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FGCU Clinches ASUN Regular-Season Title, Tops Liberty in 4 Sets

November 10, 2018  Fort Myers, Fla.  RSS
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Margaret Latchford entered second place in program history in career digs on Saturday at FGCU.

Margaret Latchford entered second place in program history in career digs on Saturday at FGCU.

Liberty scored a 25-20 set-one victory over FGCU, before the host Eagles won the final three sets and the match, 3-1 (20-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-16), in Saturday's regular-season finale at Alico Arena.   

With the win, the Eagles' 13th in a row, FGCU (24-6, 15-1 ASUN) wrapped up sole possession of the ASUN regular-season championship. The Lady Flames (14-16, 10-6) finished fourth in the conference standings.

Notable Numbers
• For the match, FGCU outhit Liberty, .210-.171. The Eagles led 12-4 in blocks while Liberty held a 57-52 advantage in digs.

• FGCU's Sharonda Pickering scored a match-high 12 kills at a .647 pace and added five blocks. Daniele Serrano led all players with six blocks, while Dana Axner collected a match-high 22 digs.

• Lilly Kruse scored 10 kills and tied her career high with three aces for Liberty, her second career 10-kill match. Hannah Morris dished out a match-high 22 assists, while Margaret Latchford collected 18 digs and Victoria Baptista corralled 10 digs.

Match Summary
SET 1
• Liberty came out swinging during the opening set, building a 15-8 lead after a rally that was capped by a Kruse ace. The Lady Flames held a comfortable lead throughout and went on to win set one, 25-20.

• Set one saw Liberty score 19 kills at a .385 pace, compared to 10 kills at .167 for FGCU. Casey Goodwin was sensational with seven kills, hitting .500.

SET 2
• The hosts led set two, 20-16, before the Lady Flames rallied to tie it at 20-all with a four-point run capped by a Payton Carter ace. The Eagles responded by outscoring Liberty 5-1 down the stretch to take the second set, 25-21.

• FGCU outhit Liberty, .209-.132, during the second session, while Cortney VanLiew scored five kills.

SET 3
• The Eagles built a 24-13 lead in the third set before Liberty fought off five set-point tries. However, Pickering ended the set at 25-18 with a kill.

• During set three, FGCU hit .250 and posted four blocks to help limit Liberty to a .088 hitting percentage. Kruse led all players with five set-three kills.

SET 4
• FGCU finished off the match with a 25-16 set-four victory during which the Eagles outhit the Lady Flames, .222-.034 and served up four aces. Liberty's Aspen Thompson hit 3-0-5, providing a spark during the final set.

Quick Hits
• Latchford passed Nikki Keznor (1991-94) into second place in program history on Saturday with 1,748 career digs. She trails only Kelly Haseman (2008-11) on Liberty's all-time career digs list, as Haseman finished her career with 1,989 digs.

• Liberty's 10-6 conference record gives the Lady Flames the most conference wins by a volleyball team in its first year in the ASUN since 2012, when Northern Kentucky went 12-6.

• This is the 13th time in program history, and first time since 2016, that the Lady Flames have posted double-digit conference victories in a single season.

• Liberty is the first team since ETSU in 2005 to qualify for the ASUN Volleyball Championship in its first year in the conference.

Up Next
The Lady Flames will compete in the 2018 ASUN Volleyball Championship, hosted by Kennesaw State at the Convocation Center in Kennesaw, Ga., next Thursday through Saturday. Fourth-seeded Liberty will take on No. 5 seed Stetson on Thursday at 5 p.m., with the winner advancing to the conference semifinal against top-seeded FGCU, Friday at 5 p.m.