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James Madison Overcomes Liberty's Fast Start, Wins 3-1 Decision

September 19, 2006
|  Harrisonburg, Va.
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Alysson Sanders provided a career-best 17 kills.

Alysson Sanders provided a career-best 17 kills.

Liberty took a competitive first game from host James Madison Tuesday evening before the Dukes roared back to win the match, 3-1 (31-33, 30-25, 30-23, 30-25), improving to 6-1 at Sinclair Gymnasium this season. 

The setback leaves the Lady Flames' season record at 2-9. James Madison improves to 7-5. 

Liberty outside hitter Alysson Sanders (R-So., Bear, Del.) played one of the best matches of her career, setting a new career high with 17 kills and adding nine digs and four blocks. She got things started for the Lady Flames, recording a kill for the first point of the evening and serving for point number two. 

The two teams went back and forth throughout the initial game. The home team took its largest lead of the game at 17-11 on one of Allyson Halls' match-high 21 kills. Liberty came right back and scored 12 of the next 15 points. Mary Alice Pike (Jr., RS, Durham, N.C.), the reigning Big South Player of the Week, put down a kill to give Liberty a 23-20 advantage. 

Each team fought off one game point before Liberty scored three consecutive points to end the game with a 33-31 triumph. The Lady Flames' last two points came on James Madison attack errors. 

James Madison jumped out to the early lead in game two. Twice (10-2 and 11-3) the Dukes built eight-point cushions. Liberty chipped away at the lead and actually took a pair of leads in the latter stages of the game. 

A block by Autum Black (Sr., MB, Mingoville, Pa.) and Kendall Nichols (So., OH, Hoover, Ala.) gave Liberty an 18-17 advantage. Another of Pike's 11 kills made it 19-18. Those 11 kills marked the seventh straight match that the junior has reached double figures in kills. 

A kill by freshman setter Kallie Corbin (Beaverton, Ore.) knotted the score at 25. James Madison then ended game two with a 5-0 burst, recording a 30-25 decision. Nicole Fenner had three of her 17 total kills during that decisive surge. 

Game three was close the entire way, but the home team took the lead for good when a Hanna Porterfield spike made it 9-8. Nichols contributed a kill that trimmed the JMU advantage to 19-18. 

The visitors were unable to get over the hump, however. James Madison scored the next three points and went on for a 30-23 victory. 

Down two games to one, the Lady Flames fought hard in game four. The score was tied eight times, the last coming at 16-16. 

Halls came up with another kill on the following point, starting a 4-0 JMU run. Liberty would get no closer than three points down the remainder of the way, falling by a 30-25 margin. 

Corbin equaled a career high with 48 assists and established a new career-best dig total with 25, leading the Lady Flames in that category. Nichols also recorded a double-double, notching 11 kills and a season-best 14 digs. 

Black and Ashley Webber (So., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) added four blocks apiece. Lara Bartolomeo (Jr., S/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) went over the 20-dig mark for the third time in her last four outings, finishing the evening with 23 digs. 

In addition to Halls' 21 kills, the junior was involved in 10 of JMU's 17 team blocks. Lauren Miles posted 63 assists, while Jena Pierson paced the home team with 25 digs. 

Liberty will open the home portion of its schedule Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. when Radford (4-7) visits the Vines Center. The match will mark the Big South Conference opener for both of the in-state rivals as well.