Friday, April 25, 2014

Volleyball looks for third straight title

The Lady Flames start their season Aug. 30 at the Northern Illinois Invitational against No. 23 Ohio State

The Lady Flames volleyball team is looking to bring home a Big South Championship title for the third season in a row.

Winning mentality— The Lady Flames hope to continue to dominate the Big South Conference. Photo credit: Ruth Bibby

The two-time defending Big South champions have been picked to finish first in this year’s Big South preseason poll.

“Really preseason is just voting, but it is really nice to be thought of that way,” Head Coach Shane Pinder said.

The Lady Flames have been practicing since Aug. 8, preparing for tough competition in nonconference play.

“We have a tough nonconference schedule, and (we) need great leadership to keep it together early on and help us head in the right direction,”
Pinder said.

With players such as senior setter, Jade Craycraft and outside hitter and preseason player of the year Caroline Douglas, the Lady Flames have a strong core of veteran players.

Along with Craycraft and Douglas, senior Lillie Happel and Kendle Rollins will be returning for the Flames. Defensive specialist Becca Haraf will also be returning for her senior year.

“We have the opportunity to go for a ‘three-peat’ this year, which has never been done in school history,” Craycraft said. “We’ve won back-to-back championships, so obviously we kind of have a target on our back, but basically we need to handle the pressure well, maintain and sustain success for as long as we can.”

Pinder explained that his Lady Flames have self-imposed standards that are higher than any others placed on them.

“In terms of expectations, they are always pursuing excellence,” Pinder said. “They always want to be the best and they commit to that, so I don’t know if anyone can put any more pressure (on us) than what we put on
ourselves every day.”

The Lady Flames will open their season against No. 23 Ohio State at the Northern Illinois
University Invitational in DeKalb, Ill., Aug. 30.

“The Vines Center is a big place, and I’ve never seen it filled up for a volleyball game” Craycraft said. “We have some very loyal people that always show up, but it’s so important for … the momentum of the game to have your school behind you.”

Liberty will play Georgetown Sept. 3 for its home season opener at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center.

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