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Liberty Battles Back for 3-2 Victory at Winthrop

October 24, 2015  Rock Hill, S.C.  RSS
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Gabrielle Vess scored 10 kill on Saturday at Winthrop.

Gabrielle Vess scored 10 kill on Saturday at Winthrop.

The Liberty volleyball team battled back from a 2-1 deficit, downing Winthrop, 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 20-25, 25-16, 15-12) Saturday at Winthrop Coliseum.

Liberty improves to 12-10 on the season, 7-2 in Big South play after its second straight win this weekend. The Lady Flames are 3-0 in five-set conference matches this year. Winthrop, playing a five-set match for the second day in a row, falls to 9-15, 4-5 in league play.

With the win, Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder tied former Liberty and Gardner-Webb Head Coach Chris Phillips for third among all-time Big South volleyball coaches with 220 career victories.

Saturday's match was the fourth straight series meeting at Winthrop Coliseum that went a full five sets, a streak dating back to the 2010 Big South Volleyball Championship semifinal.

For the match, Liberty outhit Winthrop, .282-.175. The Lady Flames posted a season-high 13 blocks, compared to seven for the Eagles. Winthrop led, 10-4 in aces and 64-63 in digs.

Caroline Douglas tied for a match high with 19 kills, while Gabrielle Vess and Jade Vorster scored 10 kills apiece. Vorster and Hannah Weidner both had five blocks. Anna Willey totaled 51 assists and 13 digs, for her 10th double-double this year. Margaret Latchford collected a team-high 16 digs, while Michelle Melendez served up two aces.

Nikki Drost was one of four Eagles in double figures in kills, recording 19 kills and 16 digs. Brianna Gray and Emma Weakland tallied 16 kills apiece, while Annelies Dokter totaled 12 kills and 13 digs. Mallary McFadden contributed match highs in digs (20) and aces (5). Madilyn McCarty dished out a match-high 60 assists.

Drost gave Winthrop an 18-14 set-one lead with a kill, capping a 5-0 run. Liberty answered with a five-point rally of its own, taking the lead, 19-18. The Eagles then served up three aces during a 5-0 spurt, making it 23-19. Douglas sent down a pair of late kills, but Drost sealed the 25-22 win with her fifth kill.

Liberty outhit Winthrop, .379-.250 during the opening frame, although the Eagles served up five aces. Douglas scored eight kills for the Lady Flames in the opening stanza.

The Lady Flames responded to take set two, 25-22. Liberty led, 19-16, after a Willey/Vorster block. Winthrop then took the lead, 22-21, following a 6-2 run. Douglas then scored a kill and posted a solo block, sparking a set-clinching 4-0 rally.

During the second set, Liberty outhit Winthrop, .257-.091. Liberty's Douglas and Winthrop's Dokter both scored six kills.

Trailing, 20-17, in set three, Liberty scored three straight points to tie it at 20-all. Winthrop then posted three consecutive blocks, riding a 5-0 run to take the third session, 25-20.

Winthrop hit .220 during set three, compared to .118 for the Lady Flames. McCarty recorded four out of Winthrop's five blocks.

The Lady Flames raced to a 25-16 set-four victory, sending the match to a decisive fifth session. Liberty outhit Winthrop, .306-.139 during the stanza, with Jade Vorster scoring five kills.

Liberty led set five, 8-6, at the changeover. Leading, 9-8, the Lady Flames' 4-1 run staked them to a 13-9 advantage. After back-to-back Winthrop kills, Douglas sent down a kill for set point, 14-11. A service error by the Eagles clinched the 15-12 Liberty win.

The guests outhit Winthrop, .467-.200, in the final session, with Liberty scoring seven kills and the Eagles recording six attack errors.

Liberty returns home for its next three matches to wrap up the home portion of its schedule. The Lady Flames welcome Commonwealth rival Radford to the Vines Center, next Friday at 7 p.m.