Liberty Ends Season With 3-1 NIVC Setback to WCU
The host Liberty Lady Flames came out on fire to open the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC), winning set one 25-15 over Western Carolina. However, the visiting Catamounts rallied for a 3-1 (15-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-19) win over the Lady Flames, Saturday at Liberty Arena.
Western Carolina (19-12) advances to tomorrow’s NIVC second-round match against Toledo, who also rallied for a four-set win, over Clemson, this evening. The Lady Flames’ breakthrough season ends at 23-9, as Liberty made its second NIVC appearance and first since 2019.
• WCU outhit Liberty .277-.159 for the match, as the Catamounts posted 18 blocks compared to three for the Lady Flames. The guests also led in aces (6-5), while Liberty held advantages in digs (55-43) and kills (61-41). Despite holding a 20-kill edge over WCU, the Lady Flame committed 37 attack errors to just 10 for the visitors.
• Bailey Hartsough and Livi Weidmann (.500) tied for the team lead with 11 kills each for the Catamounts. Eden Punch totaled 11 blocks, one block shy of the Liberty Arena record. Brooklyn Poling recorded eight blocks while Johnna Robinson posted six rejections. Destinee Dorsey and Merry Gebel collected 12 digs each, while Hartsough served up a match-high three aces.
• Lydia Burts hit .400 with a match-high 17 kills for the Lady Flames, while Kate Phillips registered her 12th double-double of the season with 16 kills and 10 digs. Kamryn Bacus (11) and Madison Blane (10) both reached double figures in kills, while Delaney Dilfer dished out a match-high 51 assists. Erica Lowery collected 14 digs and Trinity Watts totaled 10 digs.
• Liberty connected on each of its first eight attack attempts in the first set, cruising to a 25-15 victory.
• WCU turned the tables, scoring five out of the last six points of set two to win 25-21. The Catamounts kept the defensive pressure on, outhitting Liberty .476-.000 in a 25-16 set-three win before holding the Lady Flames to a .077 hitting percentage in the final set.
• Western Carolina evens the all-time series with Liberty at 2-2, as the Catamounts won the last meeting, Sept. 26, 1992.
• The Catamounts are making their first postseason appearance. Meanwhile, Liberty is 2-2 all-time in NIVC matches, earning a spot in the 2019 NIVC quarterfinals.
• Liberty’s 23 wins this season were its most since going 23-10 during the 2014 season.
• The Lady Flames made a 13-win improvement over last season, its biggest year-to-year win improvement since 2006 (11-18) to 2007 (27-9).
• Dilfer recorded her 10th 50-assist match this season, the most 50-assist contest by a Lady Flame since 2007 (Kallie Corbin – 12). Dilfer also set a new program 25-point rally-scoring record for single-season assists this season (1,371).
• Dilfer eclipsed the 3,000 career-assist mark in today’s match and enters her senior season with 3,039 career assists.
• Bacus finished the season with a team-high 357 kills and a team-leading 21 10-kill matches. Burts scored 10 or more kills 20 times, while Trinity Watts ad Phillips both had 19 double-digit kill matches. Lowery posted a team-leading 27 double-digit dig contests.