ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Holly Shelton posted 20 kills, while Anna Moore added 17 kills and six blocks as UNC Asheville stunned Big South-leading Liberty in five sets Saturday night before a packed crowd at Justice Center. The Bulldogs won the match 20-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 15-11.
The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for Asheville (5-14, 1-2 BSC). Liberty had a six-game winning streak broke as the Flames fell to 12-5 overall and 2-1 in the league.
Rachel Wells sparked the Bulldog defense with 19 digs, while freshman Bryn Pfeiffer finished with 14 digs and two service aces.
Freshman setter Katie Davis had 52 assists for the Bulldogs and six blocks. Christine Lakatos added nine kills.
Liberty was led by Caroline Douglas with 17 kills. Loren Thomas and Lillie Happel finished with 10 kills each. Happel chipped in 13 digs. Gabrielle Shipe contributed 17 digs for the Lady Flames. Allie Reynolds had 14 digs. Thomas had five blocks, including three block solos. Jade Craycraft had 44 assists and five blocks for LU.
"What a great win for our team today," commented a delighted Bulldog coach Frederico Santos afterwards. "I'm really proud of how we played today, especially after not playing so well last night against Radford. Liberty has a great team with a lot of weapons, but our girls battled, fought hard and found a way to get a win today. I think our freshmen became sophomores in this match."
Liberty used a late surge in the first set to take the first set 25-20. The Flames hit .316 in the opening game and got five kills from Douglas to take the set.
The Bulldogs roared back in the second set. With six kills from Moore and great blocking, Asheville surged to a 25-20 win to knot the match at 1-1.
In the third set, the Bulldogs led most of the way and built the lead to 18-13 and then 22-18 before the Flames stormed back. LU scored the final seven points of the set to grab a 2-1 lead. The Flames picked up four blocks in the run to stun Asheville for a 25-22 win.
But the young Bulldogs rallied back. Asheville dominated the fourth set most of the way and eventually built the lead to 24-14. Shelton had six kills in the set, while Lakatos contributed four kills. Liberty made the Bulldogs earn the 25th point as it scored four straight points to close to 24-18. However, Moore finished the set off with a kill to send the match into a fifth set.
Asheville took charge of the fifth set as it raced to a 10-4 lead. Shelton had three early kills. Liberty took two timeouts and quickly rallied within 11-10 on a kill from Douglas. Leading 12-11, Moore had a crucial kill to push the lead to 13-11. The Bulldogs got a kill from Meredith Foster to pad the lead to 14-11. Shelton then finished the match with a kill to seal the upset win.
"I'm really proud of the way we responded after that third set," stated Santos. "We played well in that set but didn't put Liberty away and they came back on us. However, we didn't let it get us down. We stuck with the gameplan and kept battling.
"Tonight was a real team effort," added Santos. "Everyone who played tonight made a contribution and keyed our win."
Santos also credited a rowdy Justice Center crowd for the victory.
"I can't say enough about our fans. They were so supportive and really got behind us today," said Santos. "They gave us energy for the entire match."
The Bulldogs are back in action Friday night when they travel to Winthrop for a Big South Conference match at 7 p.m.