No. 3 seed Liberty powered to a 2-0 lead over Radford during the quarterfinal round of the 2015 Big South Volleyball Championship. The sixth-seeded Highlanders then rallied to win the next three sets, claiming a 3-2 (23-25, 17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 17-15) victory, Thursday at High Point's Millis Center.
The Highlanders (14-14) advance to Saturday's second semifinal, facing No. 7 seed Campbell at 7 p.m. The Lady Flames' 2015 season ends with an even 14-14 record. Liberty is now 4-3 all-time against Radford in conference tournament play, with the Highlanders winning the last two postseason meetings in five sets.
For the match, Radford outhit Liberty, .226-.186, as the Highlanders also led, 12-9 in blocks and 95-80 in digs. The Lady Flames held a 9-5 advantage in service aces.
Radford's Megan Short scored a match-high 25 kills at a .524 pace. Maddie Palmer followed with 16 kills, while Valerie Gonzalez sent down 11 kills and recorded seven blocks. Haley Kleespies totaled 59 assists, 15 digs and three aces, while Savanna Burton collected 23 digs. Kelby Jackson (19 digs), Cheyanne James (14) and Kaylor Nash (12) all surpassed 10 digs for the Highlanders.
Liberty had three players register double-doubles. Gabrielle Vess led the team with 18 kills to go with 14 digs. Caroline Douglas scored 17 kills and collected 15 digs. Douglas ends her career eighth on Liberty's all-time list with 1,360 career kills. Anna Willey dished out 48 assists and added 12 digs. Margaret Latchford collected 26 digs and served up three aces. Jade Vorster scored nine kills and had four blocks, giving her 462 blocks for her four-year career. Susan Babcock tied her season high with four aces, while Sirena Vorster posted five blocks.
Radford staged a 5-0 run during set one, taking the lead, 18-15, following a Gonzalez block. The Highlanders led, 21-17, when Palmer scored a kill. Babcock capped a 3-0 Liberty surge with an ace. After a service error, Liberty scored the next three points to take a 23-22 advantage. In total, Liberty outscored Radford, 8-2, down the stretch for a 25-23 victory.
The Highlanders outhit the Lady Flames, .237-.229, during the opening session. Vess scored five kills, while Palmer responded with five kills for Radford.
Douglas recorded a kill and an ace and Sirena Vorster scored two kills during a 7-1 set-two rally, pushing Liberty's advantage to 21-13. The Lady Flames finished off the 25-17 victory on an 11-5 burst overall.
Vess and Douglas sent down four kills each in the second stanza, as the Lady Flames hit .286. Radford attacked at a .054 pace, led by Short's four kills.
Liberty built a quick, 13-7 lead in set three after a Babcock ace. Radford then staged a 5-0 run. Vess gave Liberty its last lead, 18-17, with a kill. The Highlanders outscored the Lady Flames, 8-3, over the final 11 serves to take the set, 25-21.
Radford hit .262 during the third session, compared to .149 for the Lady Flames. Short led all players with eight kills.
In the fourth set, the Lady Flames rallied into the lead, 19-18, following a three-point run that featured a block and back-to-back kills by Vess and Willey. Palmer scored two kills and added a service ace, propelling Radford to a 7-1, set-clinching spurt to tie the match, 2-2, with a 25-20 triumph.
During set four, the Highlanders outhit Liberty, .163-.023, as both teams posted five blocks. Short scored five kills, while Liberty's Sirena Vorster assisted on three blocks.
Liberty led set five, 8-6, at the changeover. Radford later tied the score, 11-11, with Short's seventh kill of the set. Latchford then sparked a three-point Lady Flames run with an ace. The Highlanders fought off four match-point tries in total, as Palmer tied it twice, 14-14 and 15-15. Burton then clinched the match for Radford with consecutive kills.
The two teams combined for 24 kills and just two attack errors in set five, as Radford outhit Liberty, .500-.333. Short sent down seven kills, while Douglas scored four kills.