Liberty sweeps another volleyball match, beats Chancellor
Liberty improved to 2-0 this season with a sweep of Chancellor on Thursday in Fredericksburg. --Photo By Doug Stroud
The Liberty Eagles might have been able to win their volleyball match Thursday without recording a single kill.
Between Liberty's 12 aces and the Chancellor Chargers' frequent errors and violations, the Eagles had few opportunities to take swings offensively, but still won 25-16, 25-11, 25-17 on the road in Fredericksburg.
The fact that the Eagles won easily despite limited kills bodes well for them. They expect to be a good hitting team this season, when given the chance.
“I feel like we have a lot of strong hitters,” said junior setter Sarah Guerra, who had nine assists Thursday. “And once a hitter is on fire … it also fires up a lot of the other hitters just to keep it going.”
Junior middle hitter Emily Fitzwater leads Liberty (2-0) this season with 13 kills. She had five against Chancellor after providing eight in the Eagles’ season-opening sweep against Sherando.
“One hundred percent turnaround from last year,” Fitzwater said of her hitting. “I think I’m more comfortable. I’m not as nervous, so I don’t have that on my back the whole time.”
Fitzwater, Guerra and senior libero Lizzie Berger are Liberty’s three returning starters. The Eagles’ other hitters include senior outside Sadie Rynestad (who returned to the team after skipping her junior season), junior outside Diane McDaniel, junior middle Brittanie King and junior right side Sam Untiedt.
“We have a lot of hitters that can play a lot of different positions,” Fitzwater said. “So we don’t have a lot of weak links.”
Guerra seems to fit that definition. Despite being Liberty’s setter, she finished Thursday as the Eagles’ leading hitter with seven kills.
“Which is incredible,” first-year Liberty coach Lauren Bosso said. “She is a fantastic all-around player … and a fantastic setter.”
Guerra also showed her serving skills Thursday. She finished with seven aces, including six in the second game with a run of three-consecutive. However, she finished with a 67 serving percentage and, as a team, Liberty had only an 81.9 serving percentage.
“Obviously I want 100 [percent] but, at least, I’ve got to be in the 90s,” Bosso said. “A missed serve is a missed serve. You really can’t make up for it.”
“We just have to have less errors,” Fitzwater said.
The Eagles had far fewer errors than Chancellor. The Chargers had 12 service errors, 25 hitting/passing errors and eight violations. Those helped Liberty recover from a 3-0 deficit in the first game and build a lead as large as 22-11.
In the second game, the Eagles took leads of 11-4 and 22-10, and in the third game, they pulled away from a 7-all tie to take a 23-12 lead.
“We’re definitely flowing together as a team,” Guerra said of Liberty’s two of three-game victories this season.
Last season, Liberty struggled to a 7-11 record and finished fourth in Evergreen District after going 20-6 in 2011. The Eagles lost some key players to graduation following last season, but they seem confident in a 2013 roster that features eight juniors and five seniors.
“We all work so much better together,” Fitzwater said, comparing this team to the 2012 squad. “There’s actually no drama. We’re all closer ages – we’re all juniors and seniors – so that makes it a lot easier.”
Nonetheless, Kettle Run and Fauquier have dominated the district since its inception. Liberty has yet to win an Evergreen title.
“I definitely expect a lot out of them … especially after what I’ve seen the past two games,” Bosso said. “I think they’re going to prove themselves.
“If the switch is on, I think we’re going to go all the way,” she said. “It’s a great group of girls. The team chemistry is there.”
The Chargers had limited opportunities offensively due to their errors, so Tiffany Washington finished with three of their 14 kills, while Kayla Medina, Riley Pates, Brittany Margelos and Shawna Morris had two each. Even so, Liberty’s front line didn’t get many touches on Chancellor’s swings, which could become a concern versus future opponents.
“Against big hitters we’re [still] working on it,” Fitzwater said of the Eagles’ block. “If we can pick that up, it would be a whole different game.”
Following last season, Liberty lost to graduation all-district second team middle hitter Erin Morant, and her 10-foot vertical reach.
“She was a great middle, but I feel like we have a really strong back row that it doesn’t matter if we don’t have her,” Guerra said. “Emily’s just as good as a hitter. I feel like Emily is going to have that big [hitter] title.”
Bosso also believes the Eagles can compensate for their lack of height.
“We actually do a ton of weight training, even in season,” she said. “To improve the girls’ vertical, we do a jumping program. If you have that potential to jump and you train for it, you can” block.
Against Chancellor, King had Liberty’s two blocks and she added four kills and two aces.
“She’s a big powerhouse that can rarely be stopped when she’s on,” Bosso said.
Fitzwater had two aces, while junior setter Hailey Rogers had four assists and a kill, and McDaniel had two kills, an ace and a dig.
Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
Get Headlines Every Tuesday and Thursday By Email