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Lady Flames Take Five-Game Thriller From Birmingham-Southern

October 28, 2006
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Kendall Nichols had a double-double in Saturday's win.

Kendall Nichols had a double-double in Saturday's win.

Liberty freshman setter Kallie Corbin and sophomore outside hitters Kendall Nichols and Alysson Sanders came up with clutch performances, leading the Lady Flames to a 3-2 (30-28, 30-24, 21-30, 21-30, 15-12) victory over the Birmingham-Southern Panthers Saturday afternoon at the Vines Center. 

Corbin posted her second career triple-double (10 kills, 45 assists and 14 digs), while Nichols (15 kills and 14 digs) and Sanders (16 kills and 12 digs) notched double-doubles. Their efforts helped the Lady Flames complete a weekend conference sweep. Liberty is now 6-0 all-time against Birmingham-Southern at the Vines Center. 

Liberty, which defeated UNC Asheville in four games Friday night, is now 9-15 overall. The Lady Flames remain in third place in the Big South Conference standings with a 7-4 league mark. The Panthers, tied with the Lady Flames for third place in the conference before the weekend began, fall to 5-5 in Big South play and 8-15 overall despite 21-kill performances by Sarah Harris and Michelle Maciejewski, a 68-assist effort by Milica Stojanovic and a 35-dig afternoon by Alex Norten. 

The visitors actually enjoyed an advantage in many statistical categories, including attack percentage (.230 to .168) and digs (86 to 74). However, the Lady Flames were more effective with their serve and made enough timely plays to pull out the victory. 

Serving played a key role in each of the first two games, both Liberty wins. The Lady Flames posted three service aces and took advantage of a trio of Panther service errors in their 30-28 game one triumph. Corbin (Beaverton, Ore.) recorded two of those aces and was also effective dumping the ball over the net for kills. Her third kill of the afternoon ended a tightly-contested first game. 

Corbin got the Lady Flames off to a flying start in the second game, serving for three-consecutive aces to give the home team a 3-0 advantage. Liberty led wire-to-wire in the game, wrapping up a 30-24 decision on a powerful kill by Sanders (Bear, Del.). Autum Black (Sr., MB, Mingoville, Pa.) played a key role in the game two victory, tallying four kills on a .667 attack percentage and having a hand in three blocks. 

It was Nichols (Hoover, Ala.) who came out of the intermission with the hot hand for Liberty. She notched four kills during a game-opening 10-5 run. The Panthers then turned the tide with a 15-3 run. Maciejewski had two of her game-high seven kills during that burst. The freshman then provided back-to-back kills to finish up a 30-21 win for the visitors in game three. 

Maciejewski's classmate Harris was the key player in game four, tallying nine kills and seven digs in the stanza. One of her kills gave the Panthers the lead for good at 12-11. Birmingham-Southern went on to claim a 30-21 win and force a fifth and deciding game. 

The fifth game opened with a kill by Sanders, giving Liberty a lead it never relinquished. A Rachel Denton (Sr., MB, Burnet, Texas) put the Lady Flames up by six, 13-7. The Panthers made one more run, closing the gap to 14-12 on a block by Stojanovic and Casey Demos. Mary Alice Pike (Jr., RS, Durham, N.C.) then put the visitors away with her 10th kill of the afternoon and her third of the final game. 

Pike posted a solid all-around statistical performance, complementing her 10 kills with nine digs, seven blocks and six assists. Black totaled seven blocks of her own. Lara Bartolomeo (Jr., S/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) went over the 20-dig mark for the 10th time this season, ending up with 23. 

Morgan Anderson added 14 kills on a .344 attack percentage for Birmingham-Southern. Casey Demos chipped in with 11 kills and six blocks (one solo, five assists). 

Liberty, now 5-1 at home this season, has three matches remaining on its current homestand. The Lady Flames will host conference-leading Winthrop on Friday. Match time is set for 7 p.m. Birmingham-Southern plays at Radford Sunday at 2 p.m.