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    March 1, 2023 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University’s women’s beach volleyball team traveled to Grand Sands Volleyball facility in Loveland, Ohio, this past weekend to compete against Morehead (Ky.) State, Austin Peay (Tenn.), and Eastern Kentucky in four dual matches.

    “Traveling to the same facility we played at last year and seeing pairings from last fall (EKU) and last spring season (Morehead) was beneficial as we gauge our performance as a program,”  Lady Flames Head Coach Jess Nelson said. “Fortunately, we will get to see Austin Peay and EKU a few more times this spring, and this weekend gave us a marker for what level we have to play at to find success against quality programs.”

    Though they lost all four, including the first and last against Morehead State by 3-2 and 4-1 scores, to Austin Peay by a 4-1 final, and Eastern Kentucky, 5-0, the Lady Flames showed flashes of excellence as they prepare to play four more times this weekend.

    Nelson was particularly pleased with the performances of her Nos. 1, 3, and 5 pairs.

    “We had a strong showing from (sophomores) Emma Taylor and Abigail Luke at No. 5,” she said, noting that they rallied to win their match against Austin Peay’s Tristin Smith and Payton Deidesheimer, 8-21, 21-10, 15-11. “Abbie provides an aggressive, strong net presence that Emma played great defense behind. They brought great energy to the first flight of matchups. They pressured each opponent and gave themselves the opportunity to win each match by pushing it to three sets, or within 2 points in both sets against EKU.”

    At No. 3, freshman Grace Cropper teamed up with senior Heather Forton to win their first match over Morehead State’s Abby Hulsman and Anya Reinhard, 19-21, 21-17, 15-10.

    “They put themselves in a similar situation against their opponents as all of their matches went to 3 sets with the exception of their final match,” Nelson said. “I’m really proud of the way they battled, and they’re looking forward to seeing both EKU and Austin Peay again in March.”

    Liberty’s No. 2 tandem of juniors Sydney Metzger and Cara Lecklider also won their first match against Morehead State’s Irene Wogenstahl and Bridget Bessler, 21-16, 21-18.

    The Lady Flames’ top-seeded duo of Kaitlyn Holbrook and junior Lizzy Armstrong capped their weekend with Liberty’s only win in the rematch with Morehead State, defeating Wogenstahl and Trinity Miller, 21-19, 21-17.

    “They showed up to compete in each of their matches this weekend,” Nelson said. “They are really hungry for these opportunities to play great teams and are making great adjustments throughout each match.”

    The Lady Flames will return to action on Thursday when they visit Due West, S.C., to challenge Spartanburg (S.C.) Methodist at 1 p.m. and Erskine (S.C.) College at 3 p.m. They will then head to Wilmington, N.C., to take on UNC Wilmington this Saturday and Sunday, when they will also face Catawba (N.C.) College.

    Saturday’s Results

    Morehead State 3, Liberty 2

    1. Sydney Wyman and Trinity Miller (MOR) def. Kaitlyn Holbrook and Elizabeth Armstrong (LIB) 21-23, 21-17, 15-8
    2. Sydney Metzger and Cara Lecklider (LIB) def. Irene Wogenstahl and Bridget Bessler (MOR) 21-16, 21-18
    3. Heather Forton and Grace Cropper (LIB) def. Abby Hulsman and Anya Reinhard (MOR) 19-21, 21-17, 15-10
    4. Peyton Kennedy and Peighton Isley (MOR) def. Taylor Arnold and Jillian Kater (LIB) 21-7, 21-12
    5. Brenna Bommer and Andrea Grimes (MOR) def. Emma Taylor and Abigail Luke (LIB) 21-15, 18-21, 15-12

    Exhibition: Kinsey McAfee and M.E. Hargan (MOR) def. Gracie Hall and Brenna Bentley (LIB) 21-18, 21-13

    Eastern Kentucky 5, Liberty 0

    1. Sarah Mitchell/Shannon Stone (EKU) def. Lizzy Armstrong/Kaitlyn Holbrook (LU), 21-23, 21-11, 16-14
    2. Hannah Keating/Paityn Walker (EKU) def. Cara Lecklider/Sydnie Metzker (LU), 21-9, 21-11
    3. Rachel Mueller/Bella Williams (EKU) def. Grace Cropper/Heather Forton (LU), 14-21, 21-16, 15-7
    4. Maddy Campbell/Elizabeth Fonvielle (EKU) def. Taylor Arnold/Jillian Kater (LU), 21-11, 21-16
    5. Arilyn Lee/EK Lonergan (EKU) def. Abigail Luke/Emma Taylor (LU), 21-19, 25-23

    Sunday’s results

    Austin Peay 4, Liberty 1

    1. Marlayna Bullington/Kelsey Mead def. Kaitlyn Holbrook/Lizzy Armstrong (LU) 21-13, 21-13|
      2. Chloee McDaniel/Mikayla Powell def. Sydnie Metzker/Cara Lecklider (LU) 21-14, 21-13
      3. Jamie Seward/Elizabeth Wheat def. Grace Cropper/Heather Forton (LU) 21-19, 19-21, 15-7
      4. Erin Eisenhart/Karli Graham def. Taylor Arnold/Jill Kater (LU) 21-12, 21-15
      5. Abigail Luke/Emma Taylor (LU) def. Tristin Smith/Payton Deidesheimer 8-21, 21-10, 15-11
      Exhibition: BrennaRae Bentley/Gracie Hall (LU) def. Jenna Salyer/Abby Thigpen 22-20, 13-21, 15-10

    Morehead State 4, Liberty 1

    1. Kaitlyn Holbrook and Elizabeth Armstrong (LIB) def. Irene Wogenstahl and Trinity Miller (MOR) 21-19 21-17
    2. Kinsey McAfee and Bridget Bessler (MOR) def. Sydney Metzger and Cara Lecklider (LIB) 22-20, 22-20
    3. Peyton Kennedy and Abby Hulsman (MOR) def. Heather Forton and Grace Cropper (LIB) 21-11, 21-10
    4. Peighton Isley and Brenna Bommer (MOR) def. Taylor Arnold and Jillian Kater (LIB) 21-8, 21-17
    5. E. Hargan and Andrea Grimes (MOR) def. Emma Taylor and Abigail Luke (LIB) 19-21, 21-17, 15-3