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Lady Flames Outlast High Point, 3-2
Behind 26 kills from Caroline Douglas, the Liberty volleyball team extended its winning streak to four matches with a 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-20, 23-25, 15-10) victory over High Point on Friday night at the Millis Center.
With the win, Liberty (19-7, 9-2 Big South) maintains sole possession of first place in the conference standings. High Point falls to 18-9, 7-4 in conference play, as its four-match winning streak came to an end. Friday's match marked Liberty's second five-set victory in a row.
Liberty head coach Shane Pinder, in his ninth season leading the Lady Flames, is now fourth all-time in Big South history with 168 career victories, passing Joel McCartney of Winthrop (2001-06).
For the match, Liberty outhit High Point, .232-.202, and held a 7-2 edge in service aces. High Point led, 8-6, in blocks and 83-77 in digs.
Douglas sent down a career-high 26 kills, after Lillie Happel did so last Friday. Kendle Rollins hit .632 in registering 14 kills, while Happel had 11 kills and 15 digs and Loren Thomas tallied 11 kills and five blocks.
Jade Craycraft dished out 53 assists and added nine digs for the Lady Flames. Gabrielle Shipe registered match highs with 24 digs and three aces, while Ansley Gebben contributed 11 digs.
High Point's Kristin Heldt recorded 22 kills, and fellow outside hitter Chelsea Davis had 16 kills and 22 digs. Maddie Simpson totaled 53 assists, and Annemarie Chin collected 21 digs.
High Point held a 20-16 lead during set one before three straight kills by Douglas drew Liberty to within one point, 20-19. The Panthers gained set point at 24-22 on a Heldt kill, and claimed the victory, 25-23, on a Lady Flames miscue.
The hosts hit .308 in the first set, compared to .156 for the Lady Flames. Douglas registered nine of Liberty's 16 set-one kills, while Heldt recorded six kills to lead the Panthers.
Liberty tied the match by winning set two, 25-21. The Panthers sliced a four-point deficit in half, pulling to within 23-21 before the Lady Flames closed out the session with back-to-back Douglas kills. The visitors hit .324, led by Douglas' five kills, while High Point attacked at a .212 pace.
Liberty picked up its blocking in set three, posting four blocks to hold High Point to a .176 attack percentage. The Lady Flames broke a 15-15 tie, as Thomas recorded a kill and two block assists to give the visitors the lead at 18-15. A Craycraft-Rollins block sparked a 5-2 set-ending rally, and Liberty claimed the third set, 25-20, with a kill by Happel.
The visitors hit .286 during the third frame, with Thomas sending down four kills, and Heldt recorded four kills for High Point.
High Point sent the match to a fifth set with a 25-23 set-four victory. The Lady Flames rallied after trailing, 19-13, and tied the score at 22-22 with a kill from Rollins. The Panthers sealed the set victory when Michelle Chakirelis posted a solo block.
Liberty's Douglas, along with High Point's Heldt and Davis, had five kills during set four. The hosts outhit the guests, .214-.130, in the fourth frame.
The Lady Flames took control of set five with a 4-0 rally, gaining a 10-6 advantage following back-to-back Happel kills. High Point got as close at three, 12-9, but Liberty clinched the victory, 15-10, when Douglas scored a kill.
The Lady Flames hit .364 during the fifth set, compared to .043 for the Panthers. Happel and Douglas both tallied four set-five kills.
Liberty competes at Campbell tomorrow at 5 p.m. to close out the away portion of its regular-season schedule. The Lady Flames previously swept the Camels, 3-0, on Oct. 5 at the Vines Center.