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Lady Flames to Compete in Kentucky Classic
Following a home schedule-opening 3-1 win over Georgetown on Tuesday, the Liberty volleyball team returns to the road for its next 10 matches. The Lady Flames next compete in the Kentucky Classic, Friday and Saturday. While in Lexington, Liberty will face Commonwealth rival VCU along with a pair of 2012 NCAA Tournament participants, East Tennessee State and the 21st-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for all of this weekend's matches, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats will be offered courtesy of the Kentucky Athletics Media Relations Office. Liberty's contest against Kentucky on Saturday will be video streamed, for a small fee, through UKTube online.
Lady Flames Down Georgetown, 3-1, in Home Opener
Liberty picked up its first win of the season in its home opener on Tuesday night, downing Georgetown, 3-1, in front of 922 fans at the Vines Center. In the process, the Lady Flames picked up their 15th straight home victory. Tuesday night's victory marked the 700th win in program history, and also was the 175th win in the career of Head Coach Shane Pinder.
The Lady Flames placed four players in double-figures in kills, while amassing a season-high 13.5 blocks to slow down the Hoyas' attack. Lillie Happel posted her 27th career double-double, with 17 kills and 10 digs, and Happel is now 14 kills away from 1,000 for her career. Jade Craycraft sent down 10 kills to go with 42 assists and five blocks, giving her 25 career double-doubles.
Kendle Rollins totaled 11 kills and seven blocks, and is now in sole possession of sixth all-time at Liberty with 325 career blocks. Gabrielle Shipe collected a season-high 23 digs, while Susan Babcock chipped in a season-best 11 kills. Nzea McQuitery tied for the match high with six block assists.
On the Way to 1,000
Senior outside hitter Lillie Happel, a two-time all-conference selection, has recorded 986 career kills. She is currently 14 kills away from becoming the 14th player in program history with 1,000 or more career kills.
Current Liberty assistant coaches Jennifer (Belk) Vaden (2001-04) and Rebecca Rudnick (2001-04) are both members of the 1,000-kill club. Vaden is third on Liberty's all-time list, with 1,789 career kills, while Rudnick (1,164) is 10th. Erin McKeown (2000-03), Senior Woman Administrator and color analyst for Liberty volleyball, is 8th with 1,308 kills.
The Lady Flames lead the Big South in blocking so far this season, averaging 2.88 blocks per set. Nzea McQuitery averages 1.33 blocks per set, followed by Jade Craycraft (1.23 bps) and Kendle Rollins (1.15 bps)
Rollins is now ranked sixth all-time at Liberty with 325 career blocks, and needs 17 more blocks to pass Erin McKeown (2000-03) into fifth place on the Lady Flames' all-time list.
Junior libero Gabrielle Shipe has increased her dig total in each match so far this season. She opened the campaign with 10 digs against No. 23 Ohio State, then followed with 17 at Northern Illinois and 20 versus Green Bay before collecting a season-high 23 digs on Tuesday against Georgetown.
Shipe's 23-dig effort on Tuesday marked her eighth career 20-dig match, and she has now collected 20 or more digs in back-to-back matches for the first time in her career.
Career Milestones in Reach
Lillie Happel - 1,000 kills (currently at 986 - would be 14th 1,000-kill player at Liberty)
- 900 digs (currently at 802)
Jade Craycraft - 3,500 assists (currently at 3,407 - ranks 7th in program history)
- 700 digs (currently at 695)
- 250 blocks (currently at 237)
Kendle Rollins - 600 kills (currently at 576)
- 350 blocks (currently at 325 – ranks 6th in program history)
Gabrielle Shipe - 900 digs (currently at 825)
Becca Haraf - 600 digs (currently at 557)
Caroline Douglas - 500 kills (currently at 454)
VCU (3-0) won the IUPUI Invitational, downing Florida Gulf Coast, IUPUI and Illinois State. Romana Kriskova, a 2012 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team selection, was named the MVP of the IUPUI Invitational, averaging 4.42 kills per set during the weekend. Junior setter Cecilia Aragao (9.08 assists per set, 3.0 digs per set, 1.67 blocks per set) and junior libero Amanda Love (3.0 digs per set) were also named to the All-Tournament team. The Rams average 3.54 blocks per set, holding opponents to a .149 hitting percentage. VCU went 25-6 last season, going 10-4 to place third in the Atlantic 10.
First-year head coach Jody Rogers is 3-0 at VCU, after posting a 406-180 record during 16 seasons at Division II Indianapolis. She led Indianapolis to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, including a berth in the 2012 Final Four.
VCU leads the volleyball series against Liberty, 14-13. The Rams have won each of the last seven meetings. Liberty's last win over VCU occurred Oct. 26, 2004 in the Vines Center, during Pinder's first season as Liberty's head coach. Current Liberty assistant coach Jennifer Vaden posted 22 kills and 11 digs for the Lady Flames that night.
East Tennessee State, the 2012 Atlantic Sun tournament champion, evened its season record at 2-2 with a 3-0 sweep of Furman on Tuesday. 2012 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year Megan Devine paces ETSU with 4.33 kills per set and has registered double-doubles in each match this season. Jamie Rutledge dishes out 9.75 assists per set, while Meredith Hardy averages 1.53 blocks per contest. Katie Muey averages 4.47 digs per set, and is tied for the team lead with seven aces.
Lindsey Devine, in her 11th season as head coach, holds a 166-156 lifetime record. She has guided the Buccaneers to three 20-win seasons, including 23 wins in 2012.
ETSU holds a 4-2 all-time record against the Lady Flames, although Liberty has won the last two meetings. The Lady Flames swept the Buccaneers in both 2007 and 2009, including on Sept. 4, 2009 in Lynchburg. During that match, Liberty outhit ETSU, .349 to .069.
No. 21 Kentucky went 1-2 at a tournament hosted by Long Beach State, capped by a 3-0 sweep of the host Long Beach State 49ers. Senior outside hitter Whitney Billings and Morgan Bergren were both named to the all-tournament team. Billings, a two-time All-American, averages 4.45 kills and 3.0 digs per set, both team highs. Bergren paces the team with 10.9 assists per set. The Wildcats lost a pair of All-Americans to graduation in setter Christine Hartmann and libero Stephanie Klefot. Sophomore middle blocker Sara Schwarzwalder, a 2012 All-SEC Freshman team member, averages a team-best 1.27 blocks per set.
Craig Skinner is 181-78 and in his ninth season at Kentucky. The 2005 SEC Coach of the Year and 2011 AVCA All-South Region Coach of the Year, Skinner has led the Wildcats to back-to-back NCAA Sweet 16 appearances, and three out of the last four.
Liberty and Kentucky will be meeting for the first time. The Lady Flames are 2-7 all-time against SEC opponents, with wins over Alabama (2001) and Mississippi (1998). Liberty opened the 2011 season with a 3-0 setback at Georgia, a match in which Melissa Racz recorded six blocks and Gabrielle Shipe had eight digs, both in their Liberty debuts.