Big South Volleyball Undefeated Tuesday



The Liberty volleyball team won a tight, 26-24, first set and led throughout the final two sets in sweeping James Madison (26-24, 25-21, 25-23), Tuesday at the Vines Center.

With the win, Liberty's third in a row overall and eighth straight home victory, the Lady Flames advance to 11-4 on the season.  James Madison is now 8-7 during the campaign, having gone 7-2 in its last nine contests.  Prior to Tuesday, the Dukes had won 14 straight matches against Commonwealth opponents.

Liberty hit .276 for the match, compared to .209 for the Dukes, as the Lady Flames never trailed during the match.  The Lady Flames held a 7-1 advantage in blocks and edged James Madison, 68-65 in digs.

Liberty's Caroline Douglas finished in a tie for the match high, with 17 kills.  She was followed by Ansley Gebben and Loren Thomas with nine kills apiece.  Gebben added a career-high 23 digs, the most digs by a Lady Flame since Kelly Haseman had 24 digs, Nov. 17, 2011 versus Gardner-Webb.

Jade Craycraft recorded her 17th career double-double, with 34 assists and 10 digs.  Gabrielle Shipe collected 16 digs, while Kendle Rollins tallied a match-high six blocks.

Danielle Erb led the Dukes with a season-high 17 kills and 16 digs.  Megan Wiechmann totaled a match-high 38 assists for James Madison.

Both teams came out firing in set one, with Liberty hitting .413 with 20 kills, and James Madison attacking at a .347 clip during the opening session.  The Lady Flames staged a 14-9 rally to take a 24-19 lead, getting five kills from Douglas during that stretch.  Meghan Niski sent down two kills as part of a five-point JMU surge, tying the set at 24-24.  Gebben then tallied back-to-back kills to clinch set one, 26-24.

Douglas recorded 10 kills on 16 swings during the first set, while teammate Gebben, along with JMU's Erb and Natalie Abel, had five kills apiece.

Liberty posted three blocks during the second set, slowing down the Dukes' offense to the tune of a .167 attack percentage.  The Dukes surged late, drawing to within three points at 23-20.  Douglas then notched a kill for set point, and a Monica Johnson kill sealed set two, 25-21.

The Lady Flames continued to excel on the attack in set two, hitting .375 with three Liberty players connecting for four kills apiece.  Erb added seven kills for the Dukes during the middle frame.

During set three, Liberty built a 17-10 lead, benefitting from six JMU attack errors to that point.  MacKenzie Kleespies registered four kills during a 12-6 JMU rally, as the Dukes battled back to within one, 22-21.  Craycraft then scored a kill on the ensuing rally, and Douglas registered Liberty's final two kills as the Lady Flames won set three and the match, 25-23.

James Madison held a .129-.082 edge in set three hitting percentage.  Gebben totaled 10 digs in the third set alone, boosting her total to a match-high 23.

The Lady Flames return to Big South competition this weekend, heading to Boiling Springs, N.C. to take on Gardner-Webb on Friday at 7 p.m. before facing UNC Asheville on Saturday at 2 p.m.

GARDNER-WEBB DEFEATS USC UPSTATE, 25-23, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16 | BOX SCORE  

The Gardner-Webb volleyball team got a career-high 23 digs from freshman libero Anna Pashkova and a match-high 17 kills from junior middle blocker Tyler Cockrell to defeat the USC Upstate Spartans 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16) on Tuesday night in Paul Porter Arena.

The win pushes GWU to 6-12 overall, while the loss drops Upstate to 4-9 on the year.

Behind Cockrell's 17 kills and a .536 attack percentage, junior Emily Holte contributed with 10 kills, on a .409 attack percentage, while senior Carolina Solano and junior Erin Anderson added eight and seven kills, respectively.  Sophomore setter Heather Feldman dished out 41 assists, registered six kills and tallied 11 digs, while also posting two service aces on the night.

For Upstate, Kayla Eversgerd led the way with a team-high 13 kills, 15 digs and three aces, while setter Emily Sanders had 24 assists to lead the Spartans.

The Runnin' Bulldogs fell behind early in the first, 4-1, as Upstate recorded a service ace by Eversgerd.  However, the home team answered with a 9-5 run, capped off by back-to-back kills from Solano and Holte, to take a 10-9 lead.

After a Solano service ace pushed the GWU lead to two at 11-9, the two teams went back and forth over the next several possessions with GWU hanging on to a slight lead at 20-17.  However, three straight points by the Spartans, highlighted by kills from Kayla McAvoy and Shannon Weiss, knotted the set up once more at 20-20.

Back-to-back kills from Cockrell and Solano got the Runnin' Bulldogs back in front at 22-20, as GWU did not look back en route of the 25-23 first set win.

The second set would see two ties and one lead change early, before the Runnin' Bulldogs used a 9-4 run over the Spartans, to take an 11-6 lead on a service ace by Cockrell.

The Spartans would cut the lead to two at 13-11 on a kill by Weiss, yet Gardner-Webb refused to relinquish the lead, using a 4-0 run to pull away once more on its way to a 25-17 second set victory.

The third set belonged to the Spartans, as Upstate jumped out to a 7-1 lead on back-to-back aces by Eversgerd.

GWU made a short rally to cut the Upstate lead to three at 10-7, however, three straight errors by the Runnin' Bulldogs fueled the Spartans' lead, pushing Upstate out to a 14-7 advantage.

The lead was too much for GWU to overcome in the third set, as Upstate held on for the 25-17 set win to force a fourth set.

After such a slow start in the third set, Gardner-Webb and head coach Leo Sayles were determined to start the fourth frame on track, as the home team ran out to a 12-3 lead on two straight kills from Anderson and Cockrell.

GWU refused to quit and looked to put the match away, as errors by the Spartans, coupled with a kill and an ace from Solano, pushed the Runnin' Bulldogs' lead out to eight at 17-9.

Upstate would get to as close as six points in the set, however, GWU finished the game out with a kill from Feldman and two kills from Cockrell to earn the 25-16 set win and a 3-1 match victory.

For the match, the Runnin' Bulldogs hit .271 as a team, while also recording six service aces and six total blocks overall.

Gardner-Webb, who has won three straight at home in Paul Porter Arena, will look to continue its current two-match winning streak this weekend, as the Runnin' Bulldogs will host Liberty at 7 p.m. on Friday night and Radford at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

The volleyball team is hosting a "Red Wave" on Friday night and encourages all fans to wear red to the match, while on Saturday afternoon, GWU is looking to "Black Out" Paul Porter Arena and are asking fans to wear black in support of their Runnin' Bulldogs.

RADFORD DEFEATS N.C. CENTRAL, 20-25, 25-6, 25-10, 25-20 | BOX SCORE

Junior Jesse Miedema knocked down a career-high 14 kills, while hitting over 66 percent, to lead the Radford volleyball team to a 3-1 (20-25, 25-6, 25-10, 25-20) win over N.C. Central on Tuesday night inside the Dedmon Center.  The Highlanders improve to 9-8 on the season, while the Eagles fall to 2-16.

In addition to her kills mark, Miedema contributed five block assists in the outing.  Cheyanne James totaled 11 kills and eight digs, while Yacine Meyer just missed a double-double with nine kills and a match-high 13 digs.

Christine Beckham dished out a match-high 27 assists and Jena Braden tossed up 12.  Emma Deininger was a wall at the net, recording a season-high-tying six block assists.

Christine Anthony led N.C. Central with 12 kills, while Melissa Rabell assisted on 12 attacks. Marilyn Sherbondy was credited with a team-high eight digs.

The first set featured Radford establishing an early 13-10 advantage before NCCU went on a 4-0 run to take its first lead at 14-13.  RU tied the set at 20 via a Rachel Fertitta kill, but the Eagles produced a 5-0 spurt to snatch the 1-0 lead in the match.

The Highlanders came out in the second set with a vengeance, taking a 7-2 lead early on to force a N.C. Central timeout.  Out of the break, the visitors could not dig themselves out of the hole as RU cruised to the 25-6 victory in the second set.  Radford hit a season-high 62.5 percent in the frame, connecting on 12-of-16 attack attempts.

Following intermission, the Highlanders once again created an early lead.  Leading 9-2, Radford expanded its lead to 10 (15-5) before the Eagles called a timeout.  The hosts outscored NCCU, 10-5, the rest of the stanza to take a 2-1 edge in the match.

Determined to not go down easily, the Eagles generated a 10-2 advantage to open the fourth frame.  From there, RU embarked on a 15-5 run to reclaim the lead at 17-15. N.C. Central cut its deficit to two (21-19), but the Highlanders stalled the comeback thanks to a 4-1 run to end the set and capture the match.

Radford jumps back into Big South play this weekend, traveling to UNC Asheville and Gardner-Webb.  The matchup with the Bulldogs is set for 7:00 p.m. on Friday, before squaring off against the Runnin' Bulldogs on Saturday at 2:00 p.m.