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Happel's Career Match Fuels 3-2 Win at Radford
Liberty recorded 15.5 team blocks and Lillie Happel registered a career-high 26 kills, as the Lady Flames downed Radford, 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 15-8) on Friday at the Dedmon Center.
With the win, conference-leading Liberty improves to 18-7 on the season, including 8-2 in Big South play. Radford is now 13-14, 3-7 in conference matches. Liberty is 5-3 in five-set matches this season after winning in five sets at Radford for the second straight year.
Liberty's 15.5 blocks set a new team single-match high this season, while Radford totaled nine blocks. Liberty hit .268 for the match, and Radford hit .185, with the Lady Flames holding a 70-68 edge in digs.
Happel's 26 kills are the most by a Lady Flame since Nicki Scripko had 26 against High Point on Oct. 14, 2008. Caroline Douglas added 15 kills and five blocks, while Kendle Rollins had eight kills and a career-high nine blocks. With her nine blocks, Rollins is now tied for eighth at Liberty with 289 career blocks.
Jade Craycraft dished out 47 assists in addition to 10 digs and seven blocks. Craycraft became the seventh Lady Flames with 3,000 or more career assists, at 3,021. Gabrielle Shipe led all players with 16 digs, while Becca Haraf had 13 digs and Ansley Gebben had 11. Loren Thomas scored eight kills to go with six blocks.
Four Highlanders entered double figures in kills, led by Rachel Wiechecki, who recorded 16 kills and 14 digs. Emily Carlin totaled 15 kills, while Rachel Fertitta had 14 kills and Cheyanne James 13. Jena Braden had a match-high 58 assists, and Katelyn Meeks led all players with 24 digs.
Liberty battled all the way back from a 15-7 set-one deficit to tie the score at 19-19, posting a pair of blocks and two aces during a 12-4 rally. Carlin gave Radford set point, 24-23, with a kill. The Lady Flames fought off two set-point attempts before James sent down the set winner for a 27-25 victory.
Radford hit .167 during set one, compared to .146 for the Lady Flames. James led all players with six kills, while Douglas had five kills.
The Lady Flames responded by winning set two, 25-19, getting 10 kills from Happel in the second frame. Liberty took control with a 10-4 run, giving the visitors the lead at 15-10. Happel helped the Lady Flames hit .343 as a team, while Radford connected at a .200 pace. Wiechecki paced the Highlanders with five kills during the second stanza.
After holding a slim 16-14 lead, Liberty outscored Radford, 9-2, down the stretch to claim set three, 25-16. Thomas and Craycraft teamed up for two late blocks to aid the Lady Flames' surge to the finish. Liberty kept up its efficient offense, hitting .393 in recording 14 kills, while Radford hit .167 with 10 kills. Five Lady Flames registered at least two kills apiece during the third session, while Fertitta had four kills for Radford.
Radford forced a fifth set by pulling away to win set four, 25-20. The Highlanders broke a 17-17 tied with a 4-0 run. After back-to-back Liberty blocks, Radford closed to the finish. The hosts recorded 18 kills at a .245 clip, compared to 13 kills at .190 for Liberty. Carlin registered five kills in set four, while Happel had four kills.
Liberty took a quick 7-1 lead during set five before the Highlanders sliced the deficit to two, at 7-5. That was the closest Radford got, as the Lady Flames raced to a 15-8 victory to seal the match. Liberty scored at a .455 pace in the final session, compared to just .059 for the hosts. Liberty posted four team blocks in set five to limit Radford's offense. Happel (four kills) and Rollins (three kills) combined for all of Liberty's kills in the final frame.
The Lady Flames conclude the away portion of their conference schedule next weekend, competing at High Point at 7 p.m. on Friday before a 5 p.m. match on Saturday at Campbell.