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Liberty Begins Title Defense at Big South Volleyball Championship, Thursday
Big South Championship Central
Complete Tournament Notes
Liberty (10-17, 9-5 Big South), the No. 4 seed and two-time defending champion, opens the 2013 Big South Volleyball Championship on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. against fifth-seeded UNC Asheville (17-13, 7-7). The Big South's postseason volleyball tournament will be held at the Templeton Center on the campus of Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C.
The winner of Thursday's match will advance to a semifinal contest on Friday at 4:30 p.m., versus the winner of the match between No. 1 seed Radford and No. 8 seed Gardner-Webb. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the winning team advancing to the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
Liberty at a Glance
The Lady Flames went 9-3 over its final 12 matches of the regular season, and bring a three-match winning streak into the postseason. During conference play, Liberty led the Big South with a .154 opponents' hitting percentage. Liberty has appeared in each of the last six Big South finals, and will look for its third championship in a row.
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 McKeown serving as color analyst.
Tournament Quick Points
The Lady Flames are 35-15 all-time in Big South tournament matches, holding the conference record for tournament victories (35), 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 final match during each of the last six seasons, winning the title in four of those six appearances (2007, 2008, 2011, 2012).
Presbyterian College hosts the Big South Volleyball Championship for the first time ever. Two of Liberty's seven tournament championships have been captured in South Carolina, as the Lady Flames won the 1999 and 2011 tournaments in Charleston, S.C.
Liberty is the No. 4 seed for the third time, and first since 2002. The Lady Flames are 3-2 all-time as the fourth seed, including an appearance in the 2002 final.
Liberty Volleyball By the Numbers
1 Liberty currently sits atop the Big South statistical charts in blocks per set both overall (2.35) and in conference play (2.47). Redshirt senior Kendle Rollins, whose jersey number is 1, paces the Big South with 1.13 blocks per set.
2 Liberty, two-time defending conference tournament champion, seeks its first three-peat in program history (has claimed back-to-back titles twice, 2007-08, 2011-12).
2a Allie Reynolds and Gabrielle Shipe have both had multiple 20-dig matches this year.
3 The Lady Flames enter the Big South Volleyball Championship on a three-match winning streak, posting sweeps of Campbell, UNC Asheville and Gardner-Webb.
4 Liberty is the fourth seed in the Big South tournament for just the third time, and first since 2002, when the Lady Flames qualified for the Big South final against Winthrop. This is Liberty's lowest seed since finishing the 2005 season in sixth place.
4a Shane Pinder ranks fourth in the Big South all-time with 184 career victories. He is also the third volleyball coach in Big South history with 100 or more conference wins.
5 Senior setter Jade Craycraft has registered a program-record five triple-doubles this season. Craycraft currently ranks fifth in program history with 4,078 career assists.
5a Senior DS Becca Haraf, 2012 Big South Co-Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was named to the Capital One Academic All-District III Team, the fifth Liberty player to do so.
6 Liberty has qualified for each of the last six Big South Volleyball Championship final matches, winning in 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2012.
7 Junior Gabrielle Shipe has registered seven 20-dig matches this season, including a career-high 31 against High Point on Nov. 8. Shipe is currently 15th in program history with 1,123 career digs.
8 In eight matches since coming back full-time from injury, 2012 Big South Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year Caroline Douglas has averaged a team-high 3.03 kills per set. During those eight matches, Liberty is 6-2.
8a Eight different Lady Flames (Susan Babcock, Jade Craycraft, Caroline Douglas, Lillie Happel, Haley Jeffcoat, Nzea McQuitery, Melissa Racz and Kendle Rollins) have all recorded at least one 10-kill match this season.
9 When Jade Craycraft was named 2012 Big South Tournament MVP, it marked the ninth time that a Lady Flame had received conference tournament MVP recognition.
11 Following a 3-1 win over Georgetown, Sept. 3, the Lady Flames went on an 11-match winless streak, starting the season, 1-14. Since that point, Liberty has gone 9-3.
11a Redshirt senior Kendle Rollins became the first Lady Flame in rally-scoring history with back-to-back 10-block matches when she posted a career-high 11 blocks against High Point, Nov. 8. Rollins is currently fifth in program history with 414 career blocks.
12 Senior Lillie Happel, No. 12 on the roster, is 10th all-time at Liberty with 1,199 career kills. She also needs 22 more digs to reach 1,000 for her career.
Lady Flames Earn Postseason Honors
On Tuesday, senior Jade Craycraft was named to the Big South All-Conference first team, her fourth career All-Big South mention. She joins Anthonia Akpama (1996-99) and Kallie Corbin (2006-09) as the only four-time all-conference players in program history.
Senior Lillie Happel and redshirt senior Kendle Rollins were both named to the Big South All-Conference honorable mention squad.
Senior Becca Haraf earned her second career Big South All-Academic Team honor, while middle blocker Nzea McQuitery was voted to the All-Freshman Team.
Scouting UNC Asheville
UNC Asheville (17-13, 7-7 Big South) was 8-0 at home this season before suffering back-to-back home losses to Liberty and Radford this past week. The Bulldogs lead the Big South with 17.42 digs per set. Junior Rachel Wells, a 2013 Big South All-Conference first-team selection, averages 6.42 digs per set, tops in the nation. Fellow all-conference first-team choice, middle blocker Anna Moore, is third in the Big South with a .323 attack percentage, and fifth with 1.00 blocks per set.
Third-year head coach Frederico Santos is 44-48 at UNC Asheville following three seasons during which he led Barry to a 46-31 record.
Liberty leads UNC Asheville, 34-20, in the all-time series, including 15-9 under Pinder. The Lady Flames are 6-3 all-time against UNC Asheville in conference tournament play, falling to the Bulldogs in the 1992 final. Most recently, Liberty swept UNC Asheville, 3-0, in the 2011 semifinal, hitting a program tournament-record .430.
The Lady Flames swept UNC Asheville, 3-0, in both meetings this season, including on last Friday night, when Liberty hit a season-best .297 and received double-doubles from Jade Craycraft, Caroline Douglas and Lillie Happel and 25 digs from Gabrielle Shipe. UNC Asheville's Wells collected an astounding 41 digs in the three-set loss.