Viva volleyball

The Lady Flames volleyball team headed to Orlando, Fla. Friday, Aug. 11, to take on three teams in the Holiday Inn Select/University of Central Florida Classic and returned with a title.

Liberty played its first match against Jacksonville Friday. The Lady Flames trailed 2-0 after the first two sets, but quickly jumped into comeback mode. The Flames went on to win the last three sets (25-17, 25-21, 15-8), winning over Jacksonville.

Three Lady Flames had double digit kills. Sophomore Ansley Gebben had career-high 17 kills. Not far behind her was senior Loren Thomas with 14 kills and redshirt freshman Caroline Douglas with 11. Redshirt junior Kendle Rollins and junior Lillie Happel each added eight kills.

Junior setter Jade Craycraft was on her game with 49 assists and 13 digs. Defensive specialist Gabrielle Shipe collected 18 digs. The Flames posted nine aces on the night.

The Lady Flames were on their heels, itching for a victory as they heading into the match against Columbia Friday evening.

The Flames fell short in the first set against Columbia (25-17), but were able to bounce back and win the next three sets (25-16, 25-17, 26-24).

Craycraft was on her game once again, posting a season-high 52 assists. Gebben and Happel both collected 13 kills for the night, followed by Thomas with 12 kills and five blocks. Douglass and Rollins were right behind with nine kills apiece. Shipe recorded 14 digs. Freshman Allie Reynolds helped lead the team with a career-high three aces.

Liberty’s final game of the weekend series was Aug. 12 against the host of the UCF Classic. The Lady Flames gave it their all, clinching the UCF title in five tough-fought games (15-25, 25-23, 25-23, 22-25, 16-14).

The fifth game of the night kept everyone on the edge of their seats. The Flames started out with a 6-2 lead, but UCF held on, coming within one swing of a victory. But UCF failed on their match point and gave the Flames a chance to steal the victory.
UCF finished the night leading the Lady Flames 68-53 in kills, but it was not enough for them to clinch the tournament title.

Douglas had 16 kills against UCF, Thomas added 10 kills and Gebben added nine. Shipe led the Lady Flames with 17 digs. Craycraft was a huge asset with 41 assists and six blocks.

Thomas was named tournament MVP and Douglas and Gebben joined Thomas on the all-tournament team.

“To come on the road and win the tournament down here at Central Florida, and the way that we did it, really gives us a lot to build on throughout the year and some stuff to look back and draw from,” coach Shane Pinder said. “Just a great team effort, a great win for our program, and I’m really happy for our athletes.”

The Lady Flames will continue their season as they head to Kent, Ohio Sept. 7 to compete at the Kent State Mizuno Classic.

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