Stefanie Dolson has Liberty on verge of playoff upset against former Sky teammates
In Game 1 of the best-of-three first-round series, Dolson hurt the Sky the way she used to help them win. She finished with 13 points and went 3-for-4 from behind the arc.
Six years in Chicago were more than enough for Liberty center Stefanie Dolson to call it home.
She arrived in a trade that sent Elena Delle Donne to the Mystics for Dolson and 2021 WNBA Finals MVP Kahleah Copper and stayed just long enough to help the Sky secure their first championship.
When it came time to run it back, however, Dolson was on the outside.
‘‘It’s a complicated question,’’ Dolson said when asked how she approached her exit from the Sky. ‘‘I didn’t want to leave completely; it was my home. At the same time, there were decisions I had to make for my personal growth.’’
Dolson signed with a young Liberty team to play for first-year coach Sandy Brondello. It was a big story in free agency until the Sky signed 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman.
Landing Meesseman largely was looked at as an upgrade to the Sky’s frontcourt because of her ability to stretch the floor, help push the pace and get into passing lanes on defense.
‘‘She’s good at things that I’m possibly not good at, and I’m good at things that she’s not,’’ Dolson said. ‘‘They made a choice, and I made my own choice. We’re both better off for it.’’
While the Sky began piecing together another title-contending season, Dolson and the Liberty struggled, enduring a seven-game losing streak after winning their season opener.
But the Liberty, who were without forward Betnijah Laney for most of the regular season, were able to stay in the playoff picture, then won three of their last five games to qualify for the postseason.
Dolson now finds herself in the familiar situation of playing for a team on the verge of a playoff upset. She did it for the No. 6 seed Sky last season.
In Game 1 of the best-of-three first-round series, Dolson hurt the Sky the way she used to help them win. She scored 13 points and went 3-for-4 from behind the arc. One of those threes came in the face of Sky star Candace Parker.
As it fell through the net, Dolson looked to her Liberty teammates and gave a quirky smirk. Her character was something she became known for with the Sky. Now it’s something they remember.
‘‘I’ve been saying to everyone how bizarre it is being back here under these circumstances,’’ Dolson said before the Liberty’s victory in Game 1. ‘‘But I’m not sure I’d want to play anyone but my old teammates.’’