Liberty earned a 25-18, set-one win before the visiting Elon Phoenix rallied to win the match in four sets (18-25, 27-25, 25-20, 25-23), Saturday in the final match of the Liberty Invitational at the Vines Center.
Elon (4-3) finished the Liberty Invitational with a 1-2 record, while the Lady Flames (1-5) went winless in three matches on the weekend.
Casey Goodwin represented Liberty on the all-tournament team, while Elon's Sydney Busa was also named to the all-tournament squad.
Liberty outhit Elon, .160-.145, for the match, but the Phoenix scored 61 kills, compared to 46 for the Lady Flames. Elon led, 102-95, in digs, while Liberty led in blocks, 7-5.
Busa led all players with 21 kills and added 26 digs, while Kam Terry chipped in with 20 kills, three aces and 10 digs. Kodi Garcia contributed 47 assists and 17 digs, while Maddie Jaudon collected 25 digs and Bella Seman totaled 16 digs.
Gabrielle Vess scored 16 kills and added a career-high 22 digs, while Victoria Baptista registered nine kills and 16 digs. Anna Willey recorded a double-double with 21 assists and 11 digs, while Goodwin posted a match-high five blocks. Margaret Latchford collected 30 digs, her fourth career 30-dig contest.
Set one saw a 16-16 tie after 32 serves. Liberty then reeled off the next five points, getting a pair of kills from Vess while taking a 21-16 lead. In total, the Lady Flames outscored Elon, 9-2, down the stretch to pull away for the 25-18 victory.
Liberty hit .189 in set one, while the Phoenix attacked at a -.064 pace. Vess paced all players with five kills.
In set two, Liberty broke a 20-20 tie with a 3-0 rally that featured two aces from Hannah Morris. Elon rallied to tie it at 23-all before a Phoenix miscue gave Liberty set point at 24-23. The guests fought off two set-point tries, and a pair of Busa kills put Elon ahead, 26-25. An Elon block sealed set two, 27-25.
The Phoenix scored 20 set-two kills, hitting .194 while getting six kills each from Busa and Terry. Liberty hit .088 with 11 kills.
Elon used a 7-0 run to turn a 14-13 deficit into a 20-14 lead, as three aces from Terry keyed the rally. Liberty narrowed the gap to three points twice, but was unable to overcome the margin, falling 25-20.
Busa (10 kills) and Terry (5) combined for 15 out of Elon's 16 kills in set three, as the team hit .282, compared to .270 for the Lady Flames.
Liberty appeared on its way to a fifth set, leading set four, 22-19 following a kill by Anna Gragg. However, Busa and Terry both sent down two kills on a 5-0 Elon burst. After a Gragg kill narrowed the gap to 24-23, Julia Crabtree scored the winning kill.
The Lady Flames will make their first trip to Colorado, competing in the Amy Svoboda Memorial Classic, hosted by Air Force in Colorado Springs, Colo. Liberty will take on Southern Utah and Air Force next Friday, before meeting Air Force again on Saturday to wrap up the tournament.
Liberty Invitational All-Tournament Team Erika Pritchard, Maryland (MVP) Gia Milana, Maryland Kelsey Wicinski, Maryland Christen Sikora, Furman Jamila Johnson, Furman Sydney Busa, Elon Casey Goodwin, Liberty