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Liberty Falls to Villanova in Straight Sets in Season Opener

August 25, 2017  Charlottesville, Va.  RSS
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Victoria Baptista led Liberty in kills and digs against Villanova, Friday.

Victoria Baptista led Liberty in kills and digs against Villanova, Friday.

The Liberty volleyball team opened up its 2017 season schedule with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-20) setback to Villanova, Friday at Virginia's Memorial Gymnasium.

Villanova (1-0) claimed the first match of the 2017 Cavalier Classic, while Liberty (0-1) fell in its season opener for the second year in a row. Nearly 10 years after the two teams' last meeting, the Wildcats now lead the all-time series, 3-1.

For the match, Villanova outhit Liberty, .307-.131, despite Liberty holding a 5-4 advantage in blocks. The Wildcats led, 4-0 in aces and 52-40 in digs.

Villanova's Darcy Wolf led all players with 12 kills, while Emma Decker dished out a match-high 41 assists. Allison Fitzgerald posted two aces and 11 digs, while Regan Lough collected 13 digs.

Victoria Baptista and Gabrielle Vess tied for the Liberty team lead with six kills each, while Anna Willey and Amaya Williams both recorded 11 assists. Baptista collected 13 digs and Anna Gragg registered a match-high three blocks. 

Set one was tightly contested early on, as a pair of Jenna Culhan kills drew the Lady Flames to within 11-9. With Villanova beginning to gain separation, Casey Goodwin's block narrowed the gap to 16-13. The Wildcats then staged a 3-0 run as part of an extended 9-3 rally, giving Villanova a 25-16 set-one victory.

During the opening set, Villanova outhit Liberty, .217-.083, getting six kills from Wolf. Liberty posted three set-one blocks.

Villanova raced to a 25-11 victory in the second session, hitting .292 compared to .091 for the Lady Flames. The Wildcats led by just three, 9-6, before outscoring Liberty, 16-5, over the final 21 serves.

Set three saw the teams battle to an 11-11 tie early on before Villanova went on an 11-5 run to gain the lead at 22-16. Vess scored three late kills to draw the Lady Flames to within 24-20, but a kill by Amanda Pederson-Henry then gave Villanova the sweep.

Villanova outhit Liberty, .361-.212, in the final set. Vess, playing for the first time in the match, scored six kills on nine attempts, while Mallory Potts countered with six kills for the Wildcats.

Liberty will play two matches tomorrow to finish out play at the Cavalier Classic. The Lady Flames take on the host Virginia Cavaliers at noon before facing Hofstra at 4:30 p.m.