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Live Stats, Streaming Video Available for Season-Opening Liberty Invitational
Fans who are unable to attend Friday and Saturday's Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi at the Vines Center will be able to keep up with the action on their computers. Liberty's season opener against Howard, Friday night, will be streamed via the Big South EDGE, and live stats, provided by LibertyFlames.com, will be provided for all six weekend matches.
Additionally, an informational webpage for the tournament is available here, or by clicking "Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi" on the volleyball page of LibertyFlames.com. It contains links to live stats and information about the Big South EDGE, as well as a tournament schedule and information about each participating team. Results and boxscores will be added to the page as the tournament progresses.
Live stats are also accessible by clicking here or by clicking "Live Stats" on LibertyFlames.com's volleyball schedule/results page. This feature will be provided for each of the 22 matches to be played at the Vines Center this season.
A number of Liberty matches will be video streamed via the Big South EDGE this season. For more information on this feature, click here, visit the tournament webpage or click "Live Video" on the volleyball schedule/results page.
Fans utilizing these options will see four teams open their respective 2007 volleyball seasons. In addition to the host Lady Flames, Duquesne, Evansville and Howard are all slated to kick off the year at this weekend's event. Each squad will be making its first-ever visit to the Vines Center. A preview of the Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi follows.
The Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi will feature a pair of matches Friday and four tilts on Saturday. Each participating team will take the floor three times during the event. Below is a full tournament schedule.
Friday, Aug. 24
4:30 p.m. – Duquesne vs. Evansville
7 p.m. – Howard vs. Liberty
Saturday, Aug. 25
10:30 a.m. – Duquesne vs. Liberty
1 p.m. – Evansville vs. Howard
3:30 p.m. – Duquesne vs. Howard
6 p.m. – Evansville vs. Liberty
A Look at Liberty
The host Liberty Lady Flames, coached by Shane Pinder (32-59 in three seasons), were 11-18 overall in 2006 and placed third in the Big South Conference regular-season standings with a 9-5 loop mark. Liberty has been picked to finish second in the conference this season, and sophomore setter Kallie Corbin was named to the preseason all-conference team.
Corbin's first season at Liberty earned her Big South Freshman of the Year and VaSID State Rookie of the Year distinction. Other key returnees from last year's squad include senior libero Lara Bartolomeo and senior right-side hitter Mary Alice Pike. A pair of redshirt junior outside hitters, Jessica Nelson and Alysson Sanders, should bolster the Liberty offensive attack. Nelson, the Lady Flames' 2005 leader in kills, has made a successful recovery from a leg injury, which sidelined her for the entire 2006 campaign. In her absence, Sanders stepped in as Liberty's team leader in kills a year ago, finishing with 280.
Fans will also see some new faces on the court this season. Freshmen Karyl Bacon (outside hitter/defensive specialist) and Nicki Scripko (outside hitter), as well as sophomore Chelaine McCarty (middle blocker), a transfer from Auburn, have all excelled in the team's preseason camp.
Liberty will get to play on its home court at the Vines Center quite frequently this season, as the Lady Flames are scheduled to host the Big South Volleyball Championship for the first time since 2001. If Liberty reaches the title match, it will play 16 contests at home in 2007. This is good news for the Lady Flames, who went 6-4 in their 10 home matches last season and are 47-23 at the Vines Center over the last six seasons.
Aiming to Reverse the Trend in Season Openers
Liberty, which has often opened the season with an ambitious non-conference schedule, has struggled in season openers, winning only one of its last 12 season-opening matches. The one victory to kick off the year during the stretch was a 3-0 sweep of George Mason in 1998. Last season, Liberty lost to Portland, 3-0, to begin the year, at the Davidson Mizuno Wildcat Classic.
Conversely, the Lady Flames have won four of their last five home openers, including a 3-0 blanking of conference rival Radford last season. This weekend's invitational will mark the first time since 1987 Liberty has opened a season at home.
Liberty Invitational History
This weekend's tournament will be the 11th time Liberty has hosted an in-season invitational, but the first since 2004. The Lady Flames are 21-11 all-time at home invitationals. They won nine-straight matches at the event between 1995 and 1998, including a perfect 4-0 mark in 1996 and a 3-0 ledger in 1997.
The Duquesne Dukes, from Pittsburgh, Pa., are members of the Atlantic 10 Conference. Steve Opperman is beginning his 10th year at Duquesne, where he is 121-147, and his 17th overall season as a collegiate head coach. His career coaching record is 240-263.
Duquesne, 11-21 a year ago, lost just one player to graduation. Senior middle hitter Jenni Gross, an honorable mention all-conference performer last season, and sophomore setter Chelsea Tillotson, an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie team member, highlight the team's returnees.
Duquesne won its only previous match-up with Liberty, holding off the Lady Flames in five games in the 2002 season opener, at the Duquesne Tournament. Current Lady Flame assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden posted a double-double in the contest (13 kills, 11 digs) and paced Liberty with four aces and four blocks.
The Evansville Purple Aces, from Evansville, Ind., play in the Missouri Valley Conference. The team is coached by Mike Swan, 42-81 in his fifth season at Evansville. He is 429-311 in 21 years as a collegiate head coach.
The Purple Aces return five starters from their 2006 team, which finished 12-18 overall and 6-12 in conference play. Senior libero Julie Walroth, who was the 2006 Missouri Valley Conference Libero of the Year and broke the school record with 651 digs, spearheads Evansville's defense. Her twin sister, Elaine Walroth, plays setter for the Purple Aces. The team also features another set of sisters, junior Kerry Sylvester and freshman Julie Sylvester.
Evansville claimed a 3-1 decision over Liberty at the Morehead State Tournament in 1998, in the two teams' only previous meeting. Anthonia Akpama was the Lady Flames' leader, totaling 16 kills and 10 digs.
The Howard Bison, hailing from Washington, D.C., compete in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Bison are coached by Orlando Larracuente, beginning his second season at the helm. Howard went 9-19 in 2006, his first year as coach.
A trio of starters are back from last year's Howard squad. The top Bison returnees include junior outside hitter Janel James, senior right-side hitter Morgan Maxwell and senior middle blocker Brooke Strode.
Howard and Liberty have never met on the volleyball hardwood. The Lady Flames are 19-1 all-time against current members of the MEAC, though.