Beach volleyball comes away with commanding 4-1 win over Richard Bland

Women’s beach volleyball continued its home winning streak with an impressive back-to-back pair of victories against Richard Bland College Tuesday, April 9. With a sweeping 5-0 win followed by another 4-1 win, the team showed grit through the overcast afternoon. Having played the Statesmen already this season, the team knew what to expect; and with the home advantage, Liberty continued to remain unbeaten on home sand. 

Starting off the afternoon at 3 p.m., the Flames took a dominating rush over the Statesmen with early wins. Sophomore Brenna Bentley and senior Abigail Luke played on one court, while sophomore Grace Cropper and junior Jillian Kater took to another. Cropper and Kater, taking the first win of the day, closed out their set with a 21-13 first-game win, later followed by a 21-19 finish.

The two sets wrapped up with Bentley and Luke claiming the second team win. 

Later, the senior pair of Lizzy Armstrong and Sydnie Metzker clinched a 21-18 victory and repeated success with a 23-21 win. 

The next pair, freshman Avaree Kellert and senior Cara Lecklider, won their games 21-15 and 21-13. However, one pair that particularly stood out was freshman Kinley Phillips and sophomore Gabrielle Olson. To close out the first game of the set, the pair took a 21-13 loss to the Statesmen. 

Taking the sand for the second time, the two looked confident and collected. Once the whistle blew, there was a surge of fast-paced action between the two teams, with the Flames keeping composure after every point. The Statesmen kept a steady follow of their lead, and they drew their game to a close with a 26-24 win, forcing a tiebreaker. 

Lizzy Armstrong | Photo by Jason Tong

Olson took the first serve and was able to capitalize on Richard Bland early on; however, the Statesmen again followed closely. With a final set and a serve by the opposing team, Phillips made an impressive spike, ending the game 15-10 and leaving the team’s score 5-0 against the Statesmen. 

“(It was a) really hard-fought performance from the two today,” Head Coach Jessica Nelson said. “To come back and see them win was impressive.” 

Between the two matches, the team kept spirits high, and smiles were seen even as rain and wind started to sweep into the competition.   

Richard Bland and the Flames lined up again for their final match of the night. After a long first round of sets, the girls’ energy was still high off the first win. Nelson felt the team was much more comfortable with the afternoon match.

“I think we were just really excited to play at home,” Nelson said. “I just said, ‘You guys are ready to get out there and go play.’”

Sydney Metzker | Photo by Jason Tong

The team returned to the sand with one new pair, freshman Eliza Griffin and graduate Maggie Marable. Opening the games for the second match, Kater and Cropper earned another early victory, the first set ending in 24-22 followed by 21-17. However, Bentley and Luke faced a close defeat in their first game. The pair was able to bring it back and win 21-12, breaking the match into a tiebreaker.

With the Statesmen taking the first serve, Luke gained a point early in the set, with skill being shown from both sides of the net. The game came to a rest when a ball served from the Statesmen landed out of bounds. 

The Flames, already with a 2-0 lead over Richard Bland, continued with their second round of sets. Armstrong and Metzker continued their wins, reaching 21 points first in both games. With the rain starting to pick up, the last team to step on the sand was Griffin and Marable. Forced into a tiebreaker, the pair seemed eager to claim victory. Unfortunately, the two fell short to the Statesmen after one final spike ended the day’s games

However, the Flames were still able to take home the victory against Richard Bland 4-1, a big win as the group hits the final stretch of the season. 

“Through setup and teardown, they just do it all,” Nelson said. “(I’m) really proud of these girls just doing it all.”

Jolly is a sports reporter for the Liberty Champion

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