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In a tight knit contest in which there were only three lead changes and a comeback by the Highlanders to force a 5th set, the Radford University women’s volleyball team was unable to respond against the Liberty University Flames as the Highs lost their conference opener on Sept. 23, 2-3. The scores from the five sets were 25-19, 16-25, 17-25, 25-19 and 11-15.
Looking to avoid a conference play loss to the Flames, the Highs controlled the first set by leading 11-5 after the game’s first timeout. Despite a rally by the Lady Flames when they found themselves trailing, the Highs ended the first set on a 7-2 run that gave them the lead.
Similar to their opponent, Liberty led from start to finish in the second set, leading by as many as 10 before they closed out the set, 25-16. Going into game three, the Highs gained ground temporarily by claiming a 5-1 lead before the Flames rallied. Liberty turned the set into a one point contest when they rallied, making the score 11-10 in the third set. However Liberty’s size at the net played a key difference as they held the Highs to a negative percentage while totaling six and a half blocks. Liberty eventually took the third set after a furious comeback, 25-17.
Trailing 2-1 three sets into the game, RU refused to fall. The Highs went into the fourth game fired up, and jumped out to a 12-6 start after tying the game at eight apiece to claim a 25-19 victory in the set.
With the game tied at two sets apiece, the match went into a 5th and final tiebreaker set. With the contest tied at 10 in the final set, the Lady Flames took control by going on a 4-0 run before winning the game off a Radford error, 15-11. The loss dropped the Highlanders to a 4-9 mark on the season, while the Flames improved to 6-9.
“I think that tonight we showed that we have a chance in the conference and that we played our best in a while even with our ups and downs,” said sophomore outside hitter Emily Carlin. Carlin had 10 digs in the contest, as well as a team leading .204 attack percentage. As a whole, the Highs had a .074 percentage on the night.
“Our biggest thing [we have to do] is to play smart,” said freshman middle blocker Savannah Cantrell. Cantrell recorded nine kills on the night.
Even with the loss, the Highs had three players reach double figures in digs, led by freshman libero Rachel Brummitt’s 30 digs. Carlin recorded her first double double of the season with a career high 19 kills and 10 digs. Freshman outside hitter Rachel Wiechecki added 17 digs while freshman middle blocker Emma Deininger added six block assists.
The Highs return to the floor on Sept. 27 with a 7 p.m. road contest at North Carolina Central University.