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Liberty Sweeps Radford in Home, Big South Opener

September 23, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Kendall Nichols led all players with a season-high 17 digs.

Kendall Nichols led all players with a season-high 17 digs.

Liberty opened Big South Conference play on the right foot Saturday afternoon (Sept. 23), sweeping in-state rival Radford by a 3-0 (30-20, 30-24, 30-17) count. The match was the Lady Flames' first home contest of the season after opening the campaign with 11-straight matches away from the Vines Center.

With the win, Liberty improves to 3-9 overall and 1-0 in Big South Conference action. This is the eighth time in the last nine years that the Lady Flames have opened conference play with a victory. Radford is now 4-8 and 0-1 in the conference.

Redshirt sophomore outside hitter Alysson Sanders (Bear, Del.) opened the action with one of her match-high 13 kills. The lead would go back-and-forth early in the first game, however.

The Highlanders took a two-point advantage twice in the early going. One of Lindsey Wheeler's two aces made the score 3-1 and one of Lindsey Poole's team-high 12 kills made it 4-2.

Three different Liberty players recorded kills during a 5-0 run that made it 7-4 in favor of the home team and gave the Lady Flames the lead for good. Liberty won the first game, 30-20, utilizing a sparkling .450 attack percentage. Sanders recorded six kills in the opening game for Liberty while Poole added a half-dozen of her own for the visitors.

White-clad Liberty again got off to a positive start in the second game. Kallie Corbin (Fr., S, Beaverton, Ore.) served up an ace to start the match, one of four for her on the afternoon. The Lady Flames led until Wheeler knotted the score at 11 on an ace of her own.

Radford took its first lead of the second game at 17-16 on a kill by Wheeler. The visitors, coached by Crystal Poskey, also led, 21-20 after an attack error by Mary Alice Pike (Jr., RS, Durham, N.C.).

Pike, the reigning Big South Conference Player of the Week, came right back with two straight kills, giving Liberty the lead for good at 22-21. The Lady Flames' winning margin in the second game was 30-24.

Pike totaled five kills and two aces in the middle game. Poole was again strong on the attack for Radford, recording six more kills in the second game.

Liberty recorded a quick, 5-0 run early in game three, taking a 6-1 advantage. Radford would get no closer than five points down for the remainder of the match as the Lady Flames secured their 10th-straight win over the Highlanders.

Corbin tallied three aces in game three while Kendall Nichols (So., OH, Hoover, Ala.) added four kills and eight digs. Newton contributed six digs for Radford.

The Lady Flames hit .339 for the match. That effort was paced by Sanders, who totaled a .458 attack percentage and by Pike, who hit .417. Pike ended up with 11 kills, reaching double figures in that category for the eighth straight time.

Corbin totaled 39 assists and three block assists to complement her four aces. Nichols ended the afternoon with eight kills and a season-high 17 digs. Lara Bartolomeo (Jr., S/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) came up with 11 digs, while Ashley Webber (So., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) enjoyed a solid, all-around performance for Liberty, contributing nine kills, three aces and three blocks, setting season highs in the first two categories.

Poole led the Highlander attack with 12 kills. Newton was the lone Radford player to reach double figures in digs, ending up with 11. Lexi Miller posted six kills and assisted on three blocks. Setter Josie Hanners tallied 26 assists and seven digs.

Liberty will return to the road for two Big South matches next weekend, starting with a Friday contest at UNC Asheville. Match time at the Justice Center is set for 7 p.m.

Radford, who has not yet played a home match, will travel to Birmingham-Southern on Friday for an 8 p.m. matchup.