Ricki Lee Hodges
The Liberty swimming & diving team got back on the winning track on Saturday, defeating UNC Asheville, 153-104, at the Justice Center Pool.
Liberty improves to 6-2, including 2-1 against CCSA opponents. The Lady Flames started their season out at a program-best 5-0 before falling at James Madison and Florida Gulf Coast in their last two dual meets. The Bulldogs' record now stands at 3-7, 1-6 in conference action. Liberty has won both head-to-head matchups with UNC Asheville.
On the day, Liberty registered the fastest times in 11 out of 14 events. With the Lady Flames holding a 153-73 lead following the 100 butterfly, Liberty swam the final two events as exhibitions, giving the Bulldogs the remaining 31 points.
Alicia Finnigan, after being named CCSA Women's Swimmer of the Week on Monday, won both the 200 free and 100 fly today, while Brittany Weiss won the 50 fly and 50 back. Additional event winners for Liberty included: Rachel Hoeve (100 back), Colleen Donlin (50 free), Ashlee Sall (100 free), Ricki Lee Hodges (50 breaststroke) and Victoria Tschoke (200 individual medley).
The Lady Flames opened the meet with a 1-2 showing in the 200 medley relay. Liberty's team of Weiss, Hodges, Hannah Baker and Hoeve clocked 1:46.94 for the win. Leading off the relay, Weiss swam 26.71, a time that ranks fourth on Liberty's all-time top 10 listing in the 50 backstroke.
Finnigan earned victory in the 200 free in a season-best 1:54.56, with Elizabeth Magnusson taking second place in 1:57.06 and Shelby Black (1:59.53) finishing in fourth.
Liberty also took the top two spots in the 100 backstroke, as Hoeve edged out Tschoke at the finish, 58.92 to 58.98. Boothe came in fourth at 1:00.33.
Weiss led a 1-2-3 Liberty sweep of the 50 fly, as the freshman swam 26.04 for the win. Chelsea Pond (27.07) and Hannah Baker (27.23) rounded out the top three.
Donlin swam 24.33 in the 50 free to claim her first victory of the campaign. Ashley Mauzy took second in 24.85, while Sall clocked 25.48 for fourth place.
Sall then earned her first individual-event victory as a Lady Flame, winning the 100 free in a season-best 53.36 to lead a 1-2-3 Liberty showing. Elizabeth Magnusson came in second at 54.78, followed in third by Delia Weber (54.89).
The Lady Flames claimed the top three spots in the 50 back as well, led by Weiss' season-best 26.87. Hoeve (27.18) and Tschoke (27.69) took second and third, respectively.
Hodges touched the wall first in the 50 breaststroke, as her time of 30.47 gave the sophomore her first collegiate individual-event win. Taylor Lynch turned in a 33.06 time, good for fourth place.
Finnigan won the 100 fly in 57.43, with Mauzy taking second place at 58.73 and Baker (1:00.79) coming in fourth.
Tschoke swam the fastest 200 IM time of the day, a season-best 2:11.11, while Lynch's 2:15.29 was fourth-best.
Liberty had the three best times in the 200 free relay led by the 1:37.54 turned in by the quartet of Weiss, Boothe, Baker and Sall.
Earlier in the meet, UNC Asheville's Morgan Rulevich won the 100 breaststroke in 1:07.00 and Hodges placed second in 1:07.61. Lynch swam 1:10.29 for third place.
Weber (10:42.24) and Sall (10:46.10) placed second and third, in that order, in the 1000 free.
While the Bulldogs earned the top two spots in the 500 free, Black (5:18.96) and Dani Jordan (5:27.37) finished third and fourth.
Liberty is scheduled for its final home meet at the LaHaye Aquatics Center, next Friday at 5 p.m. against Campbell. Friday's meet will also serve as Senior Night, as Liberty will honor Rachel Rippey and Victoria Tschoke with a pre-meet ceremony.