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Liberty Edges Bulldogs to End Regular Season
Senior Karyl Bacon went out in style Saturday, posting her 16th double-double of the season with 15 kills and 15 digs in her final match at the Vines Center, as Liberty defeated UNC Asheville, 3-2 (25-14, 22-25, 25-17, 19-25, 15-10).
In addition, libero Kelly Haseman posted a career-high 35 digs, which also ties the Liberty rally-scoring record for most digs in a single match.
With the win, the Lady Flames conclude the 2010 regular season with a 23-8 overall record, and their 14-2 mark in the Big South gives them sole possession of the regular-season conference title.
Bacon becomes the first player in program history to be a part of four Big South regular-season championship teams.
UNC Asheville ends its regular season at 19-11 overall and 11-5 in the conference.
The Lady Flames dominated the opening set, hitting .484 en route to a commanding 25-14 win. Bacon and Loren Thomas led the home team with four kills apiece, while Kendle Rollins and Erica Manor added three kills each for Liberty.
Cindi Miller paced the Bulldogs with three kills, while Kelsey Benorden hit 2-for-8 with a .250 attack percentage. As a team, the Lady Flames out-attacked the visitors, 18 kills to seven.
Sparked by four kills by Benorden, the Bulldogs came storming back in the second frame. After several lead changes and tie scores, the Bulldogs pulled away with Rachel Wells at the service line, and a Miller kill sealed the 25-22 win.
Holly Shelton hit .667 with two kills and three blocks for UNC Asheville, while Benorden contributed four more kills. Rollins hit .500 with four kills for Liberty, while setter Jade Craycraft jumped for three rejections.
Only two lead changes occurred in the third set, as the Lady Flames were able to regain control of the match. Behind a solid .600 attack percentage by Lillie Happel, the Lady Flames hit .269 as a team and held the Bulldogs to -.071, moving to a 25-17 victory. Craycraft tallied three more blocks during the set.
Bacon led all players with four kills, while Happel added three for Liberty. Miller paced the Bulldogs' attack with three kills, and Jenna Dover added three blocks.
The fourth frame was the closest of the contest, as fans witnessed 11 tie scores and six lead changes throughout. In this set, it was UNC Asheville that controlled the match offensively, hitting .103 and holding Liberty to .021. The last tie score was 13-all, and key kills by Benorden and Dover, partnered with several Lady Flame miscues, allowed the visitors to march to a 25-19 win.
Dover was three-for-three in attacks for the Bulldogs, while Rachel Olivo put up three blocks. Happel led Liberty with four kills and Bacon added three.
Bacon stepped it up a notch in the final set, hitting .400 with four kills to ensure a 15-10 win in the final set, sealing the 37th home win of her career. She also recorded the match-winning kill to claim the 3-2 victory.
Happel and Manor added two kills each for the Lady Flames, while Benorden and Hallie Morse paced the Bulldogs with two kills apiece.
Overall, Bacon's 15 kills led all players. Happel added 13 kills, while setter Craycraft put up 46 total helpers to lead all players in assists, and also added six blocks. Happel posted six aces for the Lady Flames.
Benorden led UNC Asheville with 10 kills, while Rachel Guinane tallied 15 assists and Alex Stewart crouched for 26 digs.
Pending tonight's result of a Charleston Southern-Presbyterian College matchup, seedings will be determined for next week's Big South Volleyball Championship. Liberty should enter the tournament with the No. 1 seed, and play is scheduled to begin on Thursday in Rock Hill, S.C.