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Lady Flames Utilize Balanced Offense in 3-0 Sweep of Winthrop
The Liberty volleyball team used a balanced scoring attack, hitting .383 during a 3-0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-20) sweep of visiting Winthrop on Saturday at the Vines Center.
With the win, the Lady Flames (17-7, 7-2 Big South) remain atop the Big South standings, while Winthrop (11-12, 5-4) sees its four-match winning streak come to an end.
Liberty has now won each of its last 19 conference home matches, breaking the previous program record of 18, set from Oct. 15, 1996 through Nov. 9, 1999. The Lady Flames are 7-0 at home this season, stretching their overall home winning streak to 12. Liberty has also prevailed in each of its last 20 sets at home.
Both teams hit over .300 for the match, with Liberty outhitting Winthrop, .383-.308. The Lady Flames held an 8-7 advantage in blocks and 42-39 in digs.
Liberty's Caroline Douglas led all players with 14 kills. Lillie Happel recorded 12 kills, while Loren Thomas hit .500 in scoring 10 kills, to go with a match-high six blocks. Jade Craycraft registered 41 assists and a match-high 15 digs for her 20th career double-double. Kendle Rollins sent down eight kills on 11 attempts (.727), and Gabrielle Shipe had 11 digs.
For the match, Amy Zimmer hit .647 (11-0-17) to pace the Eagles, while Stephanie Palmer contributed a double-double with 21 assists and 10 kills. Jennica Mullins registered a team-high four blocks.
Liberty registered 20 kills at a .500 pace during a 25-20 set-one victory, while the Eagles hit .406 in the opening set. Winthrop pulled to within three, 22-19, but the Lady Flames surged for the win. Thomas had five kills in the opening set, while Rollins (4-0-4) and Douglas (4-0-7) recorded four kills apiece for the Lady Flames. Lenz led Winthrop with four kills during the first stanza.
Set two proved to be the tightest-contested set of the match, with 11 ties and three lead changes. With the score tied at 19-19, Liberty ended the session on a 6-1 run, getting a pair of blocks during the closing surge. Douglas registered seven kills and Happel added four, as Liberty hit .333. Winthrop attacked at a .289 clip, led by four kills from Palmer.
The Eagles led, 9-8, during the early going of the third set, but the Lady Flames broke a 14-14 tie with an 11-6 run to close out the match sweep, 25-20. As an example of the team's balance, Douglas, Thomas and Happel all had two kills as part of Liberty's match-clinching rally. Liberty finished set three with a .324 hitting percentage, and six Lady Flames blocks helped them hold Winthrop to .243. Thomas assisted on four of Liberty's set-three blocks.
Liberty's next three matches are on the road, starting on Friday when the Lady Flames take on Radford at 7 p.m. inside the Dedmon Center.