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Sixth-Seeded Chanticleers Upend Third-Seeded Lady Flames In First Round of Big South Volleyball Championship
With the victory, Coastal Carolina improves to 10-22 on the season and advances to a semifinal match-up with second-seeded UNC Asheville who downed seventh-seeded Radford, 3-0, earlier in the evening.
The semifinal and championship rounds will be played at High Point on Friday and Saturday with the Chanticleers squaring off against the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The loss ends Liberty's season as the Lady Flames finish the year with an 11-18 mark.
In the opening game, neither team gained much of an advantage as the match was tied 6-6 early on, but Coastal Carolina took advantage of three-straight Liberty hitting errors to open up a slight margin.
Block assists by Ashley Scheible and Nakia Thompson on an Alysson Sanders attack, followed by a Thompson kill gave the Chanticleers an eight-point lead, 20-12, which they never relinquish as they hit .378 as a squad to claim the 30-21 opening game win.
Coastal Carolina continued to carry the momentum into the second game as the Chanticleers scored six of the game's first seven points, opening up a 6-1 lead on a kill by Kristin Rinne. Liberty slowly closed the gap over the next several plays and tied the game at 19-19 on a hitting error by Meagan Tracey.
The game remained close until Coastal Carolina closed by claiming six of the final eight points to take a two-game lead into the intermission after the 30-25 game win.
However, the break seemed to benefit the homestanding Lady Flames as Liberty came out strong in the third as a kill by Kendall Nichols gave the squad a 7-4 lead.
Coastal Carolina shortly thereafter tied the game on a service ace by Rinne, but Liberty scored seven of the next nine points, capped by an Ashley Webber kill to take a lead and ride it to a 30-24 third-game victory. Liberty finished the game hitting .304 as a team, its best game of the evening.
The fourth and final game was as close as it could be as neither team held more than a two-point edge until Coastal Carolina reeled off five-straight points to open up a 25-19 lead. Liberty got within three, 26-23, after block assists by first-team all-conference honoree Autum Black and Nichols, but a pair of kills by Thompson aided in the Chanticleers closing out the upset with the 30-25 win.
Thompson led the Chanticleers on the night as she recorded 18 kills and 15 digs along with a .428 attack percentage. Big South All-Freshman selection Jill Nyhof led the squad with 21 kills and added 10 digs and Laura Obert chipped in with 10 kills. Brett Starbuck tied Thompson for the team lead with 15 digs and Tracey led the team with 49 assists.
Liberty was led by Black as the senior closed out her playing days at Liberty with 18 kills, five block assists and a .484 hitting percentage. Nichols finished the year with a double-double as she had 10 kills and 10 digs and Big South Freshman of the Year Kallie Corbin finished with a match-high 51 assists, eight digs and four block assists.
Coach's Postgame Quotes
Kristen Bauer, Coastal Carolina head volleyball coach
We knew we would have to climb a ladder tonight as you normally do against a host team. They beat us twice this year and even when we we were up two, we knew we didn't have it won as they had just come from two down against Radford over the weekend. Our seniors played great tonight as Nakia Thompson played well offensively and Brett Starbuck did a great job defensively. We won some key points at the net and our block effort was especially sharp tonight.
Shane Pinder, Liberty head volleyball coach
All the credit has to go to Kristen [Bauer] and what she has done with the Coastal Carolina volleyball program. They did a great job and we wish them the best of the luck as they move on in this year's tournament.