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Lady Flames Set for Villanova Classic

September 13, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Head coach Shane Pinder and the Lady Flames head to Villanova for four matches this weekend.

Head coach Shane Pinder and the Lady Flames head to Villanova for four matches this weekend.

The Liberty volleyball team, 5-4 on the young season, has already won its most non-conference matches since 2003. The Lady Flames will look to add to their victory total this Friday and Saturday, with a quartet of matches at the Villanova Classic. The event will serve as the fourth and final season-opening tournament for Liberty.

Tournament Schedule
The Villanova Classic will include a total of 10 matches over two days of competition at Nevin Gymnasium. Each of the five participating teams will be in action four times. A full tournament schedule follows.

Friday, Sept. 14
10 a.m. – Binghamton (6-5) vs. William & Mary (3-5)
12:30 p.m. – Liberty (5-4) vs. Princeton (2-2)
3 p.m. – Binghamton at Villanova (5-3)
5:30 p.m. – Princeton vs. William & Mary
7:30 p.m. – Liberty at Villanova

Saturday, Sept. 15
10 a.m. – Binghamton vs. Princeton
12:30 p.m. – Liberty vs. William & Mary
3 p.m. – Princeton at Villanova
5:30 p.m. – Liberty vs. Binghamton
7:30 p.m. – William & Mary at Villanova

A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (37-63 in his fourth season), went 2-1 last weekend at the Wright State Raider Challenge. After falling to South Florida in four games last Friday, the Lady Flames recorded a pair of Saturday victories, defeating host Wright State in four and sweeping The Citadel. The triumph over The Citadel came in Pinder's 100th match as Liberty's head coach.

Junior middle blocker Ashley Webber enjoyed her best weekend of the season at Wright State, and was rewarded with a spot on the all-tournament team. She hit a team-best .415 with 28 kills and 10 blocks, four of the solo variety, during Liberty's three matches. Webber's most outstanding performance came against the host Raiders, when she tallied a career-high 14 kills on a .636 attack percentage and added six blocks.

Sophomore setter Kallie Corbin joined Webber on the all-tournament team, making it three-consecutive weekends Corbin has made an all-tournament roster. She contributed 118 assists, 20 kills, 37 digs, eight aces and six blocks to the Lady Flames' cause. Corbin notched at least two aces in each Liberty match at Wright State.

The Lady Flames played the tournament without injured freshman standout Karyl Bacon. In her absence, redshirt junior outside hitter Jessica Nelson stepped up her play. Nelson fashioned double-doubles in each Liberty contest, and led the squad in both kills (38) and digs (50).

Senior libero/defensive specialist Lara Bartolomeo has been a steady presence on the Liberty back row all season. She recorded a dozen or more digs in all three matches at Wright State and has posted double-digit digs in eight-straight tilts. One of two seniors on the Liberty roster, Bartolomeo is the team leader with 139 digs on the season.

A Balanced Attack
Six players on the Liberty roster (Karyl Bacon, Chelaine McCarty, Jessica Nelson, Alysson Sanders, Nicki Scripko and Ashley Webber) have recorded at least one match of 12 or more kills already this season. Those six and Kallie Corbin have all reached the 50-kill plateau for the year, putting seven players on pace to easily reach 100 by the end of the season. Only five Lady Flames posted 100 kills in 2006.

Best in the Big South
Liberty leads the Big South Conference in four team statistical categories, entering the week of action. The Lady Flames top the conference in opponent hitting percentage (.160), assists (13.03 apg), kills (14.44 kpg) and digs (18.58 dpg). Liberty also ranks 30th nationally in digs per game.

Individually, Corbin is tied for the conference lead with 0.5 aces per game and is third with 10.75 assists per game. Nelson sits in a tie for second among Big South players with six double-doubles thus far. McCarty and Webber sit third and fourth in attack percentage, at .270 and .269, respectively. Webber is additionally tied for fifth in blocks per game with 0.83 bpg. Finally Bacon is listed fourth in digs per game with 4.44.

What's Next?
The Lady Flames will return to Lynchburg for their first home match in 25 days. Liberty is scheduled to host in-state rival James Madison Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center.

Scouting Reports
The Princeton Tigers, hailing from Princeton, N.J., compete in the academically prestigious Ivy League. The Tigers are coached by Glenn Nelson, who is 543-223 in his 26th season at Princeton.

Princeton, which finished 21-3 and second place in the Ivy League last season, just opened its 2007 campaign last Friday. The Tigers have won consecutive matches to even their ledger at 2-2.

The Tigers' entire starting lineup returns from last season and is complemented by senior libero Jenny McReynolds, who missed the entire 2006 campaign, but led the nation in digs in 2005. Junior middle blocker Lindsey Ensign and junior outside hitter Parker Henritze, both of whom averaged over four kills per game a season ago, return to spark the Princeton attack.

Like Liberty, Princeton's roster features a number of California natives. Nine Californians play for the Tigers, including junior outside hitter Jessica Hoffmann, who lives in Lara Bartolomeo's hometown of Huntington Beach.

The Tigers and Lady Flames have never met on the volleyball court. Liberty has only played three matches against Ivy League teams in program history, dropping all three decisions. Princeton will be the first Ivy League opponent the Lady Flames have faced since 1993, when Liberty squared off with both Cornell and Yale.

The tournament host Villanova Wildcats are based in Villanova, Pa., just outside Philadelphia. First-year head coach Josh Steinbach mans the Wildcat bench and has won five of his first eight matches.

Villanova was 16-15 a season ago, finishing in the middle of the pack in the Big East Conference, but qualifying for the conference's postseason tournament. Four starters are back from the 2006 roster.

Seniors Kacy Sellers and Alona Cherkez, a native of the Ukraine, have combined for nearly 60 percent of the Wildcats' kills this season. Both surpassed the 1,000-career kill milestone at last weekend's Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. The duo has helped Villanova win four of its past five matches to improve to 5-3.

Liberty and Villanova have split their two previous match-ups. The Lady Flames, then coached by Sue Kelly, closed the 1989 season with a 3-0 sweep of the Wildcats at the Villanova Invitational. Villanova returned the favor two years later, at the Virginia Jefferson Cup.

Liberty is meeting a Big East foe for the second-straight weekend, after dropping a 3-1 decision to South Florida last Friday. The Lady Flames are now 11-18 all-time against current conference members.

William & Mary
Not only is the Liberty football team facing William & Mary on Saturday, but the schools' volleyball squads will go head-to-head that afternoon. The Tribe hails from Williamsburg, Va., and is coached by Debbie Hill. Hill, in her 30th year at William & Mary, is 555-397 overall.

The Tribe, 10-16 in 2006, brings back four starters, including junior setter Kim Mount, who ranked third in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in assists last season, and junior outside hitter Abbi Owens.

William & Mary is 3-5, after dropping three matches against tough competition at the UC Irvine Invite last weekend. Junior middle blocker Molly Bohman, who was named to the all-tournament team in California, leads the team with a .236 attack percentage and one block per game.

Liberty has won just two of nine all-time contests against William & Mary, but defeated the Tribe in four games at the William & Mary Invitational on Sept. 10, 2005. Tournament MVP Jessica Nelson led the Lady Flames with 17 kills and a career-high 24 digs. Bartolomeo, then playing setter, added 51 assists and 11 digs.

The Tribe will be the second CAA team and the second in-state opponent Liberty has played this season. The Lady Flames matched up with VCU on Sept. 1.

The Binghamton Bearcats, located in Vestal, N.Y., compete in the America East Conference. Glenn Kiriyama is 142-118 in his ninth season as the Bearcats' head coach.

Binghamton, the America East runner-up a season ago, had won four-straight matches overall and 14-consecutive tilts at West Gymnasium before losing to Syracuse on Tuesday. The Bearcats are 6-5 entering the Villanova Classic.

Freshman setter Lindsey Mueller, who has posted 369 assists on the season, was last week's America East Setter of the Week. Junior Ashley Allen has been on the end of 100 of those assists, while senior middle blocker Jacki Kane spearheads Binghamton's defense at the net, tallying 1.49 blocks per game.
Liberty was victorious in its only previous meeting with Binghamton, 3-1, at the 2005 William & Mary Invitational. Nelson (16 kills, 17 digs, three aces) and Bartolomeo (52 assists, 16 digs) starred in that contest as well.

The Lady Flames are 9-17 all-time against the current membership of the America East Conference.