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Lady Flames Surge for 3-2 Comeback Win at CSU
The Liberty volleyball team overcame a 2-1 match deficit on Friday, surging to a 3-2 victory (25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-5) over Charleston Southern at the CSU Fieldhouse.
With the win, Liberty improves to 15-6 on the season, maintaining a first-place conference tie with a 5-1 Big South record. Charleston Southern (9-14) evens its conference record at 3-3.
Friday's match marked the third straight meeting between the Lady Flames and Buccaneers in Charleston to go five sets, with Liberty winning 3-2 decisions each time.
The Lady Flames hit .271 as a team and posted season highs with 15 blocks and 82 digs. Charleston Southern hit .181, recording 85 digs and seven blocks.
Liberty redshirt freshman Caroline Douglas led all players with a career-high 21 kills, hitting .404. Monica Johnson hit .400 in tallying a career-high 11 kills, in addition to six blocks. Jade Craycraft posted 56 assists, while Loren Thomas had 12 kills and six blocks.
Gabrielle Shipe collected a match-high 29 digs, while Becca Haraf set a new career high with 19 digs. Shipe's 29 digs were the most by a Lady Flame since Kelly Haseman had a program rally-scoring-record 35 digs, Nov. 13, 2010 vs. UNC Asheville. Kendle Rollins scored seven kills and seven blocks, and Lillie Happel had 10 digs.
Sydney Tracy totaled a team-high 20 kills for CSU, followed by Kayla Klinger with 15 kills and Meredith Parrott with 11 kills. Ashley Higginbothem had 23 digs, and Kirsten Struksnes tied for the match high with 56 assists.
Liberty set the tone early at the net, posting five blocks during a 25-22 set-one victory which featured 10 ties and three lead changes. The Lady Flames sealed set one by scoring the final three points. Johnson sparked the Lady Flames' attack, with four kills on five swings, including two key kills late in the set. Klinger recorded five kills for the visitors during the first stanza. Liberty hit .250 in set one, while CSU hit .167.
The second session proved to be tight throughout, with 14 ties. Charleston Southern made the most of the fourth lead change, turning a 17-16 deficit into a 25-21 victory. The hosts outscored Liberty, 9-4, over the final 13 serves to tie the match at one set apiece. Tracy sent down three of her four set-two kills during CSU's late surge. Thomas led the Lady Flames with six kills, scoring Liberty's last two points at the net.
Charleston Southern won a back-and-forth third set, 25-23, to take a 2-1 match lead. The Lady Flames led, 21-18, following a block by Rollins and Johnson. The hosts battled back, ending the set on a 3-0 rally, with Klinger scoring a kill to seal the set. Charleston Southern hit .256 during the third stanza, while Liberty attacked at a .211 clip. Ansley Gebben led all players with five kills during set three, followed by teammate Douglas with four.
The Lady Flames controlled set four from start to finish, rolling to a 25-17 win to send the match into a fifth set. Liberty hit .400 in sending down 16 kills in the fourth set, led by Douglas, who kit 7-0-11 for the set. Charleston Southern attacked at a .225 clip, with Tracy tallying eight kills on 14 attempts with no errors.
Liberty surged to an 8-4 lead in set five, with a Douglas-Thomas block leading to the changeover. Shipe later served up consecutive aces, sparking the Lady Flames on a match-ending 6-0 rally to win, 15-5. The Lady Flames scored on all six of Charleston Southern's serves and hit .500 as a team for the decisive set. Douglas had four kills to lead Liberty during set five. CSU hit .000 with five kills in the final stanza.
Liberty travels to Conway, S.C., to face Coastal Carolina tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. The match will mark the Lady Flames' first-ever contest inside The HTC Center, the Chanticleers' new arena.