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Career-Highs, Bacon Milestone Lead LU
Karyl Bacon hit a momumental moment in her career Saturday, nabbing her 1,000th career kill as Liberty defeated UNC Asheville, 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-19).
Bacon became the ninth player in program history to join the 1,000/1,000 Club, as she also has recorded more than 1,000 digs.
In addition, Hannah Anderson recorded a career-high 14 kills and setter Jade Craycraft reached a career high with 57 assists.
As a team, the Lady Flames tallied 12 team blocks.
In the beginning, the Bulldogs won three quick points, but the Lady Flames jumped on the board on kills by Kendle Rollins and Bacon for a 3-2 score. UNC Asheville maintained a led until a kill by Anderson tied it up, 7-all, and Liberty took its first lead on the next point thanks to a service ace by Kelly Haseman.
But UNC Asheville responded with five straight points for a 12-8 advantage, prompting Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder to call a timeout. It worked, as Rollins came up an unanswered spike and a block, followed by another Anderson kill, for a 12-11 score.
Each time the Bulldogs started to pull away, the Lady Flames came up with answers to stay within reach, highlighted by two consecutive kills by Loren Thomas to bring the score to 17-15 in UNC Asheville's favor.
Later, a solo block by Lillie Happel brought the Lady Flames to within one point, 21-20.
Liberty saved a set point when a spike by Bacon landed on the sideline, but the Bulldogs sealed the 25-23 win with a kill by Cindi Miller.
Anderson led the Lady Flames in the opening set with four kills, while Bacon and Thomas each added three. The Bulldogs were paced by Miller, who led all players with nine kills. Both teams hit an even .282 in attacks in the first frame.
In the second set, it was the Lady Flames who broke away for a 4-2 lead after Anderson followed a Rollins kill with a service ace. The score went back and forth from there, as each team took turns tying it up. When the score hit 12-all, the Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run on three kills and two Liberty attack errors. Happel ended the streak with a crosscourt kill for 17-13.
Liberty kept chipping away, and tied it up, 21-all, on a service ace by Craycraft. The Lady Flames then took the lead on the next point on another Craycraft ace, and UNC Asheville called a timeout.
Liberty then got its first set point on a UNC Asheville attack error after a long and heated rally, but the Bulldogs shrugged it off on a kill by Miller, evening the score at 24-24.
On the next point, Bacon reached her milestone, her 1,000th career kill, for another set point. Bacon followed it up with another kill to close out the set, 26-24.
Rollins paced the Lady Flames with six kills in the second set, while Bacon contributed five and Craycraft put up 16 assists. Miller again led the Bulldogs, adding six kills, while Kelsey Benorden recorded five unanswered spikes.
Liberty rode that momentum into the third set, jumping to a quick 6-1 advantage, but UNC Asheville responded with four straight points for a 6-5 score. From then on, the third frame mirrored the previous two, as the two teams continued trading points, the match didn't extend beyond a one-point margin until the Lady Flames went ahead, 11-9, on a block by Craycraft and Thomas.
The Bulldogs continued to rally back, until Liberty went on a 6-0 run for an 18-11 lead. The Lady Flames didn't let up, staying in control to generate a set point, 24-16. The Bulldogs saved four chances, before a UNC Asheville service error clinched the 25-20 win, giving Liberty a two sets to one lead.
Bacon led the Lady Flames with five kills, and Craycraft notched 13 assists. For UNC Asheville, Miller led the team with four kills.
The Lady Flames showed an added confidence in the fourth set, wasting no time and moving to a commanding 8-2 advantage. The Lady Flames kept cruising, moving ahead, 11-3, on a Happel service ace.
However, at 13-4, the Bulldogs claimed three straight points for 13-7, and Pinder made the timeout call.
Later, Anderson stopped another UNC Asheville run with a kill, giving Liberty a 17-10 advantage.
The Lady Flames never looked back, and earned a match point, 24-18, when Bacon stepped up with a back-row kill. Anderson closed ot out two points later with a kill down the middle for the 25-19 win.
Bacon led Liberty with five kills in the final set, while Anderson and Thomas added four kills apiece. Holly Shelton paced the home team with five kills and a .625 attack percentage.
Overall, Miller led all players with 21 kills. Benorden contributed 12 kills for UNC Asheville, while Rachel Guinane put up 30 assists. Benorden also led the team with 15 digs.
Bacon led the Lady Flames with 18 kills, followed by Anderson with 14. Craycraft put up her 57 assists, and Haseman led all players with 15 digs. Bacon also notched a double-double, adding 14 digs.
The Lady Flames will now return home for a three-match homestand, hosting High Point on Tuesday at 7 p.m.