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No. 1 Seed Liberty Wins 7th Big South Title, 3-1 over No. 2 Seed Coastal Carolina
Liberty, the top seed, claimed its second Big South Volleyball Championship title in a row, and conference-record seventh overall, with a 3-1 victory in the final over No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina on Sunday at Paul Porter Arena.
The Lady Flames have won the Big South's automatic qualifying bid for the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship. The championship field will be announced on Nov. 25 at 4 p.m. on ESPNU.
Liberty (25-7) extended its winning streak to 10 matches, winning its fourth conference title in the last six years and posting its fourth 25-win season in the last six campaigns. Coastal Carolina ends its season at 14-14 following a setback in the rematch of the 1998, 2008 and 2009 Big South championship matches.
Liberty's Jade Craycraft posted a match-high 38 assists, 11 digs and five blocks, and was named Big South Tournament MVP. Caroline Douglas recorded 19 kills to lead all players and Loren Thomas registered eight kills and seven blocks, as Douglas and Thomas both made the all-tournament team.
Gabrielle Shipe collected a team-high 19 digs, while Lillie Happel had eight kills and nine digs and Becca Haraf served up four aces for the Lady Flames.
Meghan Laffin recorded 13 kills to lead four Chanticleers in double-figures in kills. All-tournament selection Eszter Nagy totaled 11 kills and fellow all-tournament team player Jenna Orner had a match-high 21 digs.
For the match, Liberty posted 15 blocks, the most by the Lady Flames in a Big South tournament match in the rally-scoring era. Liberty outhit Coastal Carolina, .173-.164. The Chanticleers led in kills, 60-48, and in digs, 80-54, but Coastal had 34 hitting errors to Liberty's 20.
Liberty won a back-and-forth first set, 25-22. The Lady Flames used four blocks to build an early 9-6 lead. Coastal Carolina battled back into the lead, at 20-19, but the Lady Flames quickly regained the lead with a 3-0 rally, which Shipe capped with an ace. Douglas sent down her sixth kill of the set to make it 24-22, and Melissa Racz clinched the set-one victory with a kill.
Both teams struggled with errors in the opening set, as Liberty hit .139 compared to .029 for the Chanticleers. The teams combined for five service aces and eight service errors.
The Lady Flames overcame an early deficit in set two, staging an 11-5 run to take a 15-12 lead. Craycraft posted two kills and two block assists during Liberty's rally. The Chanticleers erased a pair of three-point deficits, tying the score at 22-22 with an ace from Jamie DiMaggio. Thomas scored a kill, giving Liberty a 23-22 lead.
Coastal Carolina then rallied for set point, at 24-23. Liberty extended the set and eventually earned two set-point tries of its own. The Chanticleers won the set, 29-27, when Laffin sent down a kill.
The Chanticleers attacked at a .224 pace with 21 kills in the second session. Nagy led Coastal Carolina with six kills. Thomas scored four kills for Liberty, which hit .167 and had totaled five blocks as a team.
A pair of 5-0 rallies keyed a 25-21 victory for the Lady Flames during set three. Liberty led, 12-7, and maintained an edge throughout the remainder of the stanza. Coastal Carolina drew to within one point on three occasions, including at 21-20, but the Lady Flames closed out the set with a 4-1 run that included two Douglas kills. Haraf capped the win with an ace.
Liberty added three blocks in the third set, outhitting the Chanticleers, .176-.135. Douglas recorded four kills, while Kindra Bailey and Nagy had four apiece for Coastal.
The Lady Flames built a 19-12 lead in the fourth set, and the Chanticleers responded with a 10-3 run to tie the set at 22-all. Happel and Douglas recorded consecutive kills, giving Liberty match point. Following a Chanticleers sideout, Douglas sent down the championship-winning kill.