The Dolphins (0-4) raced out to a 2-0 lead before the Flames (4-1) took the next three sets to deny JU’s first win of the season.
“We couldn’t close it out,” JU head coach Michelle Collier said. “We got out to the early lead, but didn’t play very consistently in the final three sets. Our team needs a better effort tonight against UCF.”
Ansley Gebben led the Flames with 17 kills and 10 digs, while Loren Thomas added 14 kills in the win and Caroline Douglas had 11 kills.
Freshman Sammie Strausbaugh recorded her second double-double of the season with 16 kills and 11 digs to pace the JU offense. Senior Alison Loeppky (11) and freshman Emily Laskelle (10) each had double-digit kills, while junior Kendall Courtney registered 50 assists for the second time in the last three matches.
The Dolphins trimmed an early deficit in the first set to 11-8 on a Loeppky kill. Liberty built a 15-12 lead on consecutive errors. After a time out, the Dolphin scored seven of the next 11 points, capped on a block by Loeppky and Strausbaugh, to tie the set at 19. A kill by Courtney gave the Dolphins a 23-21 lead, but the Flames tied it at 23-all on an attack error. JU called another timeout before Laskelle tallied back-to-back kills to secure the set.
In the second set, Laskelle continued her hot pace to give the Dolphins a 7-1 advantage. The Dolphins push the lead to 14-9 on a Strausbaugh kill. A bad set helped Liberty cut the gap to 17-12, but JU closed out with an 8-3 run to take a 2-0 lead.
The Flames hit better than .500 pct (16-1-29) in the third stanza and used a late 8-4 run to win the set to stay alive.
A ball handling error by JU gave the Flames a 15-10 lead in the fourth set. After cutting the deficit to three, the Dolphins committed two attack errors as Liberty extended its advantage to 21-16. A kill from junior Alyssa Robertson and two attack errors helped JU get to 24-21, but Gebben recorded a kill to force a fifth set.
In the final set, Liberty took advantage on an ace and three JU attack errors to build a 7-4 lead. They outscored the Dolphins, 8-4, the rest of the way to win the match. JU was held to a .125 hitting percentage (7-5-16) in the set, while Liberty hit .600 (7-1-10).
The Dolphins play again tonight against host UCF at 8 p.m. Fans can follow the live stats on JUDolphins.com.