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Wolfpack Down Lady Flames in Three Sets
The N.C. State Wolfpack defeated visiting Liberty, 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-19) Friday at Reynolds Coliseum in both teams' first match at the Courtyard Midtown Invitational.
With the win, N.C. State‘s 10th in a row, the Wolfpack now hold a 10-1 record. Liberty is now 4-7 following Friday's result that halted their three-match winning streak. N.C. State hit .240 for the match, compared to a .100 efficiency from the Lady Flames.
Liberty's Kelly Haseman tied for the match lead with 12 digs, pushing her into ninth place in Big South history with 1,655 career digs. She passed Brett Starbuck of Coastal Carolina (2005-08) on Friday.
In the first set, N.C. State opened up a four-point lead at 8-4, as Luciana Shafer and Nicole Glass each sent down two kills. The Lady Flames received kills from five different players on their first seven points scored. A kill by Kendle Rollins brought Liberty to within three at 10-7. Loren Thomas then posted a big solo block to trim the deficit to two, 11-9. However, the Wolfpack scored the ensuing seven points to build an 18-9 advantage.
Happel quelled the rally with a kill, and added a service ace and another winner to slice the deficit to 18-12. The Lady Flames put together a 3-0 rally, getting kills from Happel and Jade Craycraft to make the score 20-16. N.C. State converted on its first set point chance, winning 25-19 on a Rachel Buckley kill.
Liberty hit .091 as a team during set one, and was led by Happel's four kills. Haseman added seven digs. The Wolfpack posted a .220 attack percentage, with three players tallying four or more kills.
The Wolfpack surged out to an 11-4 lead with a 7-1 run during set two, prompting a Liberty timeout. Shafer registered three kills during the hosts' early charge to a 12-4 advantage. Trailing 13-6, the Lady Flames reeled off the next four points, featuring kills by Rollins and Gebben and a Shipe ace. The teams sided out successfully for the next six serves, and the visitors pulled to within two, 17-15, on a kill by Melissa Racz.
A block from Brie Merriwether and Megan Cyr staked N.C. State to a 19-15 edge, drawing a timeout from Lady Flames head coach Pinder. Liberty continued to battle, trading rally points until N.C. State pulled away with a late 5-1 surge to win the second set, 25-18 and take a 2-0 match lead.
N.C. State matched its first-set total with 16 kills during the second set, hitting .270 to .108 for the Lady Flames. Rollins led the Lady Flames with three kills, while Merriwether and Shafer posted four apiece for the Wolfpack.
Liberty led 3-1 after four serves of set three, before N.C. State turned the tide with a 6-0 rally. The Wolfpack earned a 13-5 advantage on back-to-back kills by Merriwether. A Liberty block and Craycraft kill pulled the Lady Flames to within six, 13-7. Thomas ended a long rally with a solo block, slicing the deficit to six, 18-12. A pair of Wolfpack errors set the score at 18-14, yielding an N.C. State timeout.
An error by Glass made it 19-16, and Thomas sent down a kill for a 20-17 tally. The Lady Flames got as close as three one more time, at 21-18, before N.C. State scored a 4-1 run for a 25-19 set three win to clinch the match.
Merriwether led a balanced N.C. State attack in set three, posting five kills, as the Wolfpack earned 17 third-set kills to eight for Liberty.
For the match, Rollins led the Lady Flames with eight kills, hitting .357 while adding three block assists. Thomas posted a career-high-tying three solo blocks, in addition to one block assist. She also recorded her 500th career kill during Friday's match. Becca Haraf totaled nine digs and an ace.
Glass registered a match-high 10 kills for the victors, followed by Buckley, Merriwether and Shafer with nine kills each, as N.C. State out-hit Liberty, 49 kills to 27. Cyr recorded 39 assists to lead all players, while Kelly Wood tied Haseman for the match lead with 12 digs.
Liberty will next compete Saturday morning at 11 a.m., taking on Towson. The Wolfpack return to the court for a 1 p.m. match Saturday versus The Citadel.