Freshman Hannah Weidner tied for the team lead with 11 kills on Friday at Radford.
Conference-leading Liberty traveled to face defending Big South champion Radford on Friday at the Dedmon Center in a clash of two of the top teams in the league. The host Highlanders prevailed, 3-0 (25-18, 29-27, 25-16), as the Lady Flames saw their 13-match winning streak end, sustaining their first loss in over a month.
With the win, its fourth in a row, Radford (18-7, 8-2 Big South) moves within one match of conference leader Liberty (22-6, 9-1). The two teams split the regular-season series this year, with Liberty downing the Highlanders, 3-1, on Sept. 26 at the Vines Center.
The Lady Flames entered the match with a 13-match overall winning streak, a 12-match regular-season conference winning streak and a 9-0 record in away matches. Liberty's 13-match winning streak, which started on Sept. 20 with a 3-2 win over Wright State, was the team's longest since a program-record 16-match streak in 2007. The Highlanders extend their home winning streak to 10 contests, dating back to last season.
Radford hit .333 with 52 kills on the evening, while Liberty scored 36 kills at a .198 pace. The teams tied in digs, 41-41 and blocks, 4-4, while the hosts held a 3-1 edge in service aces.
Liberty's duo of redshirt junior Caroline Douglas and freshman Hannah Weidner tied for the team lead with 11 kills apiece. Junior Caila Stapleton dished out 31 assists, while classmate Jade Vorster posted a match-high four blocks. Vorster's 130 total blocks this season are the second most in a single season in the program's rally-scoring history. Senior Gabrielle Shipe collected a match-best 15 digs, moving past Theresa Bream (1987-90) into third place all-time at Liberty with 1,643 career digs in the process.
Radford senior Rachel Wiechecki led all players with 15 kills and added 13 digs for a double-double. Freshman Maddie Palmer hit .500 with 10 kills, while Savanna Burton scored eight kills. Senior Jena Braden totaled a match-high 46 assists and nine digs.
Set one remained close through its middle stages, as a Weidner kill drew the Lady Flames to within one at 15-14. Wiechecki then reeled off three kills during a 5-1 rally, extending Radford's lead to 20-15. Vorster later sent down a kill, trimming the margin to 22-18, but the hosts scored the final three points of the set to win, 25-18.
Radford outhit Liberty, .237-.061, during set one, although the Lady Flames posted four blocks. Wiechecki led all players with five kills, while Jade Vorster recorded four rejections.
Liberty appeared poised to win the second set, leading 21-16 after back-to-back kills by Douglas and Gabrielle Vess. However, Radford followed with a 5-0 surge to inch ahead, 22-21, before the Lady Flames rebounded to take a 24-23 lead after three Highlander errors. Emma Deininger and Wiechecki scored consecutive kills for a 25-24 edge. Liberty fought off a total of three set-point tries, before a Wiechecki ace clinched the set, 29-27, giving Radford a 2-0 match lead.
Both teams hit .256 from the floor during the middle session. Douglas scored seven kills, while Wiechecki countered with five kills.
Radford closed out the match sweep with a 25-16, set-three victory. The Highlanders hit .567 compared to .280 for the Lady Flames. The Highlanders led the set from start to finish. Radford's Burton and Palmer both recorded six kills, while Douglas sent down six kills of her own for the visitors.
The Lady Flames travel to North Carolina for a pair of conference matches next weekend. Liberty will play at High Point on Friday at 7 p.m., before taking on Campbell at 4 p.m. on Saturday.