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Liberty Volleyball to Meet No. 10 California in Opening Round of NCAA Tournament
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The Liberty volleyball team will make its first NCAA Division I Tournament appearance since 2001, with a matchup against No. 10 California, Friday at Cameron Indoor Stadium on the campus of Duke University in Durham, N.C. The Big South champion Lady Flames will be meeting the Golden Bears, seeded No. 10 nationally, for the first time in program history. Match time is set for 5 p.m.
Friday's opening-round at Cameron Indoor Stadium will also feature Duke and Patriot League champion American. Friday's two winners will meet Saturday at 5 p.m., with the victor advancing to the Madison Regional tournament bracket.
Liberty earned its postseason berth by capturing the Big South Championship title with a 3-0 sweep of Winthrop, Nov. 17 at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames have won 17 of their last 18 matches. The run includes a school-record 16 consecutive victories. Liberty will enter the NCAA Tournament with a 27-8 mark on the season. Flames Head Coach Shane Pinder's squad's 27 victories are the most ever by a Liberty team as a NCAA Division I program.
California, which entered the final week ranked No. 7, is 22-7 overall, finishing in fourth place in the Pac-10, a conference which includes No. 1 seed Stanford. The Golden Bears are making their sixth-straight NCAA appearance. Coach Rich Feller, in his 10th season with the Golden Bears, has seen his team sweep 17 opponents this season. Senior outside hitter Angie Pressey leads the way for California with 4.37 kills per game, while freshman setter Carli Lloyd is averaging 12.61 assists per game.
Liberty has earned a good deal of hardware as well this season, as Pinder was tabbed Big South Coach of the Year and right-side hitter Nicki Scripko became the Lady Flames' second-straight Big South Freshman of the Year. Last year's Big South Freshman of the Year, setter Kallie Corbin, joined Scripko on the first-team All-Big South roster.
The Lady Flames will play in the NCAA Division I Tournament for the fourth time. Liberty also qualified for the tournament in 1997, 1999 and 2001. The Lady Flames met Notre Dame in their first tournament appearance, faced Florida in 1999 and squared off with USC in 2001. Liberty was eliminated with a 3-0 setback on each occasion. Assistant coaches Jennifer (Belk) Vaden and Becky Rudnick were freshmen on the 2001 Liberty team.
NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament
First and Second-Round Matches at Duke University
Friday, Nov. 30 (First Round)
5 p.m. - California (22-7) vs. Liberty (27-8)
7 p.m. - Duke (24-6) vs. American (26-7)
Saturday, Dec. 1 (Second Round)
5 p.m. - Winner of California/Liberty vs. Winner of Duke/American
(Winner advances to Madison, Wis. Regional)
Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder Quotes
"California is a great program. It was nice for us not to see one of the high seeds (Nebraska, Penn State or Stanford) in our opening game. I thought that it was a decent seed coming out of the Big South Conference. California runs a fast West Coast offense, similar to what we try to run. This being the first time in the tournament as a head coach, it's a great chance for me to guage the program. We will go into the match like every other, expecting to win. It is exciting to be playing only a couple hours away from home. Hopefully, we will get some fans and have a good showing."
Watching the selection show
Multiple TVs were turned to the selection show
WSET-ABC films the team as they find out they will face No. 10 California
Head coach Shane Pinder speaks with WSET-ABC
Senior Lara Bartolomeo speaks with WSET-ABC
R-Junior Jessica Nelson finishes up an interview with WSET-ABC