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No. 8 Seed Minnesota Posts 3-0 Win Over Liberty in NCAA 1st Round
Liberty Post-Match Quotes
The Liberty volleyball team played a spirited match before falling to No. 8 seed Minnesota, 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 34-32) on Friday at the Sports Pavilion during the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
With the win, Minnesota (25-7) runs its winning streak to five matches, advancing to tomorrow's second-round matchup against Creighton. Liberty, making its seventh NCAA appearance overall, saw its 10-match winning streak snapped, concluding the 2012 season with a 25-8 record.
Friday's third set was Liberty's longest set since the beginning of the 25-point rally-scoring format, which started in 2008. Prior to Friday, the longest set for Liberty under the current scoring format came on Aug. 28, 2010, a 33-31 set-two victory over Charlotte.
For the match, Minnesota held a .280-.194 advantage in hitting percentage, leading 8-0 in aces, 8.5-8.0 in blocks and 50-39 in digs.
Caroline Douglas paced Liberty with 12 kills, while Loren Thomas recorded seven kills (.417) and five blocks. Lillie Happel added nine kills, and Jade Craycraft contributed 23 assists, seven kills, six digs and three blocks. Gabrielle Shipe led Liberty with 11 digs, surpassing 500 digs for the season.
The Golden Gophers' Katherine Harms tied for the match high with 12 kills to go with three aces and four blocks. Tori Dixon contributed 10 kills and five blocks. Alexandra Palmer had a match-best 39 assists, and Daly Santana recorded 10 kills and 13 digs.
Liberty led 11-9 in set one after an early 4-0 rally that included two kills by Craycraft. A Kendle Rollins-Melissa Racz block later broke a 13-13 tie. The Golden Gophers staged a five-point rally, taking an 18-15 edge on a Harms kill. Douglas scored a kill to trim the deficit to 18-16, but the hosts pulled away for a 25-21 set-one victory. In all, Minnesota outscored Liberty, 12-6, over the final 18 serves.
Minnesota hit .324 during the opening set, led by six kills at .417 by Harms. Douglas matched Harms, sending down six kills for Liberty, which hit .250 as a team. The Lady Flames posted three blocks, while Minnesota served up three aces.
The Golden Gophers took a 2-0 lead into the intermission after winning the second stanza, 25-10. The hosts used their serving game and size at the net to post two aces and six blocks, holding Liberty to a .000 hitting percentage during set two. Minnesota attacked at a .400 clip, as Ashley Wittman led the way with four kills and Dixon assisted on five blocks. Happel and Thomas both had a pair of kills during the second session.
Liberty battled back from an early 11-5 deficit in set three. The Lady Flames went ahead for the first time in the set, 18-17, on a Craycraft-Thomas block. Craycraft then gave Liberty a 20-17 lead with a kill. Minnesota regained the lead at 23-22, but Liberty fought back to earn set point, 24-23 on a Douglas-Rollins block. Liberty and Minnesota battled back and forth from then on, each gaining four set-point chances. Minnesota clinched the marathon third set, 34-32, after cashing in with an ace on its sixth match-point try.
Set three featured 17 ties and eight lead changes. Liberty outhit Minnesota, .295 to .185, during the final frame. Douglas and Happel sent down five kills apiece, while Dixon had six kills for the Gophers. Thomas recorded three blocks during the third set.