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Lady Flames Hold Off Kent State for 3-2 Win
The Liberty volleyball team held off host Kent State, 3-2 (28-26, 26-24, 25-27, 17-25, 15-11) on Friday, winning its eighth match in a row and second on Friday at the Kent State Mizuno Classic.
The Lady Flames advance to 8-1 on the season, while the Golden Flashes are now 2-5. Prior to this season, the last time Liberty won eight matches in a row was in October of 2010. Liberty is now 3-1 in five-set matches this year.
Liberty tied its season high with 14.5 team blocks, getting seven rejections each from Kendle Rollins and Loren Thomas and six from Jade Craycraft. Kent State hit .224 for the match, compared to .223 for the Lady Flames.
Craycraft tallied nine kills on 13 swings (.692) and added 45 assists and 12 digs. Caroline Douglas posted a team-high 16 kills, hitting .464, while Ansley Gebben connected for 12 kills. Gabrielle Shipe collected a team-high 19 digs and Becca Haraf entered double-figures with 10 digs.
Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola recorded a match-high 22 kills in addition to 11 digs for the hosts. Kelly Hutchison chipped in 19 kills, while Aleksandra Nowak had a match-high 60 assists and Hannah Herc led all players with 20 digs.
The Lady Flames outlasted Kent State in set one, breaking an 18-18 tie with a 6-3 rally to obtain set point at 24-21. The Golden Flashes battled back, gaining a set point chance at 25-24 via a four-point rally. Liberty fended off two set-point tries, and went ahead, 27-26 on a triple block by Happel, Thomas and Craycraft. The Lady Flames closed out the extended set, 28-26, when a Golden Flashes attack misfired.
Liberty totaled 6.5 team blocks in the opening set, including four by Rollins, to hold Kent State to a .118 attack percentage. Hutchison registered eight kills for Kent State, while Douglas recorded five kills.
During set two, the Lady Flames overcame a 20-16 deficit to win, 26-24. Trailing 20-16, Liberty drew to within one when a triple block capped a 3-0 rally. Following six rally points, the Lady Flames tied it at 23-all on a Rollins ace. A Kent State error gave Liberty set point, 24-23. Liberty later clinched set two, 26-24, on a block by Thomas and Craycraft, to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
Both teams hit for high average in the second session, with Liberty hitting .400 compared to .308 for the Golden Flashes. Douglas led all players with a 6-for-6 attack, while Hutchison and Aderemi-Ibitola had four kills apiece.
The Lady Flames staged a 4-0 run to build a 20-17 advantage during the third set, as Haley Jeffcoat registered two kills and Craycraft tallied a kill. Liberty later gained match point at 24-22 with an ace by Rollins, but the Golden Flashes quickly evened the score. In all, the hosts fought off three match point tries, and Lauren Engleman notched consecutive kills for a 27-25 set-three win.
The Golden Flashes connected at a .395 pace in the third session led by seven kills from Aderemi-Ibitola. Liberty hit .361, as four Lady Flames had at least three kills.
After a kill by Rollins tied set four, 13-13, Kent State went on a 6-0 run which included two Golden Flashes blocks. The visitors got to within 21-16 after a Gebben kill and a KSU error. The hosts closed to the finish, winning the fourth stanza, 25-17.
Kent State hit .188 in set four, while Liberty hit for a negative percentage.
Liberty stormed to an 8-2 lead to open set five, behind three kills from Gebben and four Kent State miscues. The Golden Flashes, trailing 12-5, scored the next three points, including two Aderemi-Ibitola kills. Jeffcoat then connected on a kill for a 13-8 edge, and Craycraft gave Liberty match point tries at 14-10 before Douglas ended the match with a kill.
Liberty wraps up its participation at the Kent State Mizuno Classic tomorrow, when the Lady Flames take on Marshall of Conference USA at 1 p.m.