Vines hosts tourney
Lady Flames win two of four games as the Vines Center reopens for action
In front of a home crowd at a newly renovated Vines Center for the first time in the 2014 season, the Lady Flames split four matches at the Liberty
The Lady Flames took down the Howard University Bison (2-5) in their first match of day one, while falling to the Murray State Racers (6-0) in the evening match. Day two saw the Flames drop their afternoon match to the USC-Upstate Spartans, before rallying to beat the UNC-Greensboro (UNCG) Spartans in the final match of
The Lady Flames opened the invitational by defeating the Bison in dominant fashion, taking three straight sets (25-21, 25-22, 25-21) from the Howard team, who was led by freshmen outside hitter Khaila Donaldson. Donaldson recorded 12 kills.
In the match, the Lady Flames recorded 14 blocks, with six from junior middle blocker Jade Vorster. Freshman right side hitter Hannah Weidner led the team with 11 kills against the Bison. Coming into the weekend’s contests, Weidner led the team with an average of 3.67 kills per set, according to the official Liberty Flames
Lady Flames redshirt junior outside hitter Caroline Douglas acknowledged how exciting it was to get a win in the first match back in the Vines Center, which was hosting its first event since undergoing a summer renovation that added more than 1,000 seats.
“We really take a lot of pride in the Vines Center,” Douglas said. “This is our building, our place to play. So as a team, we really want to protect this, and we were able to do that with Howard.”
In the second contest of day one, the Lady Flames lost a tough match to Murray State three sets to one (20-25, 25-23, 19-25, 20-25). It was the first matchup ever between the Lady Flames and the Racers.
Junior setter Caila Stapleton of the Lady Flames recorded 41 assists and seven digs against the Racers. Stapleton has stepped in and filled the shoes left by graduated senior Jade Craycraft.
“(Stapleton), for the most part, has been able to play fairly consistent … (and) stay fairly steady through the challenges,” Pinder said. “We hope throughout the year she continues to get better.”
The Lady Flames got off to a slow start on day two, dropping their first five sets over two games, losing 3-0 (20-25, 23-25, 19-25) to USC-Upstate and dropping their first two sets against UNCG. Suddenly, the Lady Flames caught fire, winning three straight sets to beat the Spartans 3-2 (18-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-18, 15-8). Weidner and Douglas combined for 37 kills, rallying the Flames back after getting blown out the first two sets.
Weidner, who played at home for the first time in her career, saw lessons in the tough losses to Murray State and USC-Upstate.
“We might not have won that, but we learned a lot of key things of how to adjust our defense,” Weidner said. “I think it helped our team a lot even though we didn’t pull out a win.”
The Lady Flames will travel to Washington, D.C., to face Georgetown Sept. 9 before heading to Providence, Rhode Island for the Brown Invitational on the weekend.