Liberty splits season-ending duals with NCAA DII Pioneers
Liberty University's women's beach volleyball team capped a sensational spring semester by splitting two matches with NCAA Division II Tusculum (Tenn.) University on Saturday at the sand courts located beyond the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex.
"They were the best NCAA Division II team we have played this year and it was a pretty even matchup," Lady Flames Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. "Lincoln Memorial was more athletic, but not as beach experienced because they were playing indoor and beach. Tusculum was made up of all sand players and that showed in their touch on the ball and feel for the game. It was a great end to our season and way for our players to stay motivated and know what they need to work on in the offseason."
Liberty won the morning opening dual match, 4-1, led by its No. 1 pair of freshman Lizzy Armstrong and sophomore Kaitlyn Holbrook, who swept the Pioneers' top duo, 21-25, 21-17; the No. 3 tandem of freshmen Riley Smith and Rylee Urban, who won 21-19, 21-17; the No. 4 team of junior Jenae Baker and graduate Payton Carter, who won 21-16, 21-18; and the No. 5 duo of freshman Cara Leckleider and sophomore Genessa Sirard won 21-17, 21-19
Graduate Alyssa Register goes up for a spike from the back row.
Lady Flames freshman Sydnie Metzker and graduate Alyssa Register won their first game before dropping a competitive No. 2-seeded match, 21-23, 21-19, 16-14. In exhibition action, the No. 6 tandem of sophomore Olivia Litzau and junior Lexi Kruse won 21-10, 21-13 while the seventh-seeded pairing of senior Emily Lagerquist and freshman Taylor Arnold won in three games.
The Pioneers, who were prepping for this weekend's South Athletic Conference tournament, turned the tables on Liberty in the afternoon rematch, winning 4-1 after VanDePerre sat out his top team of Armstrong and Holbrook and bumped up his lower-seeded pairs.
"We moved everyone up a pair to mix it up, get more of a challenge, and see what would happen," VanDePerre said. "It was good for the girls to experience what that next jump would look like when the seniors graduate, and to keep us humble with the success we have had of late. It was not like we had rankings or a spot in the playoffs on the line with no league playoffs for club teams."
Metzker and Register moved up to the No. 1 seed and were swept by 21-19 and 21-15 scores while the No. 2 tandem of Smith and Urban lost, 21-10, 21-11; the No. 3 pair of Baker and Carter lost 21-19, 21-14; the No. 4 team of Leckleider and Sirard won decisively, 21-10, 21-13; and the No. 5 duo of Litzau and Kruse lost a tight match 25-23, 23-21. In exhibition play, Lagerquist and Arnold won their first game before losing the No. 6 match, 18-21, 21-14, 15-7, while the No. 7 tandem of sophomore Ellie Schanz and freshman Heather Forton won in three games.
While the Lady Flames have concluded their season, about a dozen members of Liberty's men's beach volleyball team spent last week in the weight room before starting to practice in the sand this week. The Flames will begin tournament competition after next week's final exams, with a series of AVP events on the calendar over the summer in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.