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Liberty Set to Host Conference Leader Radford, Friday
Liberty (6-16, 5-4 Big South) returns home to the Vines Center on Friday night for a key Big South matchup, hosting conference leader Radford (18-8, 7-2) at 7 p.m. The Lady Flames will look to avenge a 3-0 setback at Radford, Sept. 27.
Radford leads the Big South standings, one match ahead of Coastal Carolina (6-3). Gardner-Webb and High Point are tied for third, at 5-3, with Liberty and Presbyterian in a fifth-place tie at 5-4. The top seven teams are separated by just 2.5 matches total.
Liberty at a Glance
Liberty knocked off Presbyterian College, 3-1, on Friday, before falling in five sets at Winthrop, Saturday. After starting the season, 1-14, and 0-2 in Big South play, Liberty is 5-2 in its last seven matches, The Lady Flames averaged 2.78 blocks per set over the weekend, and currently pace the conference with 2.29 blocks per set
On Friday at PC, junior Gabrielle Shipe became the 19th player in program history to collect 1,000 career digs. On Saturday, Senior Lillie Happel passed former teammate Karyl Bacon (2007-10) into 11th all-time at Liberty, with 1,161 career kills.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for Friday night's match, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats will appear courtesy of Liberty's Athletics Communications office. The match can also be viewed through free live video streaming via the Big South Network, with Ray Jones on play-by-play and Erin McKeown providing analysis.
Liberty went 1-1 this past weekend in South Carolina, defeating first-place Presbyterian College, 3-1, on Friday before falling in five sets at Winthrop, Saturday.
On Friday, the Lady Flames hit a season-best .295, getting 10 or more kills from Caroline Douglas, Lillie Happel and Melissa Racz. Liberty also recorded 13 blocks, including six from Kendle Rollins.
Saturday's match saw Liberty take a 2-0 lead into intermission, before Winthrop won the final three sets in a row to down the Lady Flames at Winthrop Coliseum.
Junior Gabrielle Shipe recorded 21 digs on Friday at PC, becoming the 19th player in program history with 1,000 or more career digs. She added 20 digs at Winthrop, and is now 18th on the list, with 1,026 digs. Shipe has now posted back-to-back 20-dig matches twice in 2013, also doing so versus Green Bay (Aug. 31) and Georgetown (Sept. 3).
Own the Net
The Lady Flames are back at the top of the conference in blocking, averaging 2.29 blocks per set. Liberty recorded 13 blocks on Friday at PC and added 12 blocks, Saturday.
Redshirt senior Kendle Rollins, currently ranked fourth in the Big South with 1.01 blocks per set overall, recorded six blocks on Friday before tying a season high with seven blocks on Saturday. Rollins has now tallied 12 seven-block matches in her career. Loren Thomas (2009-12), with 14, is the only Liberty player in the rally-scoring era with more seven-block matches than Rollins. Rollins is ranked No. 5 all-time at Liberty with 384 career blocks.
Freshman Nzea McQuitery averages 1.00 blocks per set during conference play, tying her for fifth in the Big South in blocking in league matches.
Triple-Double in Progress
Senior setter Jade Craycraft recorded her third triple-double of the season, and fourth of her career, on Oct. 19 against Coastal Carolina, with 10 kills, 30 assists and 11 digs. Among Lady Flames since the start of the 2001 season, only Kallie Corbin (2006-09) posted more career triple-doubles than Craycraft, with six.
Craycraft is now ranked fifth all-time at Liberty with 3,912 career assists, and needs 88 more assists to reach 4,000 for her career.
Redshirt sophomore Caroline Douglas, the 2012 Big South Player and Freshman of the Year, missed all but one of Liberty's first 19 matches this season due to injury. In three matches since returning full-time to the court, Douglas has recorded double-digit kills each time out, and is averaging 3.00 kills per set.
With 16 kills on Saturday at Winthrop, senior Lillie Happel passed former teammate Karyl Bacon (2007-10) into 11th place all-time at Liberty, with 1,161 career kills. She is just four kills shy entering the top 10, surpassing current Liberty assistant coach Rebecca Rudnick (2001-04), who had 1,164 kills. Jennifer (Belk) Vaden (2001-04), Liberty assistant coach, sits in third with 1,789 career kills.
Serving Up Aces
Lillie Happel served up a season-high four aces on Friday at Presbyterian, while Gabrielle Shipe recorded two aces on both Friday and Saturday.
Over the span of the last four matches, Liberty is averaging 1.53 aces per set. During that time frame, Happel has registered nine aces and Shipe has chipped in with seven aces.
The Lady Flames are third in the Big South in both hitting percentage (.231) and opponents' hitting percentage (.170) during conference play.
In league matches, Liberty's Jade Craycraft (.341) and Kendle Rollins (.331) are third and sixth, respectively, in the Big South in attack percentage.
Liberty vs. Radford
Big South leader Radford (18-8, 7-2 Big South) is 4-0 in conference away matches so far this season. The Highlanders lead the conference in both hitting percentage (.249) and opponents' hitting percentage (.173) overall.
Rachel Wiechecki leads Radford with 3.39 kills and 3.30 digs per set, and ranks second in the Big South with 0.43 aces per set. Cheyanne James, defending Big South Player of the Week, averages 2.68 kills per set. Emma Deininger, named Big South Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, leads the conference in blocks per set (1.08) while ranking third in attack percentage (.325). Jenna Braden averages 7.99 assists per set.
Liberty holds a 41-26 overall record against Radford in volleyball. The Lady Flames had won 24 straight meetings with the Highlanders before a 3-0 Radford win, Sept. 27 at the Dedmon Center. Radford's most recent volleyball win over Liberty at the Vines Center came Nov. 6, 2001, a 3-2 Highlanders victory.
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.
Last Meeting - Sept. 27, 2013
Radford swept visiting Liberty, 3-0 (28-26, 26-24, 25-19) on Sept. 27, 2013 at the Dedmon Center, to open both teams' Big South Conference schedule. The loss ended Liberty's 24-match winning streak over the Highlanders, and marked the team's first conference-opening setback since 2004.
Rachel Wiechecki recorded a match-high 14 kills and 20 digs for Radford, while Emma Deininger and Cheyanne James had 10 kills each. Liberty's Haley Jeffcoat led the Lady Flames with a career-high 13 kills and Lillie Happel totaled 12 kills and 17 digs.
Liberty's Record at Home
Liberty has gone 24-1 in its last 25 home matches, and 45-5 (.900) in its last 50 home contests. The Lady Flames are 75-24 (.758) at home under 10th-year head coach Shane Pinder.
The Lady Flames have gone 24-2 (.923) in conference home matches during the careers of their four current seniors (Jade Craycraft, Lillie Happel, Becca Haraf, Kendle Rollins). Overall under Coach Pinder, Liberty is 57-12 (.826) in Big South home matches, including 50-5 (.909) since the start of the 2006 season.
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.