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Liberty Claims Home Invitational Over CSUB

September 10, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Liberty Lady Flames celebrate their title at the 2011 Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi, the team's first tournament championship of the season.

Liberty recorded its third 3-0 sweep in two days, downing CSU Bakersfield 26-24, 25-8, 25-16 on Saturday to claim the championship at the 2011 Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi. The Lady Flames have gone undefeated at their home invitational for the first time since a 3-0 showing in 1997.

Both Liberty (4-6) and CSUB (3-7) entered the match unbeaten in their first two matches on the weekend, setting up a showdown for the championship.

Lady Flames sophomore outside hitter Lillie Happel was honored as the tournament MVP, leading the event with eight aces while finishing second with a 4.11 kills per set average. Liberty teammate Jade Craycraft was also named to the all-tournament team.

Libero Kelly Haseman passed Liberty Athletics Hall of Fame member Theresa Bream (1987-90) into second place all-time at Liberty for digs. Haseman, with seven digs Saturday, has now posted 1,643 digs on her career.

The Roadrunners claimed early momentum in set one, taking a 7-4 lead after a block by Tika Smith and Julia Bowen, and Liberty took a timeout. Liberty edged into the lead at 15-13, as Ansley Gebben sent down three kills in a 7-4 run for the Lady Flames. CSUB regained the advantage, 17-16, on a kill by Saelina Dunn after two kills from Smith. The teams battled back and forth until the Roadrunners took a 22-19 lead with a 3-0 run.

Liberty emerged from the timeout by scoring the next four points on a Becca Haraf ace and three CSUB errors, taking a 23-22 lead. The Roadrunners fought off a set point try at 24-23, but Gebben clinched set one, 26-24, with her fourth kill of the opening session.

CSU Bakersfield totaled five team blocks during set one, with Bowen assisting on three rejections. Haratyk notched a set-high six kills and CSUB hit .159. The Lady Flames hit .182 during the first set.

Liberty surged ahead early with a 6-0 run to build a 9-2 lead in the second set, with five of those points coming while Happel served. The Lady Flames ran out to a 16-4 advantage, prompting a CSUB timeout. The home team closed strongly to the finish line, taking set two, 25-8 to earn a 2-0 lead in the match.

Liberty's 25-8 win during set two was its largest margin of victory in a single set since a 25-7 victory during set one of its season-opening win over UNC Greensboro Aug. 28, 2009.

The hosts posted three team blocks in the second set and attacked at a .316 clip. Thomas led all players with three kills on five swings. CSUB hit -.154 during the middle stanza.

Set three remained closely played into its middle stages, with CSU Bakersfield drawing the deficit to one point at 13-12 after a Molly O'Hagan block. Thomas then posted a kill and a solo block to boost the Liberty lead to 15-12. The Lady Flames went on a 4-0 run to earn a 19-13 edge, with Happel recording a kill and an ace during the rally. The Lady Flames clinched the match and tournament championship with a kill from Happel on match point, 25-16.

Liberty hit .304 during the third set and added three team blocks, while CSUB attacked at a -.031 pace.

For the match, Liberty hit .253 compared with .020 for the Roadrunners. The Lady Flames posted nine team blocks to CSUB's seven and held a 40-30 edge in digs.

Gebben led the Lady Flames with nine kills, hitting .350 for the match while adding six digs and a season-high-tying three blocks. Haraf paced both teams with a season-best 13 digs. Thomas totaled four blocks (one solo, three assists). Craycraft added a match-high 22 assists, seven digs and three blocks. Happel registered two aces and Kendle Rollins earned three block assists.

The Roadrunners' Haratyk finished off her tournament-leading kills performance with 11 kills to lead all players. Dunn recorded nine digs, while O'Hagan and Bowen had four blocks apiece.

The Lady Flames return to action next Friday, opening the Wolfpack Invitational with a 7 p.m. match against the host N.C. State team. CSU Bakersfield travels to Stockton, Calif., where the Roadrunners will compete in the Hilton Stockton Invitational, hosted by Pacific Friday and Saturday.

2011 Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi
All-Tournament Team
Lillie Happel, Liberty (MVP)
Jade Craycraft, Liberty

Haleigh Haratyk, CSU Bakersfield
Lauren Holderman, CSU Bakersfield
Elizabeth Williams, Saint Francis (Pa.)
Jaclyn Webber, Rider