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Liberty Holds Off Central Michigan in Five

August 30, 2008  Richmond, Va.  RSS
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Nicki Scripko helped Liberty improve to 2-0 with a team-high 15 kills and a career-best 17 digs.

Nicki Scripko helped Liberty improve to 2-0 with a team-high 15 kills and a career-best 17 digs.

The Liberty volleyball team claimed a hard-fought 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 25-17, 12-25, 15-9) victory in a back-and-forth match against Central Michigan on Saturday morning. Nicki Scripko's 15 kills and career-high 17 digs helped the Lady Flames improve to 2-0 at the VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational, at the Alltel Pavilion.

The Lady Flames and host VCU are now the only remaining unbeaten squads in the six-team invitational, but the in-state foes are not scheduled to meet this weekend. Liberty's win was its first in seven matches against Mid-American Conference (MAC) opponents in program history.

Central Michigan, which had opened its season with a 3-0 sweep of Maryland on Friday, evens its record at 1-1.

The Chippewas owned the lead through the early stages of set one. A Kate Fissel kill had her team on top by a 9-8 margin. Brittany Pacella (R-Jr., RS, Reading, Pa.) then came up with a solo block on the very next point. Her play sparked an 8-2 Liberty surge, which gave the Lady Flames a lead they did not relinquish. Scripko's sixth kill of the set finished off a 25-21 Liberty triumph. The Lady Flames' defense played a key role in the victory, notching 24 digs during the opening set. Kallie Corbin (Jr., S, Beaverton, Ore.) led the way with seven digs.

A quartet of Jessica Nelson (R-Sr., OH, Tokyo, Japan) kills helped Liberty race out to a 14-8 advantage in set two. The Lady Flames were still on top by a 21-19 margin before the Chippewas closed out a 25-22 decision with a 6-1 burst. The set-ending rally was highlighted by two aces by Kaitlyn Hurt and a pair of Whitney Evers kills. During the set, Evers hit .714 with five kills.

The turning point in Liberty's 25-17 victory in the third set was a seven-point serving run by Pacella. Her team trailed, 6-4, when she stepped up to serve. Seven points later, her ace put Liberty on top for good at 11-6. Karyl Bacon (So., OH/DS, Temecula, Calif.), who has split time between outside hitter and libero during the season's first two matches, shone offensively in set three. She paced all players with five kills, helping Liberty record a .391 team attack percentage for the stanza.

Central Michigan never trailed during the fourth set, as the Chippewas forced a fifth and deciding set with a convincing 25-12 win. Evers again starred for CMU, serving for two of her squad's four aces and leading the way with five kills. As a team, the Chippewas hit .484 for the set.

Liberty then seized control of the fifth set immediately, opening the stanza with a 4-0 burst. Central Michigan got no closer than two points down the rest of the way, as the Lady Flames pulled out a 15-9 decision. Nelson starred for the Lady Flames in set five, posting a pair of kills and two solo blocks.

Scripko was not the Lady Flames' lone offensive standout, as Nelson and Chelaine McCarty (Jr., MB, Houston, Ala.) added nine kills apiece. Setter Corbin notched her first double-double of the year, totaling 40 assists and 17 digs. Pacella continued her solid tournament showing, finishing with 13 digs and a match-high five blocks. Both totals set new career highs for the right-side hitter.

Central Michigan was led by the tandem of Evers and Kate Fissel, who totaled 17 and 16 kills, respectively. The Chippewas' Alexis Lonneman chipped in with 24 digs, leading all players.

Liberty will close out its competition at the VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational at 2 p.m. this afternoon, when the Lady Flames face Maryland (0-1). Coach Shane Pinder's squad will seek its second victory over an ACC opponent in as many days, after sweeping N.C. State, 3-0, on Friday.