LYNCHBURG, Va. - Charleston Southern fell to late Liberty rallies in both the first and second sets as the Buccaneers were unable to overcome the host Flames on the road on Friday evening inside the Vines Center in suffering the 26-24, 25-22, 25-13 defeat.
Katrina Houston had 11 kills to lead the Buccaneers offense on the evening, while CSU combined for nine total team blocks in the match, but it was not enough to top the Flames as Charleston Southern was unable to pick up the Big South Conference win.
The Buccaneers fall to 5-16, 0-6 in Big South play this season, while Liberty improves to 4-15, 3-3 in conference action on the year.
Houston's 11 kills paved the way for the Buccaneers, while Erin LaVenice added eight kills of her own as Charleston Southern hit .120 from the floor as a team in the contest. Cassidy Greer set up the CSU attack with 22 set assists, while Siraya Windsor and Houston had two service aces apiece in the match.
Defensively, Windsor led the Buccaneers backline with 10 digs on the evening with Houston narrowly missing out on the double-double with eight digs of her own. Meredith Parrott led the CSU effort at the net with seven total blocks, while Windsor added five in the losing effort.
Nzea McQuitery and Lillie Happel led the Flames with 12 kills apiece from the court on the evening as the Flames overcame a slow start to the match in hitting .261 from the floor as a team. Jade Craycraft added 39 set assists, while Happel completed the double-double with 11 digs and two service aces. Gabrielle Shipe led the team with 18 digs, while McQuitery was the team leader with three blocks at the net.
The Buccaneers and Flames battled through a contentious first set, featuring 10 ties and eight lead changes as CSU rallied back from an early 7-3 deficit following a Craycraft service ace with a 6-1 run capped by a block by Parrott and Windsor to put CSU ahead for the first time on the evening at 9-8. The Flames answered with a kill from Monica Johnson to knot the frame up as both sides struggled to build more than a two point advantage the remainder of the set.
With Charleston Southern holding the 19-17 lead following a kill by Houston, the Bucs and Flames continued to trade points as CSU closed in on the first set win, going up 23-21 on a block by Parrott and Windsor. A kill by Liberty's Kendle Rollins was answered on the following serve by a Windsor kill as the Buccaneers pulled within set point at 24-22. However, the Flames used a 4-0 run to close out the first set on Becca Haraf's serve as Haley Jeffcoast placed in a pair of kills during the stretch in recording the 26-24 opening victory.
CSU bounced back from their first set loss, using a 9-3 run following a Melissa Racz kill that evened the set up at 5-5 as the Bucs used back-to-back kills by Houston in building their largest lead of the evening at 14-8. The Buccaneers advantage held up at 17-16 following a Liberty attack error as the Flames mounted a rally that would retake the lead in the set.
Liberty went on a 14-4 run starting at the 14-8 CSU lead, tying the set up at 17-17 before taking the 18-17 lead on a Happel kill. The Flames streak continued as Liberty went up 22-18 before closing out the 25-22 set victory in taking the 2-0 lead into the halftime break.
Charleston Southern scored the first two points of the third set as Klinger and Parrott combined for a block, while Houston rifled in a kill to give the Bucs the early advantage in the final frame. Liberty responded with an 8-1 run on Allie Reynolds' and Shipe's service to take control of the set as Liberty eventually went up by double-digits at 21-10 following a Rollins' kill on their way to seal the match win, ending the evening with a 25-13 victory.
The Buccaneers remain on the road, traveling to Radford, Va., to take on the Highlanders tomorrow afternoon inside the Dedmon Center Arena. First serve between CSU and Radford in Big South play is set for 2 p.m.