Playing in front of a home crowd, the Falcons (3-5) had spurts of momentum throughout the match, including a rally in the first game that netted the team four straight points, but were largely overpowered by the Lions (13-6; 6-2 BVAL) for most of the match.
"We have been working on being consistent, and I saw it tonight," said Liberty coach Linda Ghilarducci. "You know last time we played them (Freedom), we seemed to not play as consistent, so tonight I told them I was looking for consistency. I saw that tonight. I thought they played really well."
Liberty jumped out to big leads in all three of the games, including 16-8 in game two and 11-0 in game three, behind big games from Corinne Costa (16 kills, 12 blocks and three digs) and Diana Morales (11 service points and 2 aces) to prevent Freedom from feeling comfortable on their home court.
Freedom made a run in game one, pulling to within six points at 14-8. Kelly Cook, who finished the game with five blocks and three kills, led the charge and helped Freedom rally off four straight points, but the Falcons were outscored 11-3 the rest of the game en route to a 25-11 loss.
"Liberty has always been our toughest game," said Freedom head coach Erin Smedley. "We don't play them even as good as we play against teams like Deer Valley."
Freedom's only lead of the game came on their first possession to take a 1-0 lead. The Falcons briefly showed life in game two, when Sarah Knight dove on all fours to help keep a rally going that helped the Falcons shave the score to 17-9 on a Cook block. But the Lions' relentless attack closed the door on a Falcon comeback.
"We were confident that we were going to do OK," said Cook. "But we knew we weren't going to do awesome." The win keeps Liberty in third place behind Deer Valley and Carondelet, who handed the Lions their last loss Oct. 2.
Despite the lopsided loss, the young Falcons, who will graduate only four of 12 players at the end of the year, look at the first half of their season as a stepping-stone to a more prosperous future.
Led by Cook, whose presence on the floor gives the Falcons a boost, and Rachel Aku, who dominates the back row, the Falcons have vastly improved their passing game and like their second-half schedule. "We have a chance against some of the more mediocre teams," said Cook. "I don't know - maybe we'll get better."
The Falcons underachieved during the early part of their season, according to Smedley, losing close matches to Pittsburg and Clayton Valley, both of whom have losing records.
"I think we lost a couple of games in the first half of the season against teams that we should have beat," said Smedley. "We came back and beat Pittsburg in the second round. I would like to see us come back and beat teams like Clayton Valley and Antioch, teams I feel we definitely have a nice shot against." Of Freedom's seven remaining league opponents, only Deer Valley and Carondelet have winning records.
"This game aside, I think we are playing better than we played in the beginning of the year," said Smedley. "Overall, they are doing a lot better."
Both teams return to the court Tuesday, Oct. 23. Liberty hosts second-place Deer Valley (18-3, 7-1) at 6 p.m., while Freedom travels to Ygnacio Valley (1-11, 1-9) for a 7 p.m. match-up.