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Lady Flames Hold Off Panthers, 3-1
The Liberty Lady Flames held the visiting High Point Panthers to a .057 attack percentage, controlling most of the match for a 3-1 (25-15, 25-14, 19-25, 25-22) victory, Tuesday evening. With the win, Liberty takes over sole possession of first place in the Big South Conference standings.
The Lady Flames improve to 17-7 overall and 8-1 in conference play, while High Point drops to 12-11 overall and 7-2 in the Big South. The Lady Flames have now won five straight matches, and snapped High Point's five-match winning streak. The Panthers' only two Big South losses have come to Liberty this season.
Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Anderson enjoyed her second consecutive match reaching double-digits in kills, posting 11 successful spikes on the night and a match-best .562 attack percentage. In addition, middle blocker Kendle Rollins tied a career-high with seven blocks on the night.
Liberty dominated the first two sets, never trailing in the two opening frames.
In the first set, the Lady Flames' offense was on fire, posting a whopping .520 attack percentage compared to -.033 for the Panthers. Anderson led all players in the 25-15 win with four kills, while Jade Craycraft paced the set with 12 assists. The Panthers were led by Audie Gonzalez, who posted five kills.
The Lady Flames didn't let up in the second frame, hitting a solid .500 while holding the Panthers to a .000 attack percentage.
The set was close in the beginning, but the Lady Flames were able to take a 12-point lead, 22-10, thanks in part to three aces by Anderson and key kills by Karyl Bacon and Rollins. A Loren Thomas kill at 24-14 sealed the second-set win.
Rollins led the Lady Flames with four kills in the second set, followed by Bacon and Anderson with three apiece. Craycraft put up 12 more assists, and Lillie Happel jumped for two solo blocks.
Stephanie Wallin, Courtney Johnk and Megan Smith each contributed two kills for the Panthers.
High Point emerged from the locker room with a renewed confidence for the third set, jumping on Liberty early for a 6-1 advantage. The Lady Flames inched their way back, even though the Panthers led by as many as 10 points, at 17-7.
At 24-17, the Lady Flames saved two set points on High Point attack errors, but a kill by Megan Smith gave the Panthers the 25-19 win.
Paced by Wallin and Smith with five kills each, High Point out-hit the Lady Flames, 14 kills to seven. Happel led the Liberty cause, adding three kills out of seven attempts.
The Lady Flames responded with a stronger attacking system in the fourth frame, taking the reins for a 10-5 lead. But the Panthers clawed their way back on key kills by Smith, partnered with several Liberty attack errors, and the match became tied up at 15-all.
From there, the two teams traded points until back-to-back kills by Happel and Bacon put Liberty ahead, 22-20. Liberty then reached match point at 24-22, and clinched the win on a Gonzalez attack error.
Bacon and Anderson led the Lady Flames with four kills each in the final set, while Craycraft added 13 assists. Smith paced the Panthers with six kills, but as a team, High Point only mustered a .062 attack percentage compared to Liberty's .269.
Overall, Smith led all players with 16 kills. Setter Maddie Simpson led the Panthers with 36 assists.
Bacon led Liberty's balanced attack with 12 kills, followed by Anderson's 11. Anderson also notched three service aces and contributed 14 points for the Lady Flames. Craycraft posted a match-high 42 assists.
As a team, the Lady Flames posted a .320 attack percentage and 10 blocks.
No players in the match recorded double-digits in digs. Liberty libero Kelly Haseman tallied the most digs in the match at nine.
With the win, Liberty now holds the No. 1 ranking in the conference standings, as the regular season begins to wind down.
The Lady Flames are back in action this weekend, hosting Presbyterian College on Friday and Gardner-Webb on Saturday. The match against the Blue Hose is slated to begin at 7 p.m.
High Point returns home to host Charleston Southern on Friday evening.