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Lady Flames to Open Big South Tournament Against No. 6 Seed High Point, Thursday
Complete Tournament Notes
No. 3 seed Liberty (23-9, 10-4 Big South) opens the 2014 Big South Volleyball Championship on Thursday at 5 p.m. against sixth-seeded High Point (12-15, 6-8), at Coastal Carolina's The HTC Center in Conway, S.C. Liberty and High Point split two meetings this season, with each team winning at home.
The winner of Thursday's match will advance to a semifinal tilt on Friday at 7 p.m., against the winner of the match between No. 2 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 7 seed Gardner-Webb. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the winning team advancing to the 2014 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
Lady Flames at a Glance
Liberty was the second team in NCAA Division I to earn 20 victories this season, winning at Coastal Carolina on Oct. 18 to go 20-5. The Lady Flames opened conference play with their best start ever, 9-0, before going 1-4 in their final five regular-season matches. The team leads the Big South in kills per set (13.67) and assists per set (12.75).
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for all matches at the Big South Volleyball Championship. Fans can view all contests via live video streaming, free of charge, through the Big South Network. Sunday's championship match will be aired on ESPN3, with Evan Lepler calling play-by-play and Erin Hagen serving as color analyst.
Tournament Quick Points
The Lady Flames are 36-16 all-time in Big South tournament matches, holding the conference record for tournament victories (36), tournament titles (7) and finals appearances (12).
Liberty won conference tournament titles in 1997, ‘99, 2001, ‘07, ‘08, ‘11 and ‘12.
The Lady Flames have qualified for the conference semifinals for seven straight years, starting in 2007, making finals appearances each year from 2007-12.
Liberty will be making its second-ever conference tournament appearance in Conway, S.C., and first since qualifying for the 1992 final and falling to UNC Asheville, 3-2.
Liberty is the No. 3 seed for the fourth time, and first since 2006. The Lady Flames are 5-2 all-time as the third seed, including a tournament title in 2001.
Liberty Volleyball By the Numbers
1 11th-year head coach Shane Pinder became Liberty's all-time winningest volleyball coach, earning his 199th career victory on Oct. 3 at Gardner-Webb. At 208-148, Pinder is ranked fourth overall in coaching wins among Big South coaches all-time.
1a Liberty currently sits atop the Big South statistical charts in kills per set (13.67) and assists per set (12.75). Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas leads the Big South with 4.23 kills per set, while junior Caila Stapleton paces the conference with 10.71 assists per set.
2 Junior Jade Vorster, in her first season since transferring from Hawai'i, ranks second in the Big South with 1.18 blocks per set. She has set a new program single-season rally-scoring record with 30 solo blocks this season.
2a Sisters Jade and Sirena Vorster were both honored by the conference on Oct. 28, when Jade was named Big South Player of the Week and Sirena, Freshman of the Week.
3 The Lady Flames are seeded third in the Big South tournament for the fourth time, and first since 2006. Liberty is 5-2 all-time as the third seed, winning the title in 2001 and finishing second in 1992.
3a Senior Gabrielle Shipe ranks third in program history with 1,704 career digs. She needs 22 more digs to enter the Big South's all-time career top 10.
4 Four Lady Flames have posted multiple double-doubles so far this season, in Caila Stapleton (12), Caroline Douglas (10), Gabrielle Shipe (2) and Anna Willey (2).
5 Liberty is 4-2 in five-set matches so far this season, including two wins after trailing, 2-0. In Big South tournament play, the Lady Flames have gone 5-5 in five-set contests.
6 Junior setter Caila Stapleton is the sixth Liberty setter to record 1,000 or more assists in a single season during the rally-scoring era. She recorded 11 straight 40-assist matches, from Sept. 20 through Oct. 18.
7 Liberty has won a conference-record seven Big South tournament championships, with the seventh coming in 2012, a 3-1 win over Coastal Carolina. Seven current Lady Flames were on the active roster for the 2012 Big South final victory.
13 Liberty went on a season-best 13-match winning streak, from Sept. 20 through Oct. 25, its longest since a program-record 16-match winning streak during the 2007 season.
15 On Oct. 18 at Coastal Carolina, Caroline Douglas became the 15th player in program history with 1,000 career kills. She has posted 10 20-kill matches this season, one off of Jennifer Vaden's program rally-scorig record of 11 in 2004.
18 This is the 18th season in a row that the Lady Flames enter the Big South Volleyball Championship with a win.
18a From Sept. 6 through Oct. 18, a span of 18 matches, both Caroline Douglas and Hannah Weidner both registered at least 10 kills. Weidner tied a program rally-scoring record with 19 straight 10-kill matches.
20 Caroline Douglas (22) and Hannah Weidner (20) both scored 20 kills during a 3-1 win at Coastal Carolina on Oct. 18. With the win, Liberty became the second team in NCAA Division I this season (after Colorado State) to earn its 20th win, at 20-5.
30 Liberty downed Virginia on Sept. 23 at the Vines Center, marking the Lady Flames' first win over the Cavaliers since 1979 and ending a 30-match losing streak in the series.
Lady Flames Earn Postseason Honors
On Tuesday, redshirt junior Caroline Douglas was named to the Big South All-Conference first team, her second first-team all-conference award.
Juniors Caila Stapleton and Jade Vorster, along with freshman Hannah Weidner, were voted to the all-conference second team. This is the fifth time in the last six seasons in which Liberty has had four All-Big South selections.
Weidner and Sirena Vorster appeared on the All-Freshman team, while Stapleton was named to the All-Academic team.
Scouting High Point
High Point (12-15, 6-8) has won four out of its last six matches after starting league play at 2-6. Big South All-Freshman team member Camryn Freiberg ranks second in the Big South with a .340 hitting percentage. Honorable mention all-conference choice Gabi Mirand is third in the conference with 10.28 assists per set. All-conference first team selection Kristin Heldt's 3.28 kills per set are ranked seventh. Wavie Chin (4.90 digs per set) is rated third in the conference in digs. Freshman Haley Barnes averages 2.59 kills per set.
Jason Oliver, in his sixth season at High Point, has a 97-92 career record. He led the Panthers to the 2010 Big South championship, and an NCAA Tournament appearance.
Liberty leads High Point, 29-10, in the all-time series, including 13-10 under Pinder and 7-6 when Pinder's Lady Flames meet Oliver's Panthers. The Lady Flames are 2-1 all-time in conference tournament play against High Point. The Panthers defeated Liberty, 3-0, in the 2010 Big South Volleyball Championship final.
This season, on Oct. 11 at the Vines Center, High Point led Liberty, 2-0, and 19-13 in set three, before the Lady Flames rallied to stun the Panthers in a five-set thriller. High Point then downed Liberty, 3-1, at the Millis Center on Nov. 7.
Liberty sped to a 22-5 record to start the season, thanks in part to a 13-match winning streak, from Sept. 20 through Oct. 25. The Lady Flames started out the conference schedule at 9-0, the best start to Big South play in program history. Since then, Liberty has gone 1-4 to finish out a 23-9 regular-season campaign, including 10-4 in Big South play.
On Sept. 23, the Lady Flames picked up a big, 3-2 win over Virginia, Liberty's first victory against the Cavaliers since 1979, a span of 30 meetings.
11th-year head coach Shane Pinder became Liberty's winningest volleyball coach on Oct. 3, recording his 199th career coaching victory.
Liberty is 14-1 when winning the first set this season, while going 9-8 in matches after losing the first session.
The Lady Flames have now posted 10 or more Big South victories in seven out of the last eight seasons.