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Liberty Downs Host UCF in 5 Sets, Claims UCF Title
The Liberty volleyball team defeated host UCF, 3-2 (15-25, 25-23, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14) during the championship match of the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic, Saturday night.
The Lady Flames (6-1) won their second five-set match of the weekend to post their sixth victory in a row. The host Knights are now 2-4 on the season, after going 2-1 to place second at the invitational.
Loren Thomas was named tournament MVP, and was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Caroline Douglas and Ansley Gebben.
Liberty registered 12 team blocks during the match, including six each from Thomas, Jade Craycraft and Kendle Rollins. Overall, UCF led the Lady Flames, 68-53 in kills, .191 to .155 in attack percentage, and 85-71 in digs.
Douglas sent down a match-high 16 kills for the Lady Flames, hitting .308. Thomas tallied 10 kills, while Gabrielle Shipe led the Lady Flames with 17 digs. Three Liberty players finished with 15 digs each, in Gebben, Lillie Happel and Becca Haraf. Jade Craycraft dished out 41 assists to go with her six blocks, while Gebben had nine kills.
Angelica Crump posted 15 kills to lead UCF, followed by Evija Vilde with 14. Meredith Murphy collected a match-high 23 digs, while Marie Reiterova had 38 assists.
Set one was tightly contested at the outset, as Craycraft had a kill and combo block with Rollins to tie the set at 7-7. The Knights then went on a 6-0 rally to gain control of the momentum. All told, UCF ended the initial session with an 18-8 rally, good for a 25-15 set-one victory. The hosts hit .297 during the opening set, and were led by four kills from Vilde. Liberty had three blocks, with Rollins assisting on all three.
The Lady Flames built a 16-10 lead in the second set, scoring on UCF's first nine serves while hitting .571 in the early going. UCF staged an 8-1 run to turn a 19-14 deficit into a 22-20 advantage. Following a Douglas kill, Rollins tied the set, 22-22, and Liberty earned the victory, 25-23, with back-to-back blocks to end the set.
Liberty's Douglas and UCF's Vilde both connected for five kills in the second set. UCF hit .233, compared to .216 for the Lady Flames, while Liberty registered three aces.
UCF used an 8-3 run to take a 16-11 edge in set three. Trailing 18-13, Liberty scored a 9-1 run in gaining the lead, 22-19, with Thomas totaling two kills and a solo block. The Knights tied it at 22-all on a solo block by Crump. Liberty received consecutive kills from Thomas and Rollins to end set three, 25-23 and give Liberty a 2-1 lead in the match.
Both teams posted a third-set attack percentage below .100, with the Lady Flames leading in kills, 13-11.
The Knights went on a 9-0 rally to gain a 17-9 advantage during the fourth stanza, getting three kills from Crump in the process. Liberty faced a 23-16 deficit before scoring the next four points, capped by an ace from Gebben. Crump then sent the match into a fifth set with the winning kill, 25-21.
UCF notched 16 kills in set four, compared to 11 for the Lady Flames. Liberty had four blocks during the frame, with Craycraft and Rollins assisting on three rejections each.
The Lady Flames raced to a 6-2 lead in set five, connecting on five out of six attack attempts during that span. Haraf served up an ace for an 8-3 lead at the changeover. UCF rallied with a 10-4 spurt, taking the lead at 13-12 on a block by Tory McCutcheon and Vilde. The Knights failed on their match-point try, 14-13, and the Lady Flames clinched the victory, 16-14, after scoring on the final two rallies.
Following a return to campus, the Lady Flames will travel to Kent, Ohio to compete in the Kent State Mizuno Classic, Friday and Saturday.