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Coach's Corner with Shane Pinder
Following a championship season for the Liberty volleyball team in 2012, Nick Pierce of the Flames Sports Network sat down with ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder to review the 2012 campaign.
Liberty posted a 25-8 record, including 12-2 in conference play, winning the Big South regular-season championship for the sixth year in a row while earning its sixth straight 20-win campaign. The Lady Flames downed Coastal Carolina in the Big South Volleyball Championship title match on Nov. 18, good for Liberty's seventh conference tournament title, second in a row and fourth in the last six seasons.
Liberty made a strong statement during the first round of the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship, playing a tightly-contested match at No. 8 seed Minnesota. After Liberty fell, 25-21, in set one, the Golden Gophers edged the Lady Flames, 34-32, in set three, the longest national tournament set under the current 25-point rally-scoring format.
The Lady Flames were nearly unbeatable at home this season, losing just one set at the Vines Center while posting a 9-0 home record. Liberty has now won 14 straight home matches and 26 straight home sets overall, and have won a program-record 21 consecutive conference home contests. The team won 3-1 over William & Mary on Aug. 28, and then swept its remaining eight opponents at home this season.
The Lady Flames took a 10-match winning streak into the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship. Their 10-match winning streak was tied for the second longest in Liberty's Division I history, trailing the 16-match winning streak staged by the 2007 Lady Flames.
Earlier this year, Liberty went on an eight-match winning streak to open the campaign at 8-1. Included in that early run was a victory over eventual Conference-USA runner-up UCF on Sept. 1.
Pinder entered the top five on the Big South's all-time career coaching victories list, and he currently sits in fourth place with 174 career coaching victories. He won his conference-record third Big South Volleyball Coach of the Year award this season.
The Lady Flames placed four players on the Big South All-Conference team for the fourth season in a row, garnering three first-team members for the first time in program history. Caroline Douglas, Jade Craycraft and Loren Thomas were all named to the all-conference first team, while Lillie Happel made the second team.
Liberty also became the first team in Big South history to sweep all four top conference volleyball honors. Douglas, a redshirt freshman, was named Big South Player of the Year and Big South Freshman of the Year, the first conference volleyball player to receive both awards during the same season. Junior Becca Haraf was named Big South Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year.
Craycraft earned Big South Tournament MVP mention and was joined on the all-tournament team by Douglas and Thomas. Douglas received additional honors in December, being named an AVCA All-East Region honorable mention selection. Douglas is the sixth Lady Flame all-time, and first since Chelaine McCarty in 2009, to be named to the all-region team.
The Lady Flames led the Big South with a program-record .251 hitting percentage, and also led in kills per set and assists per set. Douglas paced the conference in kills, while Craycraft and Thomas were 1-2 in hitting percentage.