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Lady Flames Set to Open Big South Slate at Radford, Friday
Two-time defending Big South champion Liberty (1-11) opens the 2013 Big South Conference schedule against Commonwealth rival Radford (10-6), Friday at 7 p.m. at the Dedmon Center. The Lady Flames are playing their ninth straight match away from Lynchburg, and will next compete in the Vines Center next Friday night against Gardner-Webb.
Liberty has posted a 17-5 all-time record in conference openers, and has won its last eight Big South lid-lifters. This will mark the 10th time overall, and third season in a row, Liberty has opened the conference schedule against Radford.
Liberty at a Glance
The Lady Flames have faced a tough road so far, as their first 12 opponents have attained a .680 combined winning percentage (104-49) this season. Liberty was voted as the preseason favorite to win the Big South championship.
Redshirt senior Kendle Rollins leads the Big South with 1.16 blocks per set this season. Fellow middle blocker, freshman Nzea McQuitery, was named to the all-tournament team at the WVU Gold & Blue Players Challenge this past weekend.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Friday's match at Radford, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats will appear courtesy of the Radford University Office of Athletics Communications. Fans can also view the match, free of charge, through a live video stream, available via the Big South Network.
Week in Review
Liberty posted an 0-2 record at the WVU Gold & Blue Players Challenge, falling to West Virginia and former Big South opponent UMBC.
During Liberty's 3-1 loss to UMBC, senior Lillie Happel posted a match-high 16 kills, followed by 11 kills from McQuitery. Senior Jade Craycraft recorded her 26th career double-double, redshirt senior Kendle Rollins added seven blocks and sophomore Allie Reynolds collected a career-high 15 digs.
McQuitery Named to All-Tournament Team
Freshman middle blocker Nzea McQuitery was named to the WVU Gold & Blue Players Challenge All-Tournament Team. She tied for the team lead with 16 kills over the span of two matches. McQuitery tied her career high with 11 kills against UMBC, and ranks second on the team in both kills per set (1.94) and attack percentage (.225).
Liberty outblocked both of its opponents this past weekend, averaging 2.71 blocks per set in Morgantown, W.Va. The Lady Flames got 1.71 blocks per set from redshirt senior Kendle Rollins, while senior Jade Craycraft averaged 1.14 blocks per set.
Rollins tied her season high with seven blocks on Saturday against UMBC, her 10th career seven-block match. On the season, she leads the Big South with 1.16 blocks per set. She is fifth all-time at Liberty, recording 354 career blocks.
Senior outside hitter Lillie Happel, a two-time all-conference selection, recorded her 1,000th career kill at No. 21 Kentucky, Sept. 7. In the process, she became the 14th player in program history to record 1,000 career kills. She currently has 1,035 kills at Liberty.
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.
On Saturday against UMBC, the Lady Flames tied a season high with 63 digs. Sophomore Allie Reynolds collected a career-high 15 digs, followed by 14 digs by junior Gabrielle Shipe and 11 digs from senior Jade Craycraft. It marked the first time this season that three Lady Flames posted 10 or more digs in the same match.
Reynolds' 15-dig match gives Liberty five players with at least one 15-dig match in their careers. Gabrielle Shipe (career-high: 29), Lillie Happel (23), Becca Haraf (19) and Jade Craycraft (16) all hold career highs of 15 or more digs as well.
Versatility at Setter
Senior Jade Craycraft has shown versatility throughout her career. On Saturday, she registered 35 assists and 11 digs, good for her 26th career double-double, and second this season. In her career, she has posted one triple-double (Nov. 19, 2010 at Winthrop), one assists-blocks double-double (Sept. 23, 2011 at Radford), and one kills-assists double-double (Sept. 3, 2013 vs. Georgetown).
Craycraft has totaled 3,574 career assists, ranking sixth in program history. She has also recorded 250 blocks, and passed Kallie Corbin (244 blocks from 2006-09) for the most blocks by a Liberty setter with 3,500 or more assists.
Blocking the Highlanders
Over the last two seasons, Liberty has averaged 3.09 blocks per set against Radford, as the Lady Flames are 5-0 versus the Highlanders during that span.
On Sept. 23, 2011 at Radford, the Lady Flames posted a program rally-scoring-record 20.5 blocks. During that match, current Lady Flames Jade Craycraft (10 blocks) and Melissa Racz (8 blocks) set career highs, while former Liberty standout Loren Thomas broke Liberty's rally-scoring record with 12 blocks.
Kendle Rollins posted a career-high nine blocks on Oct. 26, 2012 at Radford, while Caroline Douglas recorded a personal-best five blocks in that match.
Radford (10-6) leads the Big South in hitting percentage (.252), opponents' hitting percentage (.173) and blocks per set (2.38) so far this season.
Freshman Jordan Watson, three-time Big South Freshman of the Week, is rated third in the conference with 3.24 kills per set. Rachel Wiechecki paces the Big South and ranks 11th nationally with 0.55 aces per set, in addition to 3.14 kills per set. Emma Deininger is second in the conference in blocks per set (1.12) and fifth in attack percentage (.311). Jena Braden leads the Highlanders with 7.82 assists per set.
Liberty holds a 41-25 overall record against Radford in volleyball, and the Lady Flames have won each of the last 24 meetings with the Highlanders. Radford's most recent win over Liberty in volleyball came Nov. 6, 2001, a 3-2 Highlanders victory in the Vines Center.
The Lady Flames and Highlanders have met in the Big South Championship final on three occasions, with Liberty downing Radford for the title in 1999, 2001 and 2011.
Liberty vs. Radford - 2012
The Lady Flames swept Radford, 3-0 (27-25, 25-15, 25-22) on Sept. 21, 2012 at the Vines Center to open the Big South Conference schedule.
Led by a career-high 26 kills from Lillie Happel, Liberty then edged the Highlanders, 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 15-8), at the Dedmon Center on Oct. 26. Kendle Rollins added a career-high nine blocks for the Lady Flames, who registered 15.5 blocks as a team. Four Highlanders reached double-figures in kills, led by Rachel Wiechecki's 16.
Three out of the last four Liberty-Radford volleyball regular-season matches have gone a full five sets, with Liberty winning, 3-2, each time.
Big South Opener
All-time in Big South openers, Liberty is 17-5, having won the last eight conference openers and 12 out of the last 13. The most recent conference-opening setback came Sept. 25, 2004 at Birmingham-Southern.
Entering Friday, the Lady Flames have played their first conference match away from Lynchburg 15 out of their 22 seasons in the Big South. Liberty is 7-0 when the conference opener is at home, 9-4 away, and 1-1 in neutral-site league lid-lifters.
Big South Freshman of the Year
Liberty and Radford have combined to win the last three Big South Freshman of the Year awards in a row. Liberty's Jade Craycraft won in 2010, followed by Emma Deininger of Radford in 2011. Current Lady Flame Caroline Douglas was named both Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year last season. Additionally, Jennifer (Belk) Vaden, currently a Liberty assistant coach, was the 2001 Big South Freshman of the Year.