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Liberty Overcomes Charleston Southern in Five
In only their fourth five-set match of the year, the Liberty Lady Flames overcame a two sets-to-one deficit to defeat the Lady Bucs of Charleston Southern, 3-2 (23-25, 25-11, 20-25, 25-17, 15-11), Friday night, at CSU Field House.
Libero Kelly Haseman hit a milestone, as her 19 digs put her at 503 on the year, making her the first player in Liberty history to post two 500-dig seasons.
Karyl Bacon and Lillie Happel each recorded double-doubles to help the Liberty cause.
With the win, the Lady Flames, now on an eight-match winning streak, improve to 20-7 overall and 11-1 in Big South play. The Lady Bucs drop to 10-17 overall and 4-8 in the conference.
The beginning of the first set was largely defined by many long rallies, with each team switching off winning points. The Lady Bucs overcame a two-point deficit (6-4), winning six straight points for a 10-6 advantage. Liberty finally broke the Charleston Southern run with a block by Loren Thomas and Jade Craycraft, bringing the score to 11-7.
After the Bucs regained a four-point lead at 13-9, the Lady Flames cut it to two with a kill by Happel followed by a double-block by Happel and Kendle Rollins.
Charleston Southern was able to maintain a two-point advantage until Liberty came back to within 15-14 on an attack error by setter Amy Nokes, prompting CSU head coach Danyell Bellush to call a timeout.
Liberty eventually tied it up, 17-17, on another attack error by Nokes, and the Lady Flames then took their first lead since 6-4 with a huge Thomas kill down the middle.
Neither team could manage to put a string of points together, as the Lady Flames and Charleston Southern continued trading points until the Bucs took a 23-21 lead.
A service error by Kayla Klinger broke the run, and an attack error by Amanda Hill tied it up, 23-all. But Hill came back with an off-speed kill to give CSU a set point, and a Happel attack error gave the Lady Bucs the 25-23 win.
Bacon led the Liberty attack with four kills and a .571 hitting percentage during the opening stanza, while Amberle Trinder paced the Lady Bucs with four kills. Charleston Southern hit .125 as a team in the opening set, compared to .093 for Liberty.
The Lady Flames bounced back in the second set, jumping out to a quick 8-2 lead on five straight points with Rollins at the service line. Liberty didn't let up, and an unanswered spike by Thomas gave the visitors a commanding 11-3 advantage.
The drawn-out rallies continued, but Liberty was the team with the most winning points, extending its lead to 18-8 when Happel took a helper from Craycraft for a kill.
The Lady Flames kept rolling, and sealed a 25-11 victory after two straight Charleston Southern errors.
It was Thomas who led the Lady Flames in the second frame, notching four kills and a .800 hitting percentage, while Rollins, Bacon, Happel and Hannah Anderson added three kills apiece.
Hill led the Lady Bucs with five kills.
As a team, the Lady Flames hit .455 in the second set, holding the host Lady Bucs to .067. Liberty also out-hit CSU, 18 kills to seven.
It was Charleston Southern that came out swinging in the third set, moving to a 6-1 advantage after three Liberty attack errors.
The Lady Flames stayed within reach though, chipping away at the lead to come within two points, 17-15, after kills by Thomas and Courtney Boggs and a service ace by Happel. After the Lady Bucs tried to inch away again, two more kills by Thomas brought it back to 19-17, and a Klinger attack error made it a one-point set at 19-18. Another long rally ensued, and the Lady Flames tied it up, 19-all on a back-row kill by Happel.
But CSU's Hill got on a hot streak, helping the Lady Bucs move to a 22-19 lead, which they were able to extend to a 25-20 win after two more attack errors by the Lady Flames.
Hill led all players with eight kills during set three, while Thomas paced the Lady Flames with five out of her seven attempts ending in kills. The Lady Bucs also recorded five team blocks, compared to one for the Lady Flames.
Liberty recovered early in the fourth frame, as a Rollins ace and a Thomas kill put the Lady Flames ahead, 8-4. That four-point advantage stayed consistent until a rare Hill attack error gave Liberty a 16-9 lead, and Bellush called a timeout.
The Lady Bucs were able to find ways to score, but it was Liberty that maintained control, moving quickly to a 22-14 lead. Happel then came up with an ace, followed by a Bacon kill for 24-14.
After three CSU points, Emily Libertowski sent a serve sailing past the back line, and Liberty won the fourth set, 25-17.
The Lady Flames hit .300 with five kills from Bacon and four from Thomas, while CSU only mustered eight total kills and a .111 attack percentage. Trinder, Klinger and Hill contributed two kills each. For Liberty, Happel posted three service aces.
The impressive rallies continued in the final set, as Charleston Southern took a 5-3 lead. Bacon stopped the Lady Bucs' momentum with a kill, and an attack error by Erin LaVenice tied it up, 5-all. The two teams continued going back and forth, and each point was a battle. Liberty took its second lead of the frame, 8-7, on a Cori Holeman attack error.
A kill by Hill made it 8-8, but Thomas responded with a kill of her own and an error in CSU communication allowed the ball to drop, giving Liberty a 10-8 advantage.
The set stayed close, as Liberty held a two-point lead at 13-11. A Bacon kill set up match point, and Liberty closed it out when a spike by Holeman sailed long.
In the fifth set, Bacon paced the Lady Flames with four kills, while Hill put down six kills for the Lady Bucs.
Overall for the match, the Lady Flames hit .220 and held CSU to a .121 attack percentage. The Lady Flames also tallied 11 blocks, and Craycraft led all players with 50 assists.
Five Lady Flames recorded double digits in kills, led by Bacon with 18 and Thomas with 14. Rollins, Happel and Anderson added 10 kills each.
With 24 kills, Hill passed Liberty assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden on the Big South all-time list for career kills. Hill has now amassed 1,804 kills to move into third place, while Vaden ended her stellar career with 1,789 kills.
Thomas had six blocks for Liberty, while Rollins added five rejections.
Liberty is back in action tomorrow, taking on Winthrop at 2 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C. Charleston Southern next hosts Coastal Carolina on Tuesday at 6 p.m.