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Liberty Claims Hard-Fought 3-2 Semifinal Win

November 20, 2009  Radford, Va.  RSS
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Freshman Loren Thomas recorded a career-high 12 kills during Friday's victory.

Freshman Loren Thomas recorded a career-high 12 kills during Friday's victory.

For the second time in seven days, the No. 2-seeded Liberty volleyball team needed five sets to fight off a spirited effort by No. 6 seed Charleston Southern. In the end, the Lady Flames' 3-2 (25-16, 21-25, 25-14, 26-28, 15-10) victory in Friday's Big South Volleyball Championship semifinal contest at Radford's Dedmon Center put Liberty into the final match for the third straight season.

Liberty, which improves to 20-11 with its fifth consecutive win, will play No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina Saturday at 2 p.m. in the 2009 Big South Volleyball Championship title match. The contest will be a rematch of the 2008 Big South Championship final, which the Lady Flames took, 3-1, for their second consecutive conference title.

Meanwhile, Charleston Southern, which had upset No. 3 seed Winthrop on Thursday, sees its Cinderella run come to an end. The Lady Buccaneers will finish the 2009 season at 17-17, despite Amanda Hill's match-high 26 kills.

A trio of Chelaine McCarty (Sr., MB, Houston, Ala.) kills highlighted Liberty's 8-1 run to open the first set. Charleston Southern got no closer than four during the remainder of the opening stanza, and the Lady Flames finished a 25-16 win on Kelly Haseman's (So., L/DS, Three Rivers, Mich.) ace.

Sparked by middle blockers McCarty and Loren Thomas (Fr., Ocoee, Fla.), Liberty hit an impressive .467 during set one. Both Liberty middles recorded four kills, and the duo combined for a .727 attack percentage in the stanza. Hill and Amberle Trinder notched three kills apiece to pace the Lady Buccaneers' attack.

CSU broke a 10-10 deadlock midway through the second set, with a 4-0 burst which featured kills by Cori Holeman and Nichole Diller. The Lady Buccaneers' surge put them in front for good, and the underdog was able to even the match at 1-1 with a 25-21 decision.

Hill put down a team-high five kills during set two for CSU, while Diller added four kills and two blocks. Their efforts helped the Lady Buccaneers hit .333 and neutralize the stellar individual effort of Nicki Scripko (Jr., OH, Fayetteville, N.C.). The second team All-Big South honoree hit .692 with nine kills in the second stanza.

Liberty owned a slim 11-10 advantage in set three, before seizing control with 10 straight points. Courtney Boggs (So., S, Marysville, Ohio) started the run with a kill and then stepped to the service line for the next nine tallies. The Buckeye State native assisted on six Liberty kills during the extended surge, including four by Scripko. Boggs later recorded a solo block on Hill's attack attempt, giving Liberty a 2-1 advantage after a 25-14 third-set triumph.

Scripko racked up another nine kills during the third session, hitting .600 in the process. Boggs added a kill, 13 assists and two blocks, while directing the Lady Flames' offense to a .326 attack percentage. Hill came up with five more kills for CSU, but the Lady Buccaneers hit only .065 for the stanza.

The fourth set was the most tightly contested of the contest, including 15 ties and seven lead changes. Liberty owned a 21-18 advantage, before Charleston Southern rallied. The Lady Flames fought off two set points and had one of their own, but CSU evened the match with a 3-0 set closing run. Crissy Skokan assisted on two straight blocks, and the Lady Buccaneers' Tricia Rodl served up an ace for a 28-26 Charleston Southern win.

Hill stepped up offensively for the Lady Buccaneers with 10 kills during the fourth set, while Holeman assisted on five of CSU's six blocks. McCarty and Karyl Bacon (Jr., OH, Temecula, Calif.) put down six kills apiece to lead Liberty, with Bacon adding eight digs in the stanza.

Senior McCarty enabled Liberty to take control of the fifth and deciding set from the get-go. She recorded a kill and back-to-back service aces, initiating an 8-0 Liberty run to open the stanza. The Lady Buccaneers twice closed the gap to three points, but the Lady Flames held on for a 15-10 win and their third victory against CSU this season.

Scripko recorded a team-high three kills for Liberty during set five, while McCarty added two kills and a matching number of aces. Hill and Trinder recorded three kills apiece for the Lady Buccaneers.

During the match, which took 1:58 to decide, Liberty held the upper hand in the offensive statistical categories, while CSU led the way on defense. The Lady Flames led the Lady Buccaneers in kills (71-58), attack percentage (.266-.229), assists (66-54) and service aces (7-4). However, Charleston Southern won the dig (82-62) and block (11-7) battles.

Scripko exceeded the 20-kill mark for the second consecutive day, finishing with a season-high 25 kills and a dozen digs. She was one of four Lady Flames to post 12 or more kills on Friday, as Liberty's offensive standouts also included McCarty (14 kills), Thomas (career-high 12 kills) and Bacon (12 kills).

McCarty and Thomas shared the team lead with three blocks apiece, while McCarty also added a match-high three aces. Bacon completed her sixth consecutive double-double with a team-leading 18 digs.

Sophomores Boggs and Haseman both shone for the Lady Flames on Friday. Boggs notched a match-high 60 assists to equal her season-best total. Haseman added 15 digs to Liberty's defensive effort.

Hill's 26 kills headlined three Lady Buccaneers in double figures, and the junior added 17 digs. Diller (13 kills) and Trinder (12 kills) also excelled offensively for CSU.

Lady Buccaneer setter Sam Sasan ended with a double-double (50 assists, 12 digs). Meanwhile, Holeman's seven blocks and Rodl's match-high 22 digs paced Charleston Southern's scrappy defensive effort.

QUOTES

Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder
"This was a great match and was everything you could hope for in the semifinals. Charleston Southern never quit. They had something special going out there. Our girls just made the plays they needed to make and we had huge help from several key players. Nicki Scripko was huge with 25 kills and freshman Loren Thomas had a great match with 12 kills. We also have to give a lot of credit to Chelaine McCarty in the middle. A great match from players like this is the reason we won."

Charleston Southern Head Coach Danyel Bellush
"I am so proud of them. I feel like we were the little team that wouldn't go away. I am really proud of how we came back in the last set. That was a valiant effort from them. I am just so proud of them."