For the second day in a row, Liberty won set two, 26-24, but the UNI Panthers claimed sets three and four to take the match (25-23, 24-26, 25-18, 25-21), Saturday at Strahan Arena.
UNI evened its record at 1-1, while Liberty remains in search of its first win at 0-2.
Notable Numbers • For the match, the Panthers outhit the Lady Flames, .221-.214. Liberty held a 12-9 advantage in blocks, while UNI led 70-57 in digs.
• UNI's Karlie Taylor scored a match-high 23 kills to go along with 14 digs, while Kate Busswitz scored 19 kills. Rachel Koop led all players with 46 assists, while Abbi Stack collected a team-best 17 digs.
• Liberty's Anna Gragg hit .593 with 17 kills while also adding five blocks. Casey Goodwin totaled 12 kills and five blocks, while Macy Phillips collected a match-high 24 digs. Hannah Morris dished out 38 assists, Rajini Fitmaurice collected a season-best 12 digs and Kailey Macy totaled a match-high seven blocks.
Head Coach Trevor Johnson "It was a tough loss today to a really good team. I thought our middles played great today and were efficient. Macy Phillips came up with some great digs in crucial moments. Back home to get better."
Match Summary SET 1 • Set one was as played as tightly as it gets, featuring 15 ties. Liberty led 20-19 after a kill by Fitzmaurice.However, UNI went on a 5-2 run to lead 24-22. After a Liberty sideout, the Panthers scored to win 25-23.
• The Lady Flames outhit the Panthers .242-.161 in the opening session.
SET 2 • Trailing 21-19 in set two, Liberty got three combo blocks from Goodwin and Macy during a 5-2 rally as the Lady Flames gained set point at 24-23. UNI tied it at 24-24, but a pair of Panther errors sealed Liberty's 26-24 win.
• Liberty held UNI to a .135 attack percentage during the second set.
SET 3 • UNI led for nearly the entire third set, hitting .467 on the way to a 25-18 win. SET 4 • Liberty appeared to be on the way to forcing a decisive fifth set, leading set four 19-13 after scoring five straight points. However, the Panthers tied it at 19-19 with a six-point run, and closed out the match, 25-21. UNI outscored Liberty 12-2 down the stretch.
Quick Hits • UNI, which finished last year listed No. 22 in RPI, was listed among "others receiving votes" in the AVCA Division I Preseason Coaches Poll.
• Liberty is one of 12 NCAA Division I volleyball teams to open the 2019 season with back-to-back matches against teams that finished the 2018 season in the Top 25 in RPI.
• Gragg passed Ashley Webber (2005-08) into eighth place in program history with 322 career blocks. The senior entered this season in a tie for 10th place in career blocks.
• UNI is now 2-0 all-time against Liberty in volleyball. The Panthers won the first meeting, 3-0, Sept. 13, 2008 in Manhattan, Kan.
• Phillips' 24 digs are the most by a Liberty player since Margaret Latchford collected 24 digs at Lipscomb, Nov. 4, 2018.
Up Next Liberty opens its home schedule with the Liberty Volleyball Invitational next weekend, taking on Elon (10 a.m.) and Virginia Tech (7 p.m.) on Saturday before facing Davidson on Sunday at 1 p.m.