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Lady Flames Host Georgetown in Home Opener, Tuesday
After opening the 2013 campaign at the NIU Invitational over the weekend, Liberty volleyball (0-3) begins its week by hosting Georgetown (2-1) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. inside the Vines Center. The Lady Flames, who play 13 out of their first 14 matches away from Lynchburg, are on a 14-match home winning streak.
On Friday and Saturday, Liberty will compete in the Kentucky Classic, facing Commonwealth rival VCU along with a pair of 2012 NCAA Tournament participants, East Tennessee State and the host and 21st-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.
Liberty at a Glance
Two-time defending Big South champion Liberty went winless at the NIU Invitational to open its season. The Lady Flames fell, 3-0, to No. 23 Ohio State in the season opener, with the match decided by just eight points. Junior libero Gabrielle Shipe was named to the all-tournament team, averaging 5.22 digs per set.
Liberty was voted as the preseason favorite in the Big South this year, after going 25-8 overall and 12-2 in conference play last season. Redshirt sophomore Caroline Douglas was named Big South Preseason Player of the Year, while senior Jade Craycraft joined her on the Preseason All-Conference team.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for all of this week's matches, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Fans can view the Liberty-Georgetown match through live video streaming via the Big South Network, with Ray Jones and Erin McKeown. Liberty's contest against Kentucky on Saturday will be video streamed, for a small fee, through UKTube online.
- Liberty has won 14 straight home matches, and 26 home sets in a row.
- Liberty has gone 7-2 in home openers under Head Coach Shane Pinder (won 4 straight).
- The Lady Flames have won 20 or more matches for six straight seasons.
- Two-time defending champion Liberty is the preseason favorite in the Big South poll.
- Caroline Douglas was named the 2013 Big South Preseason Player of the Year.
- Pinder, in his 10th year, is one win shy of 175 for his career.
- Senior Lillie Happel enters the week 31 kills away from 1,000.
- Junior Gabrielle Shipe was named to the NIU Invitational All-Tournament team, Saturday.
Week in Review
The Lady Flames, playing without the services of Big South Preseason Player of the Year Caroline Douglas, went 0-3 at the NIU Invitational over the weekend. Liberty opened the season against No. 23 Ohio State, falling 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 26-24) in its first-ever season opener versus a Top 25 program. Lillie Happel sent down 15 kills against the Buckeyes. The Lady Flames fell to Northern Illinois and Green Bay on Saturday, despite a 10-kill match from Kendle Rollins against Green Bay.
Gabrielle Shipe averaged 5.22 digs during the weekend, collecting a season-high 20 digs against Green Bay on Saturday. Shipe was named to the all-tournament team. The Lady Flames outblocked each opponent, 8-5, on the weekend, averaging 2.67 blocks per set. Setter Jade Craycraft led Liberty with 1.22 blocks per set.
Who Else Can Say That?
Liberty volleyball has posted six straight 20-win seasons, earned six straight conference regular-season titles and made six consecutive appearances in the conference final (2007-2012). The Lady Flames are the only volleyball team in NCAA Division I to accomplish this feat.
Since the Start of the 2007 Season, Liberty is:
- one of four volleyball programs in NCAA Division I to have won or shared their conference or division regular-season championship in each of the last six years.
- one of six volleyball programs in NCAA Division I to appear in its conference championship match in each of the last six seasons.
- one of 21 volleyball programs in NCAA Division I to win 20 or more matches in each of the last six seasons.
On the Way to 1,000
Senior outside hitter Lillie Happel, a two-time all-conference selection, has recorded 969 career kills. She is currently 31 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 averaged 2.67 blocks per set at the NIU Invitational, and Liberty leads the Big South in blocking so far in 2013. Setter Jade Craycraft averaged 1.22 blocks per set, while Kendle Rollins recorded 0.89 blocks per set.
Rollins is now tied with Ashley Webber (2005-08) for seventh all-time at Liberty with 318 career blocks. She is seven blocks away from taking over sixth, which is currently held by Nicole Nice (1989-92).
Setting the Tone
Senior Jade Craycraft, the 2012 Big South Tournament MVP, is a three-time all-conference setter. She was named to the Big South All-Conference first team in 2012, when she led the team with 1,152 assists and 11 double-doubles. Craycraft guided the Lady Flames to a program-record and conference-best .250 team hitting percentage last year.
Craycraft enters the weekend sixth in program history with 3,365 career assists. A versatile player, she also has a triple-double (2010 at Winthrop) and a 10-block match (2011 at Radford) to her credit.
Junior libero Gabrielle Shipe finished fourth in the Big South with 510 digs last season, and was twice named the Big South Defensive Player of the Week. She reached double-figures in digs 25 times, including each of the final 13 matches of the season.
Shipe collected a season-high 20 digs on Saturday against Kentucky, her seventh career 20-dig match. She has totaled 10 or more digs in each of the team's last 16 matches, dating back to last season.
Liberty vs. Georgetown
Georgetown (2-1) won two out of three matches at the season-opening D.C. Challenge, downing Howard and George Mason, while falling to American. The Hoyas finished the 2012 season with a 7-21 record, including 1-14 in the BIG EAST. Junior middle blocker Dani White, a 2012 All-BIG EAST second team selection, paces Georgetown with 1.09 blocks per set. Junior Alex Johnson averages 3.73 kills per set to pace the Hoyas. Freshman Caitlin Brauneis posts 10.18 assists per set, while junior Mackenzie Simpson records 4.27 digs on average.
The series between Liberty and Georgetown is tied at 2-2, with the Hoyas sweeping the first two meetings in 1989 and 1990. Liberty has won the most recent two meetings, downing Georgetown in four sets on Nov. 23, 2007 and Sept. 18, 2012.
Arlisa Williams, Georgetown's eighth-year head coach, holds a 79-125 career record. Williams has an 0-2 career record against the Lady Flames.
The Last Meeting
Liberty hit .352 during a 3-1 win (25-21, 18-25, 28-26, 25-20) over Georgetown in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2012. In the process, the Lady Flames snapped a three-match winless streak, while the Hoyas sustained their sixth loss in a row.
Liberty's Caroline Douglas and the Hoyas' Dani White tied for the match high with 18 kills apiece. Loren Thomas hit a career-high .700 in connecting for 15 kills for the Lady Flames. Lady Flames Kendle Rollins (six blocks) and Monica Johnson (five blocks) contributed to Liberty's 9-7 advantage in total blocks.
Liberty's Record at Home
Liberty has gone 24-1 in its last 25 home matches, and 44-6 in its last 50 home contests. The Lady Flames are 71-23 under 10th-year head coach Shane Pinder.
Liberty also holds three extended home winning streaks at present, winning 14 straight home matches overall, 26 straight home sets, and 21 conference home contests in a row.
The Lady Flames are 7-2 in home openers under Pinder, and 17-7 in the initial home match of the season since 1989. Last year, Liberty won the home opener for the fourth season in a row, downing William & Mary, 3-1, on Aug. 31.
Shane Pinder, in his 10th season as Liberty's head coach, has compiled a 174-124 career record and ranks fourth in the Big South in career coaching victories. He needs 25 more victories to pass Chris Phillips (1992-97, 99-2003) and move into first place on Liberty's all-time list in volleyball coaching wins.
Liberty's next victory will be Pinder's 175th career win and will also be the 700th victory in program history. The Lady Flames have averaged nearly 19 wins per season since the founding of the program in 1976.