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VCU Spoils Liberty's Home Opener with 3-1 Win

September 30, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Karyl Bacon went over the 20-dig mark for the second straight match.

Karyl Bacon went over the 20-dig mark for the second straight match.

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Late rallies in the first and fourth sets enabled VCU to capture a 3-1 (26-24, 15-25, 25-15, 25-22) triumph over Liberty in the Lady Flames' 2008 home opener, Tuesday evening at the Vines Center. The Rams' victory halted Liberty's 11-match home winning streak.

Liberty, which lost its first home match since James Madison handed the Lady Flames a 3-1 setback on Sept. 18, 2007, drops to 11-5 on the season. Liberty had won three matches in a row, entering Tuesday's contest, and had prevailed in both of its previous matchups with Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) foes in 2008.

Visiting VCU used its superior size at the net to snap a two-match losing streak and improve to 8-6 on the year. The Rams finished with 11 blocks and limited the Lady Flames to a .143 attack percentage.

Momentum shifted back and forth several times during the opening set, which included nine ties and five lead changes. Six consecutive points, five of which came on Cat Juson's serve, gave the Rams an early 8-3 advantage. VCU owned the lead until Kallie Corbin (Jr., S, Beaverton, Ore.) starred in a 6-0 Liberty burst, contributing two kills and four assists. The run lifted the Lady Flames to an 18-16 lead.

Nicki Scripko's (So., OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) sixth kill of the opening set made the score 24-22, Liberty, providing the Lady Flames with a pair of set points. However, VCU pulled out a 26-24 win by scoring the final four points of the opening stanza. The Rams' decisive spurt was highlighted by Ivana Rich's two service aces and a kill.

While Scripko led Liberty's offensive attack during the first set, Marketa Janeckova did the same for VCU, hitting .385 with five kills. Libero Karyl Bacon (So., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) paced all players with 10 digs in set one.

Despite six more kills by VCU's Janeckova, Liberty controlled play throughout set two, leveling the match at one set apiece. Scripko contributed in numerous ways during the Lady Flames' 25-15 victory. She hit .625 with a team-high five kills, contributing to Liberty's .458 team attack percentage. Scripko also served for both Lady Flame aces and had a hand in two of Liberty's three blocks.

Mariel Frey, who had been used only sparingly during the first two sets, played a key role in VCU's set three triumph. With the Rams clinging to a narrow, 11-10 advantage, Frey put down three consecutive kills. Liberty got no closer than four points down the rest of the stanza, and Frey's seventh kill of set three finished off a 25-15 VCU win. Scripko finished the third set with five kills, but the Lady Flames' attack was slowed by VCU's defense, which contributed five blocks.

Trailing two sets to one, Liberty led for most of the fourth set. Corbin's kill pushed the Lady Flames' edge to 20-14, putting Liberty just five points away from forcing a fifth and deciding stanza. VCU then turned the tables, scoring 11 of the final 13 points and closing out a 3-1 victory with a 25-22 win. Rich notched two kills and two blocks during the match-closing surge by the visitors.

Brittany Pacella (R-Jr., RS, Reading, Pa.) posted kills on all three of her swings during the fourth set, but VCU used the same recipe which had worked during the third stanza. Frey paced all players with five kills and also helped out on three of the Rams' five blocks.

Scripko, the reigning Big South Player of the Week, fashioned her fourth straight double-double. She led all players with 19 kills and added 13 digs and a career-best four aces.

Bacon spearheaded Liberty's defense with 20 digs, going over the 20-dig plateau for the second consecutive outing. Meanwhile, Ashley Webber (Sr., MB, Lakeside, Calif.) assisted in half of the Lady Flames' six blocks.

Corbin climbed up a rung to fifth place on Liberty's career assist list, as the junior's match-high 40 assists increased her career total to 3,271.

For VCU, Frey hit .545 with 14 kills, coming off the Rams' bench. Libero Laryssa Goncalves led VCU with 20 digs, while Rich and Kelsie Clegg both had five blocks.

Liberty will remain at home to host new Big South member Gardner-Webb, Friday at 7 p.m. The Lady Flames and Runnin' Bulldogs are two of the Big South's three remaining undefeated teams, sporting matching 2-0 conference records.