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Blocking Plays Key Role in Lady Flames' 3-1 Win over Coastal Carolina
The victory evens the Lady Flames' Big South Conference record at 2-2. Liberty, now 4-11 overall, is 2-0 at home this season. The Chanticleers leave town with a 5-14 overall mark. Coastal is 1-3 in league play.
The serve of Alysson Sanders (R-So., OH, Bear, Del.) played a key role in Liberty's game one win. The Lady Flames enjoyed separate runs of 3-0 and 5-0 on her serve, allowing them to break open what was a close contest in the early stages. Sanders posted two of her match-high and career-high four aces during the opening game.
Liberty would go on to win game one by a 30-20 count, but the home team had to work for each point. Coastal libero Megan Pollard tallied 11 of her match-high 29 digs during the game.
Coach Shane Pinder's Lady Flames enjoyed an early 8-4 advantage in game two before the Chanticleers started to put things together. The visitors took advantage of a Liberty attack error to take a 25-22 lead and necessitate Pinder to take a timeout.
The Lady Flames were able to turn the game around on the ensuing play. Some miscommunication on the Liberty front line nearly allowed the ball to hit the floor. However, freshman Stephanie Stow (MB, Murrieta, Calif.) lunged forward at the last second, digging the ball over the net. The Chanticleers were unable to return Stow's volley, giving Liberty the serve and the momentum.
Lara Bartolomeo (Jr., S/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) served for four consecutive points, giving Liberty the lead for good at 27-25. Nichols (So., OH, Hoover, Ala.) recorded back-to-back kills during the run. Liberty was then able to wrap up a game two victory, 30-27, on a block by Kallie Corbin (Fr., S, Beaverton, Ore.) and Black (Sr., MB, Mingoville, Pa.).
After the intermission, Coastal Carolina came out with a strong effort in game three. The Chanticleers hit .341 on their way to a 30-23 win. The visitors led by just two points at 17-15 before Nakia Thompson ran off three-straight kills during a game-breaking 4-0 burst.
The match looked like it was headed to a fifth game before Liberty's Ashley Webber (So., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) stepped up her play. Coastal Carolina owned a 21-16 advantage before Webber, who had not appeared in the match until game four, came up with big play after big play.
Webber posted two kills, a service ace, an assist and three block assists in Liberty's match-ending 14-3 run. Fittingly, she served for the Lady Flames' final three points of the 30-24 win.
Stellar performances were in abundance for the Lady Flames. Mary Alice Pike (Jr., RS, Durham, N.C.) shared the team lead with 13 kills and added 12 digs, three aces and a career-high seven block assists. Nichols also totaled 13 kills to go along with her 15 digs.
Corbin narrowly missed a triple-double, posting 45 assists, 13 digs, eight kills and four block assists. Sanders added nine kills and 10 digs to her four aces. Bartolomeo paced the Lady Flames with her 24 digs, while Black matched a season high with six total blocks (one solo, five assists).
Four Chanticleers ended the evening with double-digit kills. Ashley Scheible and Jill Nyhof led the way with a dozen kills apiece. Freshman setter Meagan Tracey posted 46 assists and 10 digs.
The Lady Flames will wrap up a brief, two-match homestand Sunday afternoon when they host Charleston Southern (5-12, 0-4 Big South). The match will begin at 1 p.m. at the Vines Center.