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Liberty Claims Second Straight Road Sweep

October 24, 2009  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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The Lady Flames claimed sole possession of second place in the Big South Conference standings with a 3-0 sweep at Winthrop.

The Lady Flames claimed sole possession of second place in the Big South Conference standings with a 3-0 sweep at Winthrop.

The first time Liberty and Winthrop faced off on the volleyball court this season, the match required five sets and 2:25 to complete. Saturday afternoon, the Lady Flames needed only about half as long to sweep the host Eagles, 3-0 (25-13, 25-19, 25-21) at Winthrop Coliseum.

Liberty trailed only once in the entire match, as the Lady Flames claimed their third Big South road victory of the week and completed a regular-season sweep of Winthrop. Liberty is now 14-9 overall and takes over sole possession of second place in the conference standings with a 9-2 Big South mark.

Winthrop, which lost for just the second time in 14 home matches this season, drops to 16-8 overall. The Eagles are now 8-3 in conference action.

Liberty never gave up the lead during set one, from the time Chelaine McCarty (Sr., MB, Houston, Ala.) pounded home a kill on the opening rally until Nicki Scripko's (Jr., OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) kill wrapped up a 25-13 victory.

McCarty and Scripko combined for more kills in the first stanza than the entire Winthrop team, 10-9. Scripko converted six of her seven attacks into kills, hitting .857 in the set, while McCarty chipped in with a quartet of kills. Their efforts helped the Lady Flames outhit their hosts, .481 to .148. Kaley Viola hit .600 with three kills and the same number of digs to highlight Winthrop's effort.

Viola recorded a kill to begin the second set, giving Winthrop its only advantage of the contest, 1-0. However, Loren Thomas (Fr., MB, Ocoee, Fla.) and Karyl Bacon (Jr., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) posted kills on the ensuing two rallies, giving Liberty a lead it did not relinquish. The Lady Flames went on to record a 25-19 victory, taking a 2-0 advantage at intermission.

As potent as Liberty's offense was during the opening stanza, the Lady Flames were even better in set two. Liberty hit at a .515 clip for the set, spearheaded by middle blockers McCarty and Thomas. McCarty hit a perfect 1.000 with four kills, while Thomas ended up at .800 with four kills of her own. For the Eagles, Sara Felts enjoyed a strong set, including seven kills and a .778 attack percentage.

On Winthrop's Senior Day, one of Liberty's seniors helped the Lady Flames start the third and final stanza quickly. Brittany Pacella (R-Sr., RS, Reading, Pa.) notched a kill and two aces during a set-opening 4-1 burst. Liberty stayed on top until freshman Thomas finished the Lady Flames' 25-21 win with her sixth kill of the stanza.

Liberty owned a slim, .225 to .217 edge in attack percentage during the third set. However, Pacella's trio of aces made a difference. Thomas also stood out in the set, with a .750 attack percentage, a set-high six kills and a solo block. Defensively, Scripko came up with nine of the Lady Flames' 27 digs. Felts was again Winthrop's most dependable attacker, hitting .444 with a quartet of kills.

For the match, Liberty hit .390, as five of the Lady Flames' starters finished at .300 or higher. The victorious visitors also tallied six aces, while holding Winthrop without an ace. Defensively, Liberty accumulated 20 more digs than the Eagles, 57-37. Winthrop was able to claim a 5-3 edge in blocks on the afternoon.

Both Liberty middle blockers reached double figures in kills on Saturday, led by McCarty's dozen kills. The senior hit .381 with a pair of blocks. Meanwhile, Thomas equaled her career high with 11 kills, hitting .562 in the process.

Speaking of career highs, Scripko hustled to a career-best 18 digs, leading all players in the category. Her defensive exploits complemented nine kills and a .368 attack percentage.

Fellow outside hitter Bacon also kept busy on the back row, coming up with 14 digs. The California native now needs only one more dig to reach 1,000 for her career.

Libero Kelly Haseman (So., Three Rivers, Mich.) made it three Lady Flames with double-digit digs, as she collected 12 digs versus Winthrop.

Pacella contributed to the Liberty win in several ways. Not only did she record four of the Lady Flames' six aces, but she also hit .357 with seven kills.

Setter Courtney Boggs (So., Marysville, Ohio) finished with a match-high 45 assists, while hitting 1.000 with three kills and six digs.

The Eagles' Felts led all players with 13 kills and hit a team-leading .440. Ginnie Talley paced Winthrop with 10 digs, while setter Kelsey Hall had 32 assists.

Liberty will conclude its four-match road swing Tuesday, when it makes its first of two scheduled trips to VCU. Match time is slated for 7 p.m. at Alltel Pavilion for the Lady Flames' final non-conference tilt prior to the Big South Championship.

Winthrop will visit the Commonwealth Friday at 7 p.m., when the Eagles take on Radford in a Big South match.