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WMU Earns Three-Set Win Over Lady Flames
Western Michigan posted a 3-0 (25-16, 25-19, 25-22) win over visiting Liberty Saturday at the Holiday Inn West Invitational in Kalamazoo, Mich. The Lady Flames (1-5), rallied late in set three, but the Broncos (4-1) held them off to secure the win.
Liberty's Kelly Haseman led the visitors' defense, recording 19 of her team's 53 digs to pass current assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden (2001-04) and move into third all-time at Liberty with 1,597 career digs. Lena Oliver posted a match-high 34 digs, helping Western Michigan collect 85 digs.
Western Michigan used a 4-0 run to take a 6-4 lead in the opening set, prompting a Liberty timeout. Ali Gossen posted four early kills to help the Broncos edge ahead, 8-5. Courtney Boggs sent down a kill to end WMU's 11-2 rally, setting the score at 13-7. The Lady Flames continued to chip away at the deficit, pulling to within five points, 16-11, on a kill by Lillie Happel. WMU built its lead to seven, 20-13, as a kill by Terin Norris led to another timeout by Liberty head coach Shane Pinder. The home team surged to the finish, clinching set one, 25-16 on an Ashley Turnage kill.
The Lady Flames recorded seven kills and eight attack errors in set one, while Kendle Rollins led Liberty with a 3-for-4 attack performance. WMU hit .182 for the set, as Gossen and Gillian Asque each had four of the Broncos' 13 kills.
The teams traded the first eight serves of set two, as each team fought to establish a rhythm. Happel gave Liberty the lead at 9-8 with a kill, and a Rollins kill capped a 3-0 rally for an 11-8 edge. The Lady Flames built their advantage to five, 16-11, getting back-to-back kills by Melissa Racz and Loren Thomas.
The Broncos tied the set at 18 with a 4-0 run, as Jessica Brown earned a kill directly prior to Liberty timeout. Western Michigan pulled into the lead on kills by Claire Gerwig and Brown, and three consecutive WMU blocks made it, 24-19. A Norris kill ended set two, as the Broncos took a 2-0 led with a 25-19 win, closing on a 13-2 run.
Set two saw both defenses step up. WMU posted 31 digs to Liberty's 23. The Lady Flames recorded a four blocks to three advantage. The Broncos' Lena Oliver totaled 13 digs, and Kelly Haseman had 11 digs in the set.
The home squad surged to a 7-3 lead in set three. Haseman tied up the set at seven apiece with an ace, following up kills by Gebben and Rollins and a Melissa Racz solo block. Western Michigan scored the ensuing five points, including a pair of kills by Asque, yielding a Liberty timeout. Trailing 16-10, Liberty responded with kills from Happel and Thomas.
The Lady Flames closed to within four again at 18-14 on a Happel winner. The Broncos led, 24-18, until Liberty reeled off four straight points on kills by Thomas and Happel and two blocks. WMU scored the final point for the sweep, winning set three, 25-22.
For the match, Liberty hit .052 with 27 kills, while Western Michigan attacked at a .163 efficiency, earning 45 kills.
Happel's nine kills led Liberty, and she added 12 digs. Haseman added an ace to her 19 digs. Boggs paced the Lady Flames with a season-high 19 assists. Rollins hit .385 in sending down six kills.
Norris posted a double-double for WMU with 37 assists and 13 digs. Gossen added 10 digs to her eight kills. Asque finished with 10 kills, while Brown and Turnage had nine each.
Liberty will compete against North Carolina at 5 p.m. Saturday to wrap up its participation at the Holiday Inn West Invitational. Western Michigan will face Seton Hall at 7 to conclude the event.