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Liberty Rallies From 2-0 Down to Beat Radford

October 28, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Freshman Melissa Racz tied her career high with 12 kills Friday, and assisted on two blocks during the decisive fifth set.

Liberty erased a 2-0 deficit in posting a 3-2 victory (23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-16, 15-5) over visiting Radford Friday in the Vines Center. The Lady Flames remained atop Big South standings with their fifth straight win, extending several other winning streaks in the process.

Liberty (14-11, 9-1 Big South) has now defeated Radford (11-14, 5-5) in 21 straight meetings. The Lady Flames have won 12 straight five-set matches over conference opponents, including four this season. Liberty also holds a 12-match conference home winning streak.

The Lady Flames' last win after trailing, 2-0, came Nov. 19, 2010, a 3-2 win over Winthrop in the Big South Championship semifinal.

The two teams opened their Big South schedule against each other, with Liberty prevailing, 3-2, Sept. 23 at the Dedmon Center.

On Friday, Lady Flames senior libero Kelly Haseman tied for the match high with 20 digs. She passed Carrie O'Connell of Charleston Southern (1991-94) into fifth place in Big South history with 1,845 career digs.

Loren Thomas sent down 11 kills and posted nine block assists, helping Liberty to a 12-10 advantage in blocks over Radford. Thomas moved past Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Theresa Bream (1987-90), and is now tied with Ashley Webber (2005-08) for fifth place all-time at Liberty with 318 career blocks.

Lillie Happel recorded a double-double with 12 kills and 13 digs. Melissa Racz tied her career high with 12 kills, hitting .346 while posting her third double-digit kill match in the last five contests.

Liberty served up a season-best 11 aces on Friday, including four from Jade Craycraft.

The hosts built a 19-16 lead during set one, after staging a 3-0 run that included a kill by Erica Manor and a Craycraft ace, prompting a Radford timeout. The Highlanders drew even at 19-19 by scoring the next three points.

After six straight sideouts, Emily Carlin served up an ace for a 23-22 Radford advantage. Following a service error, Rachel Wiechecki and Emma Deininger clinched set one for Radford, 25-23, with back-to-back kills.

Wiechecki recorded five kills during set one, and Radford held a .116 to .053 advantage in hitting percentage.

Radford took control early in the second set, leading 12-8 after a block by Carly Fleming and Jesse Miedema. Thomas posted a block and a kill during a 4-0 run, as Liberty tied the set, 12-12. The Highlanders pulled out to a 17-13 lead, which Liberty narrowed to 2-0, 20-18, following a Thomas-Ansley Gebben block. Radford closed the set on a 5-1 run, recording a pair of blocks during the final five points to earn a 25-19, set-two win.

Radford hit .286 during set two, compared to .037 by the Lady Flames. Wiechecki added five more kills to her five from set one. Craycraft earned two aces for Liberty.

Trailing, 2-0, the Lady Flames built an 18-11 lead during set three, as Happel, Thomas, Racz and Gebben all recorded multiple kills in the early going. Radford trimmed the deficit to three points, at 23-20, following a Liberty error. Racz then provided the Lady Flames with set point, and the hosts gained a 25-20 victory in set three after a Radford miscue ended the set.

Liberty sent down 16 kills during the third set, hitting .195, while Radford connected for 11 kills at a .139 pace. Racz registered five kills for the Lady Flames, while Deininger had four kills.

Set four opened with the teams playing to a 12-12 tie after 24 serves.  Liberty scored the next two points on a Craycraft ace and a Happel kill, and the Lady Flames stayed ahead for the remainder of the set.

Deininger posted a kill which pulled the visitors to within one, 16-15.  However, The Lady Flames posted three blocks and Gabrielle Shipe registered two service aces from that point on, as Liberty went on a 9-1 run to earn a 25-16 victory and force a fifth set.

The Lady Flames recorded five blocks during the fourth stanza, holding Radford to a .061 attack percentage while hitting .250. Thomas assisted on four blocks, and Happel sent down four kills for Liberty.

Liberty continued its strong play in the fifth set, attacking at a .500 pace while earning seven kills on 14 attempts with no errors. The Lady Flames quickly built an 8-3 lead going into the changeover. Radford inched no closer than six points behind, and a Racz-Manor block clinched the 15-5 victory, giving the Lady Flames a 3-2, come-from-behind triumph.

Racz and Manor assisted on both Liberty blocks during the final set, while Racz was one of three Lady Flames with two set-five kills.

For the match, Liberty hit .169, compared to .119 for Radford. The Highlanders won the dig battle, 68-62, and recorded 54 kills to Liberty's 50.

Jade Craycraft dished out 40 assists in addition to seven kills, and tied her career high with four aces. Erica Manor recorded six block assists, matching her career high in blocks. Shipe collected nine digs and earned two aces, while Haseman had two aces as well. Gebben checked in with seven kills, six digs and four blocks.

Radford's Wiechecki tied for the match lead with 14 kills, and added 11 digs for a double-double. Leigh Myers registered a double-double with 23 assists and 10 digs, while Rachel Brummitt recorded 20 digs. Deininger and Emily Hayes each posted 11 kills.

Friday night served as Liberty's "Dig Pink" breast cancer awareness match. The Lady Flames wore pink warmup shirts in support of the cause, and educational material was made available to those in attendance.
 
Liberty remains in Lynchburg, where the Lady Flames will host Campbell, Friday at 7 p.m., before wrapping up the home portion of the schedule next Saturday against High Point. Friday's match versus Campbell will be contested at Liberty Christian Academy.