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Long Island Halts Liberty's 16-Match Winning Streak

November 23, 2007  Richmond, Va.  RSS
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Setter Kallie Corbin paced Liberty in both assists (35) and blocks (4) against Long Island, Friday afternoon.

Setter Kallie Corbin paced Liberty in both assists (35) and blocks (4) against Long Island, Friday afternoon.

Long Island pulled out a back-and-forth opening game against Liberty, during Friday afternoon's opening match of the VCU Thanksgiving Tournament, at the Alltel Pavilion. The Blackbirds then went on to hand the Lady Flames their first 3-0 (32-30, 30-26, 30-23) setback of the season, ending Liberty's school-record 16-match winning streak.

With its eighth-consecutive victory, Long Island improves to 22-12 on the season. The Blackbirds, like the Lady Flames, are preparing for the NCAA Tournament after capturing the Northeast Conference (NEC) title. Meanwhile, Big South champion Liberty drops to 26-8 after suffering its first setback since a 3-1 loss at Winthrop on Sept. 29.

The opening game proved to be the most competitive contest of the afternoon, including 15 ties and 10 lead changes. A Trevon Dyson kill lifted the Blackbirds to a 29-27 lead and gave them a pair of game points. Liberty responded with the next three points, though, earning a game point of its own after a Kallie Corbin (So., S, Beaverton, Ore.) kill made the score 30-29 in favor of the Lady Flames.

Long Island then closed out a 32-30, opening game triumph with three-straight kills. Martina Racic, one of three Blackbirds with five kills in the first stanza, put down consecutive kills to wrap it up. Nicki Scripko (Fr., RS/OH, Fayetteville, N.C.) hit .556 during the first game and paced all players with six kills for Liberty.

Jessica Nelson (R-Jr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) stepped up for the Lady Flames in game two, posting a team-high six kills and eight digs. However, her teammates were only able to accumulate seven kills and Long Island got the upper hand again.

The second game was tightly contested throughout, and one of Nelson's kills knotted the score at 24 apiece. Long Island then sealed its 30-26 victory by notching six of the stanza's last eight points. Racic provided the Blackbirds' last two kills of the game once again, sending her team into the intermission with a 2-0 advantage.

Long Island hit a match-high .317 during game three, but Liberty kept it close for the first part of the stanza. The Lady Flames were within one point at 11-10, before the Blackbirds broke it open by tallying seven of the next nine points. NEC Player of the Year Shelby Heggie contributed two kills to the run, which lifted Long Island to an 18-12 edge.

The Blackbirds finished off the 3-0 victory with a 30-23 decision, aided by six Racic kills. Big South Freshman of the Year Scripko hit .625 with five kills for Liberty during the final game, but it was not enough to stave off defeat.

Scripko and Nelson both finished with double-doubles for the Lady Flames. Scripko's 14th double-double of the season included a team-high 14 kills and 10 digs. The rookie also paced Liberty with her .417 attack percentage. Nelson totaled a dozen kills and a team-best 15 digs, good for her 18th double-double.

Freshmen Karyl Bacon (OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.) and Rebecca Waneka (L/DS, Colorado Springs, Colo.) also reached double figures in the dig category, with 14 and 10 respectively. Waneka's 10 digs marked a career high in her first-ever start at libero.

Corbin recorded six kills, 35 assists, nine digs and a team-high four blocks. The Oregon native, whose performance made her the first Liberty setter to reach the 1,500-assist milestone since Kristin Colson in 2002, also hit .357 on the afternoon.

Long Island's Racic paced all players with 15 kills and hit .351 in the process. Heggie chipped in with 12 kills and a match-best five blocks.

Svetlana Simic came up with 23 digs for the Blackbirds, while Martina Wagner compiled nine kills, two aces and 11 digs.

Liberty will return to action at 4:30 p.m. this afternoon, when the Lady Flames square off with Georgetown (5-25) at the Alltel Pavilion. The match will represent the Lady Flames' final tune-up for the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament.