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    December 3, 2021 Chapel Hill, N.C. RSS |

    Liberty University’s men’s and women’s racquetball teams slipped from first to second in the combined team standings after the second of four Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Racquetball Conference (MACRC) tournaments, played Nov. 12-14 at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, where 75 student-athletes representing seven schools played 179 matches over three days.

    “We only have 10 players whereas UNC had enough to form two and a half teams and NC State brought in enough for two teams,” Liberty Head Coach Danny Rodriguez said. “UNC has two of the top players in the conference and overtook us.”

    The Flames and Lady Flames have amassed a total of 3,448 points, trailing only UNC (3,518) and well ahead of third-place North Carolina State (3,151), fourth-place James Madison University (1,940), fifth-place Virginia (1,583), and sixth-place Appalachian State University (1,005).

    Stephen Fitzgerald and Trevor Melton practice in the LaHaye Recreation & Fitness Center.

    In the men’s standings, the Flames (2,588) rank second to the Tar Heels (2,862) and are well ahead of the third-place Cavaliers (1,433), fourth-place Dukes (1,410), and fifth-place NC State (1,205). Meanwhile, on the women’s side, the Lady Flames (860) trail the first-place Wolfpack (1,946) and lead UNC (656) and JMU (530).

    “Our team played really well, even our new players,” Rodriguez said. “Both the men and women players have shown some big-time progression from the start of the season. We have three women and about five guys that had never played in a conference tournament and they did really well.”

    Liberty got first-place finishes from senior Evan Keener and graduate Seth Jordan in the men’s Division 1-2 Red doubles bracket as well as sophomore Joseph Dennis and junior Timothy Adams in men’s Division 3 Gold doubles play. Individually, senior Trevor Melton also finished first in the men’s Division 1-2 Red singles bracket and team manager Hope Lassiter, a former Lady Flames figure skater and first-year School of Law student, won the women’s Division 1-2 White bracket.

    Ryan Tomlinson teamed up with fellow senior Stephen Fitzgerald to finish runner-up in the men’s Division 1-2 Red doubles draw as did freshmen Andrew Cook and Jacob Knox in Division 4 Gold doubles play. Keener placed second in men’s Division 1-2 Red singles, as did Knox in men’s Division 4 Red and senior Ivana Quintanilla (women’s Division 1-2 Red) and junior Sadie Barham (women’s Division 1-2 White).

    Graduate Garrison Walker joined Melton to finish third in the men’s Division 1-2 Gold Doubles draw, with Walker also taking third in Division 1-2 Red singles play and Fitzgerald third in Division 3 Gold.

    Ivana Quintanilla (from left), Abigail Iandolo, and Danielle Passburg are the Lady Flames’ top three singles players.

    Quintanilla and junior Abigail Iandolo came in third in women’s Division 1-2 doubles.

    Fourth-place finishers included Jordan (men’s Division 1-2 Gold singles), Fitzgerald (men’s Division 1-2 Blue singles), Cook (men’s Division 4 Gold singles), Barham and junior Danielle Passburg (women’s Division 1-2 doubles), Iandolo (women’s Division 1-2 Gold singles), and Passburg (women’s Division 1-2 Red singles).

    “We’ve got the skill level to compete with these teams and the last two tournaments have been a wake-up call,” Rodriguez said. “We have kind of surprised a lot of people (with) how well we have played.”

    In the spring semester, Liberty will travel to two more MACRC tournaments, hosted by NC State the last weekend in January and UNC Chapel Hill the last weekend in February.


    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer