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Lady Flames Edge Chanticleers, 3-2
The Lady Flames showed their endurance Saturday, holding on for a 3-2 (25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 18-25, 15-11) victory over Coastal Carolina at Kimbel Arena in Conway, S.C.
Liberty is now 3-0 against conference opponents in five-set matches this season.
Karyl Bacon and Lillie Happel both recorded double-doubles for the Lady Flames.
With the win, the Lady Flames (21-8, 12-2 BSC) stay in first place in the Big South, while the Chanticleers drop to 14-15 overall and 7-7 in conference play.
The beginning of the opening frame went back and forth until Coastal Carolina, boosted by kills from seniors Megan Bickford and Chelsy Kimes, moved to a 9-6 lead. The Lady Flames were able to stay within reach, and tied it up, 12-all, on a solo block by Loren Thomas. Thomas tied it up again four points later with a solid kill down the middle for a 14-14 score.
The Lady Flames took their first lead since 2-1 at 16-15, on another Thomas block. But Liberty struggled to pull away, as the Chanticleers held on to regain the lead, 18-17, when the Lady Flames committed an attack error.
After Coastal Carolina went on a 4-1 charge, Liberty stormed back with three straight points to tie it again, 23-all. It was Liberty who came up big on the next play, as a Bacon kill gave Liberty a set point. Bacon stepped up again to with another kill to seal the 25-23 first set win.
Neither team generated solid offense in the opening set, as Liberty hit .148 compared to .143 for Coastal Carolina. Kimes led all players with four kills, while Bacon and Thomas added three kills apiece for the visitors.
Several long rallies kicked off the second set, as the two squads traded points until the Chanticleers took a two-point advantage, 9-7, after two straight kills by Kimes. Coastal Carolina then pulled away with Kimes at the service line, jumping to a 15-9 lead after two Liberty attack errors, two Kimes aces and a block by Amanda Russell and Meghan Laffin.
Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder called a timeout to allow his team to regroup, but the Chanticleers immediately picked up three more points for an 18-9 lead.
A kill by Thomas broke up the Coastal Carolina scoring streak for a 21-13 score, starting a wave of Liberty momentum that brought the mark to 22-16. After a home-team timeout, the Lady Flames kept rolling, as kills by Rollins, Bacon and Craycraft, plus a block by Happel, brought Liberty to within three points at 22-19.
Liberty was then able to save two Chanticleer set points when Rollins and Happel tallied timely kills, but Kimes closed out the second-set 25-21 win with a kill, her 12th of the match.
Kimes once again led all players with eight kills and accounted for 10 points, and the Chanticleers hit .256 overall. Rollins hit .800 for the set with four kills to lead the Lady Flames, but the Liberty squad was held to a .170 attack percentage.
Liberty emerged from the locker room for the third set with a renewed confidence, and three Coastal service errors contributed to a 7-5 Lady Flames advantage. Liberty lost some of its luster, as the Chanticleers fought back to tie it up, 11-all.
But Liberty regained its two-point lead, 15-13, when Thomas ended an extended rally with an unanswered spike. However, the Chanticleers found a groove, tying it up at 17-17 when Lauren Alejo came up with an ace.
More impressive rallies ensued, and it was the Lady Flames who came up big in the end, as they marched to a 25-21 victory when Bacon and Thomas stepped up with two kills late in the set. Defensive specialist Courtney Cooper also contributed several key digs to help Liberty clinch the win for a two-sets-to-one advantage.
Liberty performed much stronger offensively, posting a .393 attack percentage. The surge was highlighted by six kills and a .857 hitting percentage by Happel. Erika Lightsey led the Chanticleers with four kills in the third frame.
It was Coastal Carolina that attacked first in the fourth set, jumping to a 9-5 lead thanks to kills by Russell and Laffin partnered with a few Liberty miscues. The Chanticleers were able to maintain the four-point advantage, then moved that lead to seven points, 17-10, on consecutive kills by Lightsey, Bickford and Russell.
The Lady Flames were able to stage a gradual comeback, chipping away at the lead to bring the score to 21-18.But the Chanticleers refused to sit down, sealing a 25-18 win on a Liberty attack error and sending the match into a fifth set.
Kimes and Laffin led the Coastal Carolina attack with four kills apiece, while Bacon contributed four kills for the Lady Flames. The Chanticleers posted a .308 attack percentage while holding Liberty to .135.
The tone of the match stayed consistent in the deciding set, with long rallies and lead changes in the beginning. Then, a Bacon service ace put the Lady Flames ahead, 6-4, prompting Coastal Carolina to call a timeout.
Liberty maintained a slim advantage until a big Thomas kill gave the Lady Flames a match point, 14-11. An impending Kelsie Mauck ball handling error gave Liberty the 15-11 win, and the five-set victory.
Liberty hit .476 in the final set, highlighted by four kills by Thomas. Kimes paced the Chanticleers with four kills.
Overall, Happel led the Lady Flames with 15 kills, and added 18 digs. Bacon posted 13 kills and 14 digs, while Thomas and Rollins contributed 12 kills and 11 kills, respectively.
Kimes led all players with 22 kills, followed by Lightsey with 12.
Craycraft put up 52 assists for the match, while Alejo posted 34 assists for the home team.
Liberty libero Kelly Haseman led all players with 25 digs during the match.
The Lady Flames are back in action Tuesday evening with a road match at Radford at 7 p.m. Coastal Carolina next faces off on Nov. 11 against the Highlanders, with that match scheduled for 7 p.m.