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2008 Lady Flames to Face Challenging Schedule
The Liberty volleyball team, coming off its fourth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance, will meet a pair of 2007 NCAA Tournament qualifiers as part of a challenging 2008 schedule. The defending Big South Champions will play eight home matches at the Vines Center this coming season, beginning with the home opener versus new conference member Gardner-Webb Oct. 3.
The team's first 15 contests of the year, including four weekend tournaments, will be played away from Lynchburg. Included in the stretch are tournaments at both Kansas State and Notre Dame. At Kansas State, head coach Shane Pinder's Lady Flames will face two NCAA Tournament teams, Northern Iowa and the host Wildcats, on the same day, Sept. 13.
The Lady Flames will open the year in a familiar location, as they return to Richmond, Va., for their second straight appearance in the VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational, Aug. 29-30. Liberty played a pair of tournaments at VCU's Alltel Pavilion during the 2007 campaign, and the Lady Flames also participated in the Rams' spring invitational.
Liberty will square off against a pair of ACC foes during the season-opening tournament, beginning with the lid-lifter versus N.C. State on Aug. 29. The following afternoon, the Lady Flames will attempt to avenge their two setbacks at last year's event, matching up against the host VCU team and Maryland.
The Lady Flames will remain within the Commonwealth for their second tournament, traveling to George Mason for the Sept. 5-6 Patriot Invitational. Liberty's weekend foes include St. Francis (Pa.), George Mason and Rutgers, the first of two Big East opponents on the 2008 slate.
After a midweek match at James Madison, Liberty will depart for the first of two straight difficult tournaments, at Kansas State's Ahearn Fieldhouse, Sept. 12-13. Included among the Lady Flames' weekend foes are 2007 Missouri Valley Conference champion Northern Iowa and Kansas State, which made the second round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament and finished the season ranked No. 16 nationally.
The following weekend, the Lady Flames' destination will be South Bend, Ind., as Liberty competes in Notre Dame's Golden Dome Invitational on Sept. 19-21. The opening evening will feature Liberty's first match against the homestanding Fighting Irish since the 1997 NCAA Tournament. The Lady Flames will square off against 2007 MAC West champion Western Michigan on Sept. 20. The three-day tournament will then come to a close Sept. 21, when Liberty tangles with Big West squad UC Irvine, which went 21-11 a season ago.
Liberty will close out September by opening its 14-match Big South conference schedule with a trip to Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina, Sept. 26-27.
Seven of the Lady Flames' eight home matches will be played during the month of October, a stretch which begins Oct. 3 against new conference member Gardner-Webb. The Bulldogs are coached by former Liberty head coach Chris Phillips.
The month will also feature a pair of homestands. The first run, consisting of three consecutive home matches, includes future Big South member Presbyterian on Oct. 10, UNC Asheville on Oct. 11 and High Point on Oct. 14. Liberty will then wrap up October with conference matches against Radford on Oct. 21, Coastal Carolina on Oct. 24 and Charleston Southern on Oct. 25. The latter two contests will be part of the volleyball team's Parents' Weekend and the university's Homecoming Weekend.
Not to be overlooked during October is a trip to Winthrop on Oct. 17. Liberty's lone loss to a Big South team in 2007 came at the Winthrop Coliseum, at the hands of the conference runner-up Eagles. The Lady Flames' other road tilt during October will be an Oct. 7 contest at Radford.
Liberty will play a quartet of road matches during the first 11 days of November, including jaunts to Gardner-Webb (Nov. 1), UNC Asheville (Nov. 7), Presbyterian (Nov. 8) and High Point (Nov. 11).
The 2008 regular season will come to a close Nov. 15 at the Vines Center, when Winthrop visits for a match which may help determine the Big South regular-season champion. The contest will serve as the Lady Flames' Senior Night.
The 2008 Big South Volleyball Championship will be hosted by UNC Asheville, at the Justice Center. All eight conference teams will battle for the conference title and an automatic NCAA Tournament bid, Nov. 20-22.
The NCAA Tournament is slated to begin the weekend of Dec. 4-7, with first and second round matches.