills and Kendle Rollins tied a career high with 12 kills.
The Lady Flames' three-match winning streak was snapped, as Liberty drops to 12-7 overall and 3-1 in Big South play. The Eagles improve to 6-10 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
The first set stayed close from the beginning, but Liberty kept an edge throughout, as there were only two lead changes. The Lady Flames were first to have a set point at 24-23 with a Bacon kill, but Becca Toor responded with a kill for Winthrop to tie it up.
After a kill by Carolyn Weed at 26-all, a Liberty attack error handed the Eagles the 28-26 first set win.
Bacon led all players with six kills in the opening set, while Craycraft was 3-for-4 in attacks. Winthrop's Kelsey Hall led all players with 11 assists, while Viola hit .333 for the Eagles.
Liberty came out strong in the second set, and never trailed en route to the 25-17 win to even up the match. The Eagles were able to save three set points before a kill by Thomas put Liberty back in the match.
Thomas hit an astounding .857 with six kills, while Rollins was a perfect 5-for-5 in attacks. As a team, the Lady Flames hit .417 in the second set, and held the Eagles to .222.
Liberty struggled to keep that momentum going in the third set, even though the Lady Flames took a 15-9 lead. After a Rollins kill gave Liberty a 22-18 advantage, the Eagles won three straight points for a 22-21 score.
The Lady Flames earned a set point on a kill by Thomas, but a Bacon attack error at 24-all gave Winthrop a set point opportunity of its own. Bacon redeemed herself with a kill for the 25-25 tie, but Viola responded with a kill of her own to put Winthrop in front.
A Thomas kill saved another set point, but two consecutive attack errors by Liberty closed out the third set with a 28-26 Winthrop victory.
Bacon again led all players with five kills, while Viola and Toor paced the Eagles with four kills apiece.
The pattern of the match remained the same in the fourth set, staying close throughout with 15 tie scores.
At 22-21 Winthrop, Rollins stepped up with a kill from Craycraft to tie it up, but a Liberty ball-handling error pushed the score to 23-22, Eagles. After another Liberty error gave Winthrop a match point, Bacon kept the Lady Flames going with a kill, bringing the score to 24-23 in favor of the visitors. A block by Bacon and Thomas tied it up, 24-all, but two straight kills by Viola sealed the set and the match for Winthrop.
Viola led all players with six kills in the final set, while Bacon added five for Liberty. The two teams had an even attacking success, as Winthrop hit .342 and the Lady Flames hit .341.
Overall, the Lady Flames outhit Winthrop, 70 kills to 60, and posted a .241 attack percentage compared to Winthrop's .241.
Craycraft set a new career mark with 56 assists, and libero Kelly Haseman recorded 17 digs. Bacon led all players with 20 kills.
Viola paced the Eagles with 16 kills, while Kelsey Hall posted 50 helpers and Kelsey Harrison added 19 digs.
The Lady Flames are back in action tomorrow, hosting the Lady Bucs of Charleston Southern in a 2 p.m. Big South matchup at the Vines Center.
The Eagles, who picked up their third straight conference win with tonight's victory, play again Oct. 5, hosting Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m.