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JMU Claims Tight 3-1 Match From Liberty
Liberty and James Madison split Tuesday's first two sets before the Dukes earned a 3-1 victory (26-24, 24-26, 25-20, 25-22) over the visiting Lady Flames at Sinclair Gymnasium.
The match was tight throughout, with 40 ties and 16 lead changes. Liberty (5-9) posted 11 team blocks and a season-high 85 digs, while James Madison (9-4) totaled 83 digs on the evening.
Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft both earned double-doubles for the Lady Flames, as Happel recorded 15 kills and 15 digs and Craycraft added 24 assists and a career-high 14 digs.
Kelly Haseman collected a season-high 26 digs, becoming the eighth player in Big South history with 1,700 career digs.
Loren Thomas entered the top 10 at Liberty in blocks, totaling five on Tuesday to give the junior 245 rejections for her career.
Liberty engineered a 6-0 rally to open a 13-8 lead in set one. Following a block by Melissa Racz and Thomas, Craycraft served up an ace to give the guests their five-point cushion. The Dukes later staged a three-point run, pulling to within one point at 15-14. The hosts regained the lead, 19-18, courtesy of a 4-0 burst that Holly Wall capped with an ace.
Happel sent down a pair of kills, and Liberty led, 21-19, when JMU called its second timeout. Natalie Abel responded with two kills of her own, including one to even the set at 22-22. JMU fended off set point with a kill at 24-23, and Martha Stewart closed set one, 26-24, in the Dukes' favor, with a service ace.
James Madison held a 16-10 advantage in kills during the opening set, hitting .130 to .083 for Liberty. The Lady Flames posted four team blocks, with Kendle Rollins assisting on three. Abel led all players with five first-set kills. Happel posted four kills during the first set.
In set two, back-to-back Liberty blocks sparked a 4-0 rally that sent the visitors into the lead at 13-9. The Lady Flames built a 17-10 lead following a kill by Rollins and a Gabrielle Shipe ace. JMU then went on a quick three-point rally, trimming the deficit to four, 17-13.
Liberty won the race to 20, with a Happel kill giving the Lady Flames a 20-15 lead. Abel tied the score with an ace, 21-21. The guests reclaimed the lead at 22-21 on an attack error, but kills by Abel and Danielle Erb regained a 23-22 advantage for JMU. Ansley Gebben and Craycraft attacked for back-to-back kills to yield a 24-23 Liberty edge. The Lady Flames won set two, 26-24, tying the match at 1-1, as a pair of Dukes errors ended the set.
The Lady Flames hit .171 in the second session, while the Dukes attacked at a .082 pace. Liberty added three blocks and 23 digs. Haseman posted nine digs in set two.
The Dukes led by as many as three points, 10-7, early in set three but their lead was erased by kills from Happel and Gebben and a Happel ace. The two teams traded momentum, yielding a 16-16 score during the set's middle stages. James Madison took an 18-16 lead on kills by Kristi Richardson and Holly Wall, leading to a Liberty timeout.
Thomas sent down a kill out of the huddle, but the Dukes scored the ensuing three points for a 21-17 edge. Happel earned a kill, and a James Madison error made the score 21-19. Liberty sliced the deficit to two again at 22-20 on an Erica Manor kill, but Maguire won set three for JMU with a kill, giving the Dukes a 2-1 lead.
Both teams continued their strong defensive effort in set three, with Liberty collecting 30 digs to JMU's 29. Happel had five kills and seven digs during the third set.
Liberty ran out to a 10-6 advantage during set four, with consecutive Craycraft kills leading to an early JMU timeout. James Madison emerged from the huddle with a 4-0 rally to even the set at 10-all. Happel earned Liberty's next three points with kills, good for a 13-11 edge. Maguire tied the set, 17-17, with a kill. Happel sent down a kill to set the score at 20-18. After a two-point JMU burst knotted the score at 20-20, Liberty reclaimed the lead, 22-20, on a kill by Thomas and a Thomas-Manor block.
James Madison staged a 4-0 rally to gain a pair of match-point opportunities, and won the match, 25-22, with an ace ending the 3-1 win for the Dukes.
The home side hit .286 during the decisive fourth set, compared with .257 for Liberty. Erb sent down six kills during the frame, while Happel notched five kills.
Liberty posted 47 kills on the evening, while hitting .134. Gebben joined Happel in double-figures with 11 kills in addition to nine digs. Rollins assisted on four blocks, while Thomas had nine kills.
JMU earned 61 kills at a .159 clip, led by Erb's match-high 20 kills. Abel posted 11 kills and tied Katie Daorai for the team lead with 18 digs. Megan Weichmann tallied a double-double with 29 assists and 16 digs.
Liberty returns to action Friday at 7 p.m., opening the Big South schedule at Radford. James Madison will face William and Mary Friday to begin CAA competition.