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    October 26, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    The Lady Flames’ No. 2 duo of senior Jenae Baker and junior Riley Smith narrowly lost to Erskine College, 21-19, for the only setback of the afternoon.

    Playing in separate men’s and women’s tournaments, Liberty University’s beach volleyball teams dominated Erskine College and the University of North Carolina in Saturday’s open and tri-match events on their home courts near the Liberty Mountain Intramural Complex and the East Campus Fieldhouse, respectively.

    The Lady Flames swept the Tar Heels, 5-0, and defeated Erskine, 4-1. The No. 1 tandem of seniors Heather Forton and Lexi Kruse, the No. 3 duo of junior Kaitlyn Holbrook and sophomore Lizzy Armstrong, No. 4 pairing of sophomores Syd Metzker and Cara Leckleider, No. 5 combination of juniors Julia McGuirk and Taylor Arnold, and the No. 6 (exhibition) senior tandem of Olivia Litzau and Genessa Sirard all finishing 2-0, with the No. 2 duo of senior Jenae Baker and junior Riley Smith going 1-1, dropping a tight match against Erskine, 21-19, in the deciding game.

    “We were really thrilled with the results and pairings,” Liberty Head Coach Kaleb VanDePerre said. “We went with the lineup we would have played if the season started this weekend and saw some really good things from all our pairs. We are as deep as we have ever been which is great for our coaching staff to really have to sub players out since they are all so well balanced and to track stats and wins and losses as any of our nine pairs could be traveling week-in and week-out. It was a great fall season and we are so excited to compete against some really strong teams next semester. We need to keep working on finishing in the third game and being solution focused as matches move on.”

    Kaitlyn Holbrook and Lizzy Armstrong celebrate a winning point in a match against North Carolina.

    Holbrook and Armstrong, who had played on separate teams in earlier matches this semester, joined forces and dominated their opponents, winning 21-13, 21-9 against Erskine and 21-5, 21-9 against UNC.

    “They should be the team to beat for us next semester and I expect them to battle for our (No.) 1 spot as the season approaches,” VanDePerre said.

    TheLady Flames’ No. 1 tandem of seniors Heather Forton (left) and Lexi Kruse edged UNC, 21-19.

    On the men’s side, players competed in single-elimination gold and silver modified brackets with seniors Josh Knapp and Tommy Speelman defeating senior teammates Ben Dowd and Tait Lapham in a gold semifinal showdown between Liberty’s top two teams before upending the Flames’ No. 3 pair of seniors Luke Marine and Tommy Otte in the final. In the silver bracket, Liberty’s No. 4 tandem of sophomore Mason Ellenberger and senior Cooper Guillaume defeated its No. 5 pairing of graduate Bran Anderson and senior Matt Marcinko.

    “It was really great to have both men’s teams have so many pairs and to have them all experience the NCAA beach format of duals,” VanDePerre said. “This is very new for the men and I think overall they enjoyed it. It was also nice to see all of our teams be at the top of both gold and silver brackets. We work really hard to be competitive in the sand and I think it shows both outside and inside. As the men’s beach game continues to grow, we will have to step up our game to remain where we are.”

    Video edited by Kylee Ligle/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant