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Lady Flames Win 5th in a Row, 3-1 Against Columbia
Behind a balanced attack, Liberty overcame a first-set loss to down Columbia, 3-1 (17-25, 25-16, 25-17, 26-24), Friday at the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic.
The Lady Flames (5-1) have won five matches in a row. The team's winning streak is it's longest since winning seven straight matches, from Oct. 14 through Nov. 5, 2011. Columbia sustained its second loss on Friday, falling to 0-2 on the season.
Five Lady Flames recorded nine or more kills, as Liberty registered 62 at a .310 hitting percentage. Liberty had nine blocks, compared to six for Columbia. The Lions hit .210, with 46 kills.
Jade Craycraft recorded a season-high 52 assists, good for her seventh career 50-assist match. Ansley Gebben and Lillie Happel both registered 13 kills, as Happel added 10 digs for a double-double. Loren Thomas totaled 12 kills and five blocks, while Caroline Douglas and Kendle Rollins had nine kills apiece. Gabrielle Shipe collected 14 digs, and Allie Reynolds chipped in a career-high three aces.
For the Lions, Caitlin Brenton tallied a match-high 14 kills, while Kelsey Mussleman had a double-double with 28 assists and 10 digs. Molly Winger tied Shipe for the match high with 14 digs.
Columbia led wire to wire in the first set, racing to a 25-17 victory. The Lady Flames fought back to within three, 15-12, but did not get any closer. The Lions ended the set the same way it started, on a 10-5 run. The Lions hit .273, compared to .179 for the Lady Flames, while Columbia served up four aces. Rollins led the Lady Flames with four kills during set one, and Brenton paced all players with five kills.
Liberty staged a 5-1 run to push its advantage to 16-11 midway through set two, getting an ace from Reynolds and kills from Craycraft and Thomas to help partially fuel the rally. After a pair of Brenton kills, Gebben put the Lady Flames back on track with a kill. Liberty then pulled away for a 25-16 set-two victory.
The Lady Flames totaled four aces during set two, and outhit Columbia, .345 to .139. Happel had four kills in the second set, while Brenton added five kills.
During set three, the Lady Flames never relinquished the lead on their way to taking the set, 25-17. Liberty's blocking game picked up during the set with four blocks and continued its hot hitting, with a .382 attack percentage. Craycraft dished out 16 assists in the third session, while Gebben had five kills and Thomas recorded four kills and three blocks. Fletcher led the Lions with five kills during set three.
Liberty led, 20-16, during set four, following a Reynolds ace, and later built its lead to 23-18 after consecutive kills by Thomas. The Lions tallied the next three points in a row, drawing to within two at 23-21. Trailing, 24-21, Columbia fought off three set points to tie the set at 24-all, before Happel and Rollins sent down back-to-back kills to clinch the match.
Happel led all players with six set-four kills, helping the Lady Flames to 20 kills during the frame. Liberty hit .350 in the fourth set, while Columbia hit .333.
Liberty will next compete against the host UCF Knights tomorrow to close out this weekend's invitational, with first serve set for 7 p.m.