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Lady Flame Netters Begin Intrasquad Scrimmages

August 13, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Lady Flames huddle before a drill during Monday morning's practice.

The Lady Flames huddle before a drill during Monday morning's practice.

Beginning Saturday morning, the Liberty volleyball team has been incorporating intrasquad scrimmages into each day's practice schedule. Just 11 days away from the season opener against Howard, the Lady Flames have utilized these scrimmage sessions as a time to develop on-court team chemistry with their five newcomers.

"We used the first couple days of practice to go over all of our basic principles, both offensively and defensively," explained head coach Shane Pinder. "Now, we're still going through drills and the more technical aspects of the game in the mornings. Then, we let them play in the afternoon. With as many new people as we have, we need to let our players play with one another and build some chemistry."

The second of Monday's two practices at the Vines Center featured two games to 30 points and a third to 20. The third contest was a back-and-forth affair throughout. One team included Lara Bartolomeo, Mary Alice Pike, Kirstyn Sanders and Nicki Scripko as well as assistant coaches Becky Rudnick and Jennifer Vaden and 2006 volunteer assistant Johnathan Willis, who is helping out the Lady Flames until he begins his new job. (More on that later.) Their attack featured some powerful kills by Rudnick and Willis, and the unit held a 17-16 advantage at one point.

On the other side of the net stood a complete collection of current players—Karyl Bacon, Kallie Corbin, Chelaine McCarty, Jessica Nelson, Brittany Pacella, Carmen Streeper and Ashley Webber. Unwilling to be shown up by their coaches, the all-player side rallied to score four of the practice's final five points and claim a 20-18 triumph. They took control with three straight points, as Corbin dumped her set right into the middle of the defensive formation for a kill, Nelson added a kill of her own and Streeper served up an ace, with the aid of a fortuitous bounce off the net.

At the scrimmage's conclusion, Pinder highlighted several players who have excelled thus far in the preseason. "Jess Nelson is back and her athleticism on the outside makes a difference," Pinder noted. "Chelaine McCarty is playing really strong in the middle right now. Karyl Bacon has also shown us a lot as a young player, with all of her athleticism.

"We're playing with a lot of energy and are playing hard," continued Pinder. "We're just starting to fight a little fatigue right now."

In an effort to allow his players to recover from the grind of two-a-day practices and weightlifting sessions, Pinder has bumped the start of Tuesday morning's practice back from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. That practice, along with the regularly scheduled 3-6 p.m. afternoon session, will be held in the Vines Center.

Outside the Lines
Willis is the new head women's volleyball coach across town at Randolph College (formerly Randolph-Macon Woman's College.) Willis' coaching debut will come Aug. 31 at the Emory and Henry Invitational.

Dormitories opened to incoming Liberty students on Monday, causing the campus to bustle with activity. A number of freshmen and their parents dropped by the Vines Center to take a look at practice throughout the day.

Bartolomeo has seen playing time at both setter and libero during her three seasons at Liberty. The team's starting libero in 2006, she has been splitting time between setter and libero during the preseason. The senior was setting during the practice-closing scrimmage Monday afternoon.

Bacon, a freshman from California, looks like a libero herself, standing just 5-6. However, she possesses the highest vertical leap on the team and has been taking a lot of swings so far, from both the front row and the back row.