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Lady Flames Sweep NCCU for First Win of 2012
Liberty swept the host North Carolina Central Eagles (25-20, 25-15, 25-18) on Friday, hitting .438 to secure the Lady Flames' first win of the 2012 season.
With the win, the Lady Flames even their season record at 1-1 entering the second day of the North Carolina Central Tournament. NCCU is now 0-2 after falling to UNCG and Liberty on Friday.
Friday's win gave ninth-year Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder his 150th career victory. He is the sixth head coach in Big South history, and second at Liberty, to reach 150 career coaching wins.
Liberty hit .438 (35-7-64) on the evening, compared to .240 for the Eagles. The Lady Flames totaled 13 aces, to NCCU's seven. Liberty served up 13 aces in both matches on Friday, the first time the team recorded double-digit aces in back-to-back matches since Oct. 22-23, 2010.
Loren Thomas tallied seven kills on as many swings, leading a balanced attack that also featured six kills each from Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft. Craycraft led the Lady Flames with 21 assists and added two aces, while Gabrielle Shipe paced Liberty with 10 digs and three aces.
Christine Anthony earned a match-high 14 kills, while Melissa Rabell Pineiro led all players with 24 assists.
Set one was tightly-contested at the outset, producing a 10-10 score in the middle stages. Craycraft scored four out of Liberty's first 10 points on kills from the setter position, and Caroline Douglas added a pair of early kills. The Lady Flames went on a 6-1 rally to take a 20-14 lead, getting kills from Thomas and Craycraft along with two blocks. An error by the Eagles made it 22-16, leading to an NCCU timeout. After NCCU fought off two set-point chances, a Thomas kill ended the set, 25-20, in Liberty's favor.
The Lady Flames connected at a scorching .632 clip during the opening set, compared to .292 for NCCU. Craycraft sent down five kills in set one, while four Eagles had three kills apiece.
Liberty started quickly in set two, racing to a 9-4 lead. Thomas and Ansley Gebben both earned two kills and the Lady Flames registered two blocks during the early going. Shipe served up three straight aces, stretching Liberty's advantage to 10, at 16-6. The Eagles inched back into the set, as back-to-back aces made it 17-10. The Lady Flames cruised to the finish, winning 25-15, as Haley Jeffcoat tallied the set-winning kill.
Liberty hit .333 in set two, to .233 for the Eagles. Anthony led all players with eight set-two kills.
The Eagles rallied to tie set three at 7-all, as an NCCU ace capped a four-point spurt. Jeffcoat broke the tie with a kill, followed by a Happel kill. The hosts led briefly, 11-10, after a 3-0 Eagles run. Trailing 17-14, the Eagles drew even at 17-17 before Jeffcoat scored kills on successive NCCU serves to give Liberty a 19-18 advantage. The Lady Flames tallied the final six points of the match while Jeffcoat served, wrapping up a 25-18 win and 3-0 match victory.
Liberty concludes its participation at the North Carolina Central Tournament tomorrow, facing Elon at 2:30 p.m.