Lady Flames split into two beach squads, finish first, second in four-team home event
Liberty University’s women’s beach volleyball team hosted the first of its two preseason collegiate fall tournaments on Saturday, with the Lady Flames splitting into white and blue teams in a four-team duel with Stevenson and North Carolina State.
“Overall, (Assistant Coach) Jess (Nelson) and I thought it was an awesome day,” Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. “It was great to face new opponents for the first time this year and I thought we served tough and adjusted well throughout each match. We battled some elements with rain and wind, and then nice weather mixed in. The girls stayed focused and didn’t let it get to them.”
Liberty’s white squad went 3-0 to win the event, starting with a 3-1 victory over the Wolfpack. The Lady Flames’ No. 1 senior tandem of Lexi Kruse and Heather Forton won their first match, 21-19, 21-4, while junior Taylor Arnold and freshman Julia McGuirk prevailed, 21-18, 21-8, at the No. 2 spot.
“Julia and Taylor have been the toughest team for our teams to beat this year,” VanDePerre said. “They’re so controlled and scrappy and just find ways to win which has been awesome to see.”
Liberty’s No. 3 pair of junior Kaitlyn Holbrook and freshman Jill Kater dominated their NC State opponents, 21-9, 21-5.
“I was really impressed with Jill Kater, who really has been progressing in the sand,” VanDePerre said. “She and Kaitlyn were the most consistent team of the day.”
The only match the Lady Flames lost, they also won, as seniors Maddie Pott and Genessa Sirard represented the Wolfpack, which only brought three pairs of players, and rallied to defeat Liberty’s No. 4 team of sophomore Lizzy Armstrong and senior Ellie Schanz, 17-21, 21-17, 15-13.
Both Liberty’s white and blue teams swept Stevenson by 4-0 scores, as did the blue squad in its match with NC State.
The Mustangs and the Wolfpack finished tied for third in the tournament at 0-2-1 and Liberty’s two teams squared off in the final, with its white squad emerging with a 3-1 victory to finish 3-0 and hand the blue team (2-1) its only setback.
On the top court, the blue tandem of senior Jenae Baker and sophomore Cara Leckleider beat Kruse and Forton, 21-17, in the one-game championship match. Meanwhile, the white duo of Arnold and McGuirk defeated senior Olivia Litzau and junior Riley Smith, 21-18, the same score that Holbrook and Kater edged senior Sydnie Metzker and freshman Grace Kennelley by, on the strength of Kennelley’s setting in transition.
The white squad’s fourth-seeded pair of Armstrong and Schanz clinched the match with a 21-14 win over Lady Flames junior Audrey Antesberger and senior Claire Kostrzewa.
“On the top nets, both (of our No.) 1 pairs did some really nice things both offensively and defensively,” Van DePerre said. “We’re excited to get back to work this week as we prepare for Erskine (College) and (the University of North Carolina) UNC this coming weekend.”
Videos edited by Kylee Ligle/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant