CLINTON, S.C. – No. 4 seed Liberty defeated No. 5 seed UNC Asheville in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Big South Volleyball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting Thursday afternoon at the Templeton Center on the campus of Presbyterian College. The Lady Flames will play No. 1 seed Radford Friday afternoon at 4:30pm in the semifinals. It is Liberty’s seventh consecutive semifinal appearance.
After falling behind 7-3 in the fourth, Liberty began its comeback with a 3-0 run to close within a point at 7-6. Trailing 10-13 the Lady Flames went on a 5-0 spurt highlighted by a pair of kills and blocks by Caorline Douglas, giving Liberty a 15-13 advantage. Asheville continued to battle with Anna Moore putting down a kill to get within one at 21-22, but LU scored the last three points to win the set 25-21 and the match 3-1.
Liberty took the first set 25-19. UNC Asheville ran out to a 5-0 lead forcing Liberty coach Shane Pinder to take an early timeout. The Lady Flames responded out of the timeout with a 6-0 run of their own, capped off by a pair of kills by Jade Craycraft. In a first set full of runs, Liberty capitalized on a 7-0 run to take a 15-8 lead. Liberty won the set following a kill by Kendle Rollins. Craycraft featured prominently for the Lady Flames in the first set with seven digs, six assists and four kills.
UNC Asheville evened the match winning the second set 25-17. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 5-1 start after a kill by Katie Davis, forcing Pinder to take an early timeout for the second set in a row. With the score 11-8 the Bulldogs went on a 4-0 run featuring a service ace by Bryn Pfeiffer and a kill from Moore to push the lead to 15-8. Asheville benefitted from a balanced attacked, Catherine Fischer,Christine Lakatos and Meredith Foster each had three kills in the set.
Liberty won a tightly contested third set which saw them trail 7-4 before using a 6-0 run, ending with a Melissa Racz kill, to take a 10-7 lead. Asheville answered with a 3-0 run of its own to tie the score at 10-10. The Lady Flames once again pushed the lead to three at 20-17 before the Bulldogs took the lead at 21-20 on the heels of a 4-0 run. Trailing the set 22-21 LU closed out the set on a 4-0 run to take win the set 25-22 and a 2-1 lead in the match. Douglas was the catalyst for the Lady Flames attack in the set with six kills.
Craycraft led the way for Liberty posting a double-double with 43 assists and 18 digs. Douglas finished the match with 17 kills, while Nzea McQuitery registered seven blocks defensively. UNC Asheville was led by Lakatos’ 13 kills and 11 digs and 20 digs from Rachel Wells.
Liberty improves to 11-17 on the year, while UNC Asheville ends its season at 17-14. Liberty will be making its 15th appearance in the Big South Volleyball Championship semifinals.
UNC Asheville Head Coach Frederico Santos:
“I think our team fought very well. It was a very entertaining match. It was difficult for us because it came down to close points that we didn’t execute well and that is when the opponent got the better of us. I still think it was a great season for UNC Asheville volleyball and I hope we can be here again.”
Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder:
“The first round is never easy. Everybody is trying to feel out the match, and there are always some nerves. We got off to a slow start, and it felt like we were fighting an uphill battle all afternoon and never completely got into a rhythm. Credit Asheville for some of that, and some of it was us. In the last two sets, credit our outside hitters, as Lillie and Caroline started taking better swings. Also, Jade made better decisions in the last two sets. All-around, it was a great team effort in the first round.”