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East Tennessee State Spoils Liberty's Senior Night With 3-2 Triumph
Liberty, now 10-17 overall, finishes its six-match homestand at 3-3 despite Black's (Mingoville, Pa.) efforts. Also going for naught was freshman setter Kallie Corbin's (Beaverton, Ore.) third triple-double of the season. She tallied 11 kills, 48 assists, 20 digs and six block assists.
East Tennessee State recorded its 16th-straight win and improved to 25-5 overall on the strength of some gaudy individual numbers. Libero Kaena Apana set a Vines Center record with 41 digs. Jennifer Sartor added 29 kills on a .368 attack percentage, as well as 17 digs and six blocks. Meanwhile, setter Jennifer Emerson ended the evening with 77 assists.
Sophomore middle blocker Ashley Webber (Lakeside, Calif.) helped the Lady Flames get off to a fast start, recording three kills and two block assists during a match-opening 11-5 run for the home team. The Buccaneers came back to take the lead by two points on several occasions, including a 27-25 advantage after a Sartor kill.
After that kill, the score would be tied eight times before Liberty finally ended game one on a block by Corbin and Black. The 36-34 victory came in the Lady Flames' longest game of the season. The two teams hit an identical .246 during game one.
It was East Tennessee State who was hot in the early stages of the second game. Crystal Palmer had three of her 21 kills during an 8-2 run to start the stanza. Liberty answered with an 8-2 run of its own to knot the game at 10-all. An attack error gave the Lady Flames the lead for good at 15-14. Corbin ended the home team's 30-26 victory with a dump for a kill.
Liberty looked to be well on its way to a three-game victory after a block by Corbin and Webber made the score, 15-8 in favor of the Lady Flames. The match's momentum began shifting during an ensuing 13-2 East Tennessee State burst. Three of Sarah Buhr's 19 kills came during that flurry that ended with the Buccaneers on top, 21-17.
The Lady Flames got back within two points (24-22) on an ace by Mary Alice Pike (Jr., RS, Durham, N.C.), but ETSU scored six of the next eight points to win game three and cut Liberty's lead to 2-1. Buhr punctuated the 30-24 win with another kill.
East Tennessee State took a 10-9 lead early in game four and held onto the advantage the rest of the way in a 30-18 triumph. Crystal Palmer served up back-to-back aces to close out the game that saw the visitors hit .333.
Sartor took control of game five for East Tennessee State. She hit .833 during the game and posted five kills, one of which came on the opening point. Liberty was forced to play from behind during the entire game and the Buccaneers were able to complete their comeback with a 15-13 victory. Buhr ended the match with a kill, enabling the Atlantic Sun Conference champions to leave the Vines Center with a hard-fought victory.
Kendall Nichols (So., OH, Hoover, Ala.) led the Lady Flames with 14 kills and made it a double-double by adding 15 digs. Webber contributed a career-high 13 kills and six block assists. Lara Bartolomeo (Jr., S/DS, Huntington Beach, Calif.) came up with 23 digs, eclipsing the 20-dig mark for the fifth-straight time. As a team, Liberty totaled a season-best 18 blocks.
Callie Kiselich posted a double-double, ending up with 11 kills and 19 digs. Buhr complemented her kill total with seven digs.
Liberty will close its regular season schedule with a trip to Radford (8-17, 4-9 BSC) on Saturday. The match will begin at 2 p.m. The Lady Flames swept the Highlanders, 3-0, on Sept. 23.
East Tennessee State will seek its 17th-consecutive triumph at Radford on Monday at 7 p.m.