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Liberty Netters Ready for James Madison, Conference Opener at Radford

September 17, 2007
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Chelaine McCarty (left) and Alysson Sanders go up to block a Villanova attack last Friday. (Photo by Aaron Hamrick)

Chelaine McCarty (left) and Alysson Sanders go up to block a Villanova attack last Friday. (Photo by Aaron Hamrick)

Coming off its most successful weekend tournament of the young season, a 3-1 showing at the Villanova Classic, the 8-5 Liberty volleyball team will return home for a Tuesday evening match against James Madison, before kicking off its Big South Conference schedule Saturday at Radford.

This Week's Schedule
Tuesday, Sept. 18
James Madison (6-5) at Liberty (8-5) – 7 p.m. – Vines Center

Saturday, Sept. 22
Liberty at Radford (4-10) – 2 p.m. – Dedmon Center

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats, live streaming video and live television coverage will be available for those fans unable to attend Tuesday's match versus James Madison. Live stats, which will be provided for all volleyball matches at the Vines Center this year, are accessible by clicking here or by clicking "Live Stats" on the volleyball schedule/results page of LibertyFlames.com.

Tuesday's match will be televised on the Liberty Channel, and the television feed will be video streamed live over the Internet, via the Big South EDGE. For more information on the EDGE, click here or click "Live Video" on the volleyball schedule/results page of LibertyFlames.com. The cost of EDGE video streaming is $4.95 per match, and there are seasonal and yearly packages available as well.

On Saturday, Radford will be providing live statistical coverage of the match between the Lady Flames and Highlanders. A "Live Stats" link will be available on LibertyFlames.com's volleyball schedule/results page, as the match approaches.

A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (40-64 in his fourth season), has won five of its last six matches, including a 3-1 weekend at the Villanova Classic. The Lady Flames, off to their best start since 1996, finished second to the host Wildcats in the two-day, five-team event, last Friday and Saturday.

Sophomore setter Kallie Corbin made the all-tournament team at Villanova, marking the fourth-straight weekend she has garnered all-tournament laurels. Her weekend included a triple-double, her first of the season, in Liberty's 3-1 win over Binghamton, Saturday evening. Corbin posted season-high totals in kills (10) and digs (25), while adding 44 assists versus the Bearcats.

Corbin was also named the Big South Choice Hotels Player of the Week on Monday, for the first time this season and the second time in her Liberty career.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Jessica Nelson joined Corbin on the all-tournament team. Nelson, who has returned to top form after missing the entire 2006 season with a leg injury, stuffed the stat sheet during Liberty's 3-2, come-from-behind win over William & Mary, Saturday afternoon. No Lady Flame had recorded a 20-kill match since the 2005 campaign, but Nelson finished with 20 kills against the Tribe and also racked up a career-high 33 digs.

Nelson's fellow redshirt junior outside hitter, Alysson Sanders, also finished with exactly 20 kills versus William & Mary, setting a new career high. Sanders, the elder of a set of sisters on the Liberty roster, was hampered by a preseason injury early in the season. Now back at full strength, Sanders has entered the starting line-up and ranks second (to Nelson) on the team with 2.80 kills per game.

Sophomore middle blocker Chelaine McCarty played one of her best games as a Lady Flame Friday evening against Villanova. She totaled 10 blocks (one solo, nine assists), the most blocks by a Liberty player since Erin McKeown had 11 on Nov. 11, 2003.

Record Setters
McCarty's 10 blocks against Villanova were part of an 18-block evening by the Lady Flames as a team. The total matched a school record under the rally-scoring format, which was instituted in 2001. Liberty also came up with 18 blocks on Nov. 7, 2006, in a home match versus East Tennessee State. Interestingly, the Lady Flames have lost both of their 18-block matches since 2001.

2 x 20
Nelson and Sanders became the first Liberty duo to record 20 kills in a match since Nelson and Kendall Nichols both did on Oct. 14, 2005, against UNC Asheville. Nelson now has five career 20-kill matches, with a high of 22 against Charleston Southern on Oct. 7, 2005. For Sanders, it was the first time she has eclipsed the 20-kill plateau. No other current Lady Flame has a 20-kill match to her credit.

Number 100 for Number 4
Senior libero/defensive specialist Lara Bartolomeo will play her 100th career match, Tuesday evening against James Madison. She leads the Lady Flames with 209 digs this season, and has contributed 10 or more digs in 12-consecutive matches. For her career, Bartolomeo has totaled 1,281 digs and is nearing Liberty's career top five list. Anthonia Akpama currently stands at No. 5 on Liberty's all-time list with 1,312 digs.

Bacon's Back
Freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Karyl Bacon returned to the Liberty line-up at the Villanova Classic, after missing the previous weekend's Wright State Raider Challenge due to injury. Bacon, limited to back-row duty at Villanova, played all four matches and notched 16 digs versus William & Mary.

Opening with a Bang
Liberty has gotten off to a good start in Big South Conference play in recent years. The Lady Flames are 8-1 in their last nine Big South Conference openers. A year ago, Liberty swept Radford, 3-0, to open the conference schedule. The Lady Flames went on to finish 9-5 in conference action and claimed the No. 3 seed in the Big South Championship.

Best in the Big South
Liberty leads the Big South Conference in four team statistical categories, entering the week. The Lady Flames top the conference in kills (14.65 kpg), digs (19.02 dpg), blocks (2.21 bpg) and opponent hitting percentage (.159).

Individually, Corbin ranks in the top five of three conference statistical categories. She is third in assists (10.81 apg), fifth in aces (0.40 apg) and fifth in attack percentage (.253).

Liberty's starting middle blockers both appear among the Big South leaders as well. Junior Ashley Webber sits third in blocks (0.94 bpg), while McCarty is fourth in attack percentage (.263).

Scouting Reports
James Madison
The James Madison Dukes, located in Harrisonburg, Va., compete in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and are coached by Disa Garner. Garner is 122-84 in her eighth year at JMU and is 176-221 in 14 total years as a collegiate head coach.

The Dukes, coming off a 19-9 season and returning all but one starter, were picked to finish second behind Hofstra in the CAA preseason poll. JMU has opened its year with a 6-5 record, including a 2-1 performance at its own JMU/Days Inn Invitational this past weekend.

James Madison has played a pair of Big South squads this season and has defeated both in three games. The Dukes swept High Point on Sept. 1 at the Davidson Mizuno Wildcat Classic, and took a 3-0 decision from Charleston Southern last Friday.

Allyson Halls, a 6-4 senior middle blocker, and Michelle Johnson, a 5-9 junior middle blocker, both made the all-tournament team this past weekend. Like Corbin, Halls has now been named to a quartet of all-tournament teams during the 2007 season.

Halls, the 2007 CAA Preseason Player of the Year, leads the Dukes in a number of statistical categories. She tops the team in kills (143), attack percentage (.319), aces (15) and blocks (42). Halls was named the CAA Player of the Week on Sept. 10.

Freshman Lindsay Callahan has immediately stepped in as a prominent part of the Dukes' offense. The outside hitter, one of only two Virginia natives on the team, ranks second on the JMU roster with 118 kills.

Senior libero Jena Pierson won the 2006 CAA Defensive Player of the Year award and was named one of the top five liberos in the country by CVU. She has accumulated a team-high 186 digs for the Dukes so far this season.

James Madison leads the all-time head-to-head series with Liberty, 18-8. The Dukes have won three-straight meetings with the Lady Flames and six of the last seven.

JMU claimed a 3-1 triumph over Liberty in the teams' most recent matchup, on Sept. 19, 2006 in Harrisonburg. Alysson Sanders paced the Lady Flames with 17 kills, while Kallie Corbin totaled 48 assists and 25 digs. For the Dukes, Halls led the way with 21 kills, a .378 attack percentage and 10 blocks (one solo, nine assists).

Liberty is 1-1 against CAA opponents so far this season. The Lady Flames lost, 3-1, at VCU on Sept. 1 and edged William & Mary, 3-2, last Saturday.

The Radford Highlanders, from Radford, Va., are coached by Crystal Poskey. She owns a record of 13-29 in her second season with the Highlanders.

Five starters from the Highlanders' 2006 team, which went 9-19, are back. The returnees include senior setter Josie Hanners, a second-team All-Big South selection a season ago.

Radford, 4-10 on the season, is coming off its best weekend thus far. The Highlanders won two out of three matches at the Bucknell Invitational, defeating host Bucknell and St. Francis (Pa.), while dropping a contest versus Stony Brook. Hanners and 6-2 freshman middle blocker Jessica Sullivan were both named to the all-tournament team.

On the year, Hanners leads the Highlanders with 329 assists, and Sullivan owns a team-best .371 attack percentage. Lindsey Poole, a preseason All-Big South selection, paces the team with 125 kills.
Liberty has played Radford more often than any other opponent in program history. Saturday's match-up will be the 54th tilt between the Lady Flames and Highlanders. Liberty is 28-25 all-time against its in-state conference rival.

The Lady Flames have won 11-straight matches against Radford, since a 3-2 Highlander victory at the Vines Center on Nov. 6, 2001. Liberty gained a measure of revenge 11 days later, sweeping Radford in the Big South Championship title match at the Vines Center to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament.