CHARLESTON, S.C.: - In a rematch of the 2001 tournament final, top seeded Liberty (20-12) defeated No .3 Radford (17-15) in three sets on Sunday afternoon in the championship game of the Big South Volleyball Championship presented by Musco Lighting, at the Buccaneer Field House on the campus of Charleston Southern University.
A kill by Megan McWhorter would put Radford on the board first in set one. Rachel Wiechecki would send in a kill to give the Lady Flames the slim lead, 6-5. Liberty would go up three, 13-10, before two errors and a Radford kill from Emily Hayes would tie the set up at 13-13. With the set knotted at 19, Liberty would rattle off four unanswered to take the 23-19 lead late. Consecutive errors by the Highlanders would give LU the 25-20 set one victory.
Two errors and a Melissa Racz kill would put Liberty up 3-1 to start the second set. A service ace by Christine Beckham would bring Radford even, 5-5. The Highlanders would run off two, four point runs to take the 16-11 advantage. Behind kills from Ansley Gebben, Loren Thomas and Jade Craycraft, the Lady Eagles would storm back to take the 20-19 lead. With Liberty clinging to a two point advantage late in the set, an error by Wiechecki would give the Lady Flames the second set, 25-23.
An attack error on Lillie Happel would give Radford the 8-6 lead in the third set. Lillie Happel would then send in two kills to give Liberty the 15-14 advantage. With the game at knotted at 17, Liberty would score five unanswered to take the three point lead, 22-17. A kill by Thomas would give Liberty the set, 25-22, and the championship, 3-0.
Thomas was tops on the Lady Flames with 11 kills, while Happel had 10. Craycraft dished out 26, Kelly Haseman led LU with 19 digs. The Lady Flames had a .187 hitting percentage, 35 assists, and 10 total blocks.
Radford was led by Wiechecki's 10 kills and Beckham's 21 assists. Rachel Brummit dug up a team best 24, while Emma Deininger had six block assists. RU hit for .180, had 42 assists, 73 digs and six total team blocks.
With the win (their 3rd in five years), Liberty receives the Big South's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Volleyball Championship. The Lady Flames will find out who they will play on Nov. 27 during the ESPNU selection show at 6:00pm
Loren Thomas, Liberty University (MVP)
Kelly Haseman, Liberty University
Lillie Happel, Liberty University
Rachel Brummit, Radford University
Rachel Wiechecki, Radford University
Meredith Foster, UNC Asheville
Stephanie Palmer, Winthrop University