Loren Thomas posted a match-high five blocks for Liberty against No. 16 Oregon, helping the Lady Flames to seven total team blocks.
Liberty, facing its first nationally-ranked opponent since 2008, dropped a three-set match to No. 16 Oregon, Wednesday at American University's Bender Arena. The Ducks won set one, 25-9, before a tight, 25-21 victory in set two and a 25-17 set-three triumph. Oregon doubled Liberty's number of kills for the match, 46-23, while the Ducks (3-1) hit .355 as a team. However, the Lady Flames (1-3) posted seven team blocks to Oregon's two, with Loren Thomas posting a match-high five blocks. Liberty trailed by one, 3-2, after five serves, with Lillie Happel recording the first of her match-high 10 kills. After that, Oregon broke the set open with a 14-2 surge, which ended with an 11-0 rally to produce a 17-4 edge. A kill by Jade Craycraft ended the 11-point run by Oregon, making the score 17-5. However, the Ducks kept the pressure on, surging to the finish for a 25-9 victory in set one. In set one, Oregon hit .522, converting 14-of-23 attempts with two errors, while the Lady Flames hit -.038 for the first set. The Ducks were led by Alaina Bergsma, Lauren Plum and Ariana Williams, who all had three first-set kills, as Plum and Williams hit 1.000. Liberty had three players (Thomas, Happel and Craycraft) with two kills apiece in the opening set. The set two score stayed close throughout, starting with a 5-5 tie after 10 rallies. Following seven rally points, Oregon took a 7-5 lead on a kill by Katherine Fischer. A block by Happel and Kendle Rollins and a Craycraft kill pulled the Lady Flames to within one at 8-7. Liberty then tied the set at 8-8 on a Fischer attack error. Oregon scored the next six points for a 14-8 advantage, forcing Liberty to call a timeout at 11-8. Kills by Thomas and Gebben, followed by an Oregon error, led to a 14-11 score and an Oregon timeout. The Ducks responded with a three-point rally of its own to build a 17-11 lead. Gebben then notched a kill, and Happel scored three quick kills during a run to trim the deficit to three at 19-16. An array of errors yielded a 22-20 Oregon lead. After two Oregon points, Happel earned a kill to make it 24-21, but the Ducks claimed set three, 25-21. Happel led Liberty with four kills during the second set, and Thomas registered three total blocks to help hold Oregon to a .100 attack percentage. Fischer led all players with six second-set kills. Gebben and Thomas combined for an early block, and Gebben added an ace and a kill to bring Liberty its first three points of set three, as the Lady Flames trailed, 5-3. Kills by Williams and Bergsma aided Oregon's extension of its lead to 11-5. Three successive points by Liberty sliced its deficit to 11-8. Happel found a rhythm with kills on two straight Oregon serves, bringing Liberty to within four at 14-10. Nine rally points in a row led to a 16-13 score, before the Ducks pushed their advantage to 18-13 on kills by Liz Brenner and Williams. The teams traded sideouts over the next six serves, leaving the score at 21-16. A 4-1 run sealed the 25-17 set three win and 3-0 match victory for Oregon. Oregon hit .567 during set three, led by 4-for-5 hitting performances by Williams and Bergsma. Liberty attacked at a .138 pace, with Happel registering four kills. For the match, Happel posted a match-high 10 kills, her second double-digit kill match in a row. Kelly Haseman collected 11 digs, tying for the match high. Thomas posted five blocks (one solo, four assists), while Craycraft dished out 18 assists. Melissa Racz, Rollins and Craycraft had two block assists apiece. Oregon posted a .355 hitting percentage, led by Bergsma's .778 (7-for-9), and Bergsma added 11 digs. Lauren Plum posted a match-best 38 assists. Fischer and Brenner tied with nine kills, while Kellie Kawalski posted 10 of Oregon's 45 digs. Liberty will now travel to Kalamazoo, Mich., to compete in the Holiday Inn West Invitational, which begins Friday at Western Michigan. The Lady Flames will open the invitational against Seton Hall Friday at 4:30 p.m. Oregon faces American tonight at 7 p.m. before returning home to Eugene for a Friday match against Seattle.