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Lady Flames Sweep FAMU for First Win
Liberty utilized a strong performance at the net in sweeping Florida A&M, 3-0 (25-15, 26-24, 25-22) to claim its first win of the 2011 season Saturday at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga.
The Lady Flames closed out the Hotel Indigo Bulldog Invitational in third place with a 1-2 record, while the Lady Rattlers went 0-3 at the event. Liberty totaled 42 kills at a season-best .337 pace, led by Lillie Happel's 13 kills and a career-high 11 from Ansley Gebben.
Liberty built a 5-1 advantage out of the gate in the opening set, getting kills from Happel, Loren Thomas and Gebben along with a block by Melissa Racz and Kendle Rollins. Following a Florida A&M timeout, the Lady Flames continued to carry momentum, on the way to a 7-1 lead. The Rattlers then bounced back, scoring five out of the next seven points to pull to within three at 9-6. Happel sent down a kill, igniting a 4-0 run that saw three FAMU errors.
The Lady Rattlers drew the margin as close as five at 14-9 on a kill by Maria Ceccarelli, but the Lady Flames continued their dominance at the net, receiving kills from Thomas and Racz and getting a Gebben solo block and a block by Racz and Rollins to earn an 18-10 edge. Gabrielle Shipe and Gebben served up late aces, and Craycraft posted a kill to seal the 25-15 win. Liberty closed the set on a 7-5 surge to gain a 1-0 advantage in the match.
The Lady Flames registered 13 kills at a .524 pace in set one, and held FAMU to eight kills at an efficiency of .000. Happel led all players with four kills during the first set, while Rollins and Racz notched two block assists each.
The teams traded points during the opening stages of set two, yielding a 6-6 score after 12 serves. Happel registered a kill to return Liberty into the lead, and a Rattlers error made it 8-6. Florida A&M surged ahead, 9-8, with a three-point burst that featured two kills by Marija Jovanovic. Trailing 11-9, Thomas sent down a kill and aided Racz on a block to tie the set at 11. A 3-1 spurt by FAMU, by way of three Liberty errors, put the Rattlers in the lead, 14-12, prompting a Liberty timeout.
A Happel kill aided a Liberty comeback from a 16-13 deficit, and Craycraft tied it at 16 and then again at 17 with a pair of kills. FAMU misfired on an attack attempt, and the Lady Flames retook the lead, 18-17. The Lady Rattlers surged ahead, 22-21, on a Ceccarelli service ace that capped a 3-0 run and spurred a Lady Flames timeout. Happel and Thomas posted kills while FAMU served, and Kelly Haseman served an ace to bring Liberty a set-point opportunity. FAMU staved off defeat with a kill, but Liberty took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 26-24 win.
Liberty continued its strong attack, hitting .342 to .190 for Florida A&M, as both teams sent down 16 kills. Happel totaled a set-high six kills, and Haseman collected nine digs. Ceccarelli and Jovanovic added four kills apiece form the Rattlers.
The Lady Flames scored 10 out of the first 15 points of set three, with Gebben tallying four kills to enter double figures for the match and Craycraft, Thomas and Happel adding one kill apiece. The Liberty run continued after a FAMU timeout, and the team held a 12-5 advantage. Kills by Ceccarelli and Pamela Barrera trimmed their team's deficit to five at 13-8, and a Rattlers block made it 13-9.
Florida A&M battled back from a 15-9 score with a 4-0 surge to make it 15-13 and draw a timeout from Liberty. Gebben ended the rally with a kill, and Liberty later went up by five, 18-13. The Rattlers posted a three-point run, pulling to within two, 18-16, before a block by Gebben and Rollins quelled the momentum for the time being. FAMU inched closer, and a kill by Katherine Huanec left the score at 20-19. Liberty closed out the match on its third match-point try, winning set three, 25-22 on a Happel kill.
Liberty out-hit Florida A&M, .222 to .118 in set three, as the Lady Flames posted five team blocks.
Happel's 13 kills led all players, and Gebben added Liberty's first solo block of the season to her 11 kills. Haseman recorded a season-high 14 digs. Rollins paced Liberty with five block assists, and Racz added four. Craycraft led the way with 30 assists.
Florida A&M was led by 10 kills from Jovanovic. Karol Marquez posted 13 digs, and Diana Gonzalez totaled 29 assists.
Happel was named to 2011 Hotel Indigo Bulldog Invitational All-Tournament Team for her play on the weekend.
Liberty will next be in action Wednesday, as the Lady Flames play against Oregon in a 4 p.m. match, hosted by American in Washington, D.C. The Lady Rattlers return to the court Sept. 4 with a home-opening contest against Jacksonville.