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Liberty to Compete at JMU, Tuesday
Complete Match Notes
The Liberty volleyball team begins a busy week, taking on Commonwealth rival James Madison on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va. The Lady Flames play a total of five matches this week, including four contests at the Liberty Invitational, Friday and Saturday.
Liberty and JMU enter with identical 2-1 records after the opening weekend of play. James Madison holds a 20-11 record since 1980 over Liberty, while the Lady Flames won the most recent meeting, 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-23), on Sept. 25, 2012 at the Vines Center.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for Tuesday's match. Fans can view live stats which will be provided courtesy of James Madison. Live video will be available, free of charge, through James Madison's MadiZone page.
1. The Lady Flames went 2-1 at the Elon Phoenix Classic this past weekend to open the 2014 season. Liberty swept San Jose State, 3-0, on Friday, winning its season opener for the first time since 2009. The team then fell to Maryland of the Big 10, 3-2 on Saturday, before sweeping host Elon, 3-0, to wrap up the tournament.
2. Freshman Hannah Weidner and junior Jade Vorster both made strong debuts for the Lady Flames, being named to the Elon Phoenix Classic All-Tournament team. Weidner averaged 3.27 kills, hitting .321, while Vorster hit .413 and averaged 1.00 blocks per set.
3. Junior Caila Stapleton, taking over for four-time all-conference setter Jade Craycraft, averaged 10.64 assists and 0.45 aces per set. She dished out a career-high 54 assists against Maryland, the first 50+-assist match by a Lady Flame since 2012.
4. Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas, the 2012 Big South Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, had a season-high 19 kills to lead four players in double-figures against Maryland. She is tied for the team lead with 3.27 kills per set.
5. Sophomore Nzea McQuitery leads the team with a .449 attack percentage, scoring a career-high 15 kills against Maryland. Junior Gabrielle Shipe passed former Lady Flame Jessica Nelson (2004-08) into 14th place all-time at Liberty, with 1,206 career digs.
6. The Lady Flames will play 10 matches in the next 12 days, with mid-week matches against James Madison (Sept. 2) and Georgetown (Sept. 9) and four-match stays at the Liberty Invitational (Sept. 5-6) and Brown Invitational (Sept. 12-13).
Freshman Hannah Weidner made an immediate impact during her first weekend of collegiate volleyball, averaging 3.27 kills per set while hitting .321 over the three-match span.
She led the Lady Flames with 13 kills during the season opener against San Jose State, and added 13 and 10 kills, respectively, against Maryland and Elon.
Weidner is the first Lady Flame since Karyl Bacon in 2007 to open her career with three straight 10-kill matches. No Liberty player in rally-scoring history (since 2001) has begun her career with four or more 10-kill matches.
Spread the Wealth
So far this season, the Lady Flames have four hitters averaging 2.0 or more kills per set in redshirt junior Caroline Douglas and freshman Hannah Weidner (3.27 kps each), sophomore Nzea McQuitery (2.64) and junior Jade Vorster (2.09).
On Saturday against Maryland, Douglas led with 19 kills, followed by McQuitery (15), Weidner (13) and Vorster (11). It marked the first time that Liberty had four players record 10+ kills in the same match since Nov. 1, 2013 against Radford, when Douglas had 14 kills, followed by Melissa Racz (12), Lillie Happel (10) and Jade Craycraft (10).
Dishing it Out
Junior setter Caila Stapleton has helped the Lady Flames get off to a fast start offensively, as Liberty hit .279 as a team over the weekend. Stapleton averaged 10.64 assists per set and leads the team with five aces.
Against Maryland, she set or tied career highs in assists (54), digs (7) and aces (2). Her 54 assists were the most by a Lady Flame since Jade Craycraft had 56 helpers at Charleston Southern on Oct. 12, 2012.
Both of Liberty's middle blockers, sophomore Nzea McQuitery and junior Jade Vorster, have hit for high percentage last weekend.
McQuitery, a 2013 Big South All-Freshman Team member, leads the team with a .449 hitting percentage. She opened the season hitting .800 (9-1-10) against San Jose State, and then hit .480 with a career-high 15 kills versus Maryland.
Vorster, a two-time All-Big West selection while playing at Hawai'i, hit .413 over the span of her first three matches as a Lady Flame. She sent down a season-high 11 kills on just 17 attempts, with no errors (.647) against Maryland on Saturday.
Senior libero Gabrielle Shipe leads the Lady Flames with a 3.64 digs per set average and collected a season-high 19 digs versus Maryland.
Shipe passed Jessica Nelson (2004-08) into 14th place all-time at Liberty with 1,206 career digs. She needs 18 more digs to pass Nicole Nice (1989-92, 1224 digs) and 35 more to enter 11th place, passing Nice, Kyrie Dorn (1996-99, 1,235) and Kallie Corbin (2006-09, 1,241).
Junior Allie Reynolds collected a team-high 12 digs during the season opener against San Jose State, good for her 11th career double-digit dig match. Classmate Haley Jeffcoat then totaled a career-high 11 digs versus Maryland.
Own the Net
In 2013, the Lady Flames led the Big South with 2.38 blocks per set, marking the third time in the last four years Liberty has been the conference leader in blocking.
This year, the team is averaging 1.59 blocks per set. Liberty recorded a season-high nine team blocks on Saturday against Maryland.
Junior Jade Vorster paces the Lady Flames with 1.0 blocks per set, and she posted five total blocks versus Maryland.
Liberty vs. James Madison
James Madison went 2-1 at its home invitational this past weekend, downing Norfolk State and Charleston Southern, while falling to Villanova. The Dukes have outhit opponents, .289 to .138, so far this season, averaging 3.0 blocks per set. A 2013 All-CAA first team member, senior Lizzy Briones leads the way with 2.30 blocks per set, while 2013 second team all-conference selection Janey Goodman hits .412 with 4.40 kills per set. Junior MacKenzie Kleespies averages 4.30 digs per set. Kleespies and Goodman were both named to the JMU Classic All-Tournament Team.
The Dukes were predicted to finish second in the CAA Preseason Coaches' Poll, while Briones and Goodman were voted to the Preseason All-Conference team.
James Madison holds a 20-11 advantage in the all-time series against Liberty. Liberty has won three out of the last four meetings with the Dukes, including a 3-0 sweep on Sept. 25, 2012 at the Vines Center. The Dukes won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, 2-0, in 1980. JMU's most recent win over Liberty came on Sept. 20, 2011 in the Sinclair Gymnasium, a 3-1 victory.
The Lady Flames have gone 3-5 against James Madison under 11th-year head coach Shane Pinder. Pinder is 2-1 all-time when coaching against current JMU head coach, Lauren Steinbrecher, who has led the Dukes since 2010.
The Lady Flames swept James Madison, 3-0, on Sept. 25, 2012 at the Vines Center. It marked Liberty's eighth straight home win, extending a home winning streak that would reach 15 matches before being halted on Oct. 4, 2013.
Caroline Douglas and JMU's Danielle Erb tied for the match high, with 17 kills apiece, while Erb added 16 digs for a double-double. Liberty's Jade Craycraft also registered a double-double with 34 assists and 10 digs, while Kendle Rollins had six blocks.