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VCU Downs Liberty in Straight Sets
VCU earned a 3-0 victory (25-21, 25-15, 25-22) over Liberty Tuesday in non-conference volleyball action at the Vines Center.
The Rams (8-12) ended Liberty's 12-match home winning streak, as the Lady Flames (9-11) had not lost inside the Vines Center since Oct. 1, 2010 versus Winthrop. It was Liberty's third-longest winning streak at home since 1989.
Both teams utilized a balanced attack, as no player on either side entered double-figures in kills. VCU posted 11 team blocks, helping hold Liberty to a .032 attack percentage, while the Rams attacked at a .216 pace.
Kelly Haseman led four Lady Flames in double-digits with 12 digs, surpassing 1,750 digs for her career. Jade Craycraft dished out 25 assists, and she has now eclipsed the 1,750 career assist mark.
VCU quickly turned a 4-1 deficit into a 10-5 lead in set one, using a 6-0 run to double Liberty's score. The Rams recorded four out of their first 10 points by way of blocks. The Lady Flames chipped away at the deficit, getting kills from several different players, and Liberty drew to within two, 20-18, following a VCU error.
Melissa Racz, Lillie Happel and Ansley Gebben each earned kills while VCU served, leaving the score at 23-21. Cecilia Aragao then sent down a kill and ended set one with an ace on the next serve.
The Rams took a 1-0 lead with a 25-21 victory in set one, hitting .281, compared to .118 for Liberty. The visitors recorded five blocks, with Jasmine Waters assisting on four. Racz and Happel registered three kills apiece for the Lady Flames.
Similarly to set one, VCU overcame an early deficit to storm out to a 10-7 advantage in the second stanza. The guests then staged a 7-0 run, receiving kills from Kristin Boyd, Courtney Hott and Jessica Ojukwu and a block by Hott and Boyd during the rally. Thomas and Craycraft responded with kills, and a Thomas-Gebben block capped a 3-0 rally. VCU scored the next four points to gain a 21-10 lead, and claimed set two, 25-15, to take a 2-0 lead into intermission.
VCU posted a .206 attack percentage in the second set, while Liberty hit -.073, committing 12 attack errors. The Rams added four blocks during set two. Craycraft and Ojukwu had three kills each for their respective teams.
Liberty maintained the advantage into the middle stages of the third set. Craycraft and Racz assisted on back-to-back Lady Flames blocks, aiding Liberty's 6-2 start. The Rams trailed 10-6 before going on a 12-4 skein to take an 18-14 lead. Four VCU players scored kills during the rally, while Hott registered blocks on two out of six Liberty attack errors.
Facing a 24-17 deficit, the Lady Flames battled back with a 5-0 run, as Happel and Thomas sent down kills and then teamed up on a block. VCU then ended the match with a kill from Anett Farkas, winning set three, 25-22.
The Rams recorded 14 kills during set three, with Liberty earning 13 kills. The Lady Flames posted 4.5 team blocks. Hott led all players with five set-three kills.
Thomas led Liberty in kills for the second match in a row, connecting for eight kills. Thomas, Racz, Crayraft and Happel had three blocks each. Happel, Gabrielle Shipe and Becca Haraf collected 10 digs apiece.
VCU's Hott and Boyd tied for the match high with nine kills apiece. Aragao led all players with 27 assists, while Amanda Friday served as the digs leader with 13. Jasmine Waters posted six blocks, while Hott earned five blocks.
Liberty returns to conference play this weekend, hosting Coastal Carolina Friday at 7 p.m. before a 2 p.m. match against Charleston Southern Saturday at the Vines Center. VCU will play its next four matches at home, starting with matches Friday and Saturday against Towson and Delaware, respectively.