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Liberty Netters to Meet No. 19 Kansas State
KSU Powercat Passport (Video streaming service) information
The Liberty volleyball team remains undefeated at 7-0, after taking all three of its matches at George Mason's Patriot Invitational and defeating in-state rival James Madison for the first time since 2003. The Lady Flames will now face their toughest challenge of the young season this weekend, when they travel to Manhattan, Kan., for the Varney's Kansas State Invitational.
Liberty's weekend opponents include a pair of 2007 NCAA Tournament participants, Northern Iowa and Kansas State. The Lady Flames are scheduled to face both teams, including the No. 19 Kansas State squad, on Saturday.
Varney's Kansas State Invitational (All times listed are Eastern)
Manhattan, Kan. (Ahearn Field House)
Friday, Sept. 12
6 p.m. – Cornell (2008 season debut) vs. Liberty (7-0, 0-0 Big South)
8 p.m. – Northern Iowa (6-0, 0-0 MVC) at No. 19 Kansas State (7-1, 0-0 Big 12)
Saturday, Sept. 13
11 a.m. – Northern Iowa vs. Liberty
1 p.m. – Cornell at No. 19 Kansas State
6 p.m. – Cornell vs. Northern Iowa
8 p.m. – Liberty at No. 19 Kansas State
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for each of Liberty's three weekend matches at the Varney's Kansas State Invitational. The link may be found at the top of this release or on the Liberty volleyball schedule/results page.
Live streaming video will also be provided for Saturday evening's Liberty at Kansas State match, through KSU's Powercat Passport service. A link to information on this feature is found at the top of this release.
A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (66-68 in his fifth season), survived its busy stretch of four matches in five days, winning them all. The Lady Flames defeated Saint Francis (Pa.), host George Mason and Rutgers to finish as one of two unbeaten teams (also New Mexico) at the weekend Patriot Invitational. Liberty then halted James Madison's four-match winning streak in the teams' head-to-head series with a 3-1 victory in Harrisonburg on Tuesday.
The four triumphs have pushed Liberty's overall winning streak to seven consecutive matches to start the 2008 season, making the Lady Flames one of 24 remaining unbeaten volleyball teams in the nation. Liberty has also triumphed in seven straight road matches, dating back to 2007.
For the second weekend in a row, the same duo of Liberty attackers was named to the all-tournament team. Junior middle blocker Chelaine McCarty and sophomore outside hitter Nicki Scripko were each honored for their play at the Patriot Invitational. McCarty hit a team-best .551 on the weekend, while Scripko exploded for 18 kills, nine digs and three aces during the Lady Flames' 3-1 victory over Rutgers.
Last season, Liberty hit .232 for the year, setting a program Division I record. However, the record may not last long, as the Lady Flames are hitting .281 in 2008 and ranked No. 19 nationally in the statistical category entering the week.
The figure was significantly aided by Liberty's .483 attack percentage during its 3-0 sweep of Saint Francis (Pa.) on Sept. 5. The attacking efficiency set a school single-match record, eclipsing the .457 Liberty hit against The Citadel on Sept. 16, 2006.
Controlling the Commonwealth
Liberty is 2-0 versus in-state opposition this season, owning victories over George Mason and James Madison. The Lady Flames have three more Commonwealth clashes on the 2008 docket, including their Sept. 30 home opener against VCU and a Big South home-and-home series with Radford. Liberty is the only remaining undefeated NCAA Division I volleyball team in the Commonwealth.
Liberty is only 3-4 in the opening set of its matches this season. However, the Lady Flames have rebounded nicely in sets two through five. Liberty owns an 18-2 record in the final four sets of the match.
Flirting with .400
Junior Chelaine McCarty has been a consistent offensive threat for the Liberty attack this season, hitting .300 or higher in each of her last five matches. McCarty is hitting .396 for the season, ranking second in the Big South for attack percentage. If she can maintain her torrid early-season pace, McCarty would join some elite company in the Liberty annals. No Lady Flame has hit over .400 since Theresa Bream hit .441 in 1989.
Milestones in Sight
Junior Kallie Corbin has recorded 269 assists so far this season, pushing her career total to 2,968. She needs 32 more assists to reach the 3,000 plateau and is 287 assists away from passing Michelle Marsh for fifth place on Liberty's all-time list.
Around the Big South
Charleston Southern and High Point were two of the Big South's best teams last week. The Lady Buccaneers went 2-1 at the Gardner-Webb Runnin' Bulldog Classic and handed Navy its first loss of the year. Meanwhile, High Point won all four of its matches, including a trio at its home tournament. CSU was sparked by Big South Player of the Week Amanda Hill's play at outside hitter, while High Point libero Julie Hershkowitz repeated as Big South Libero of the Week.
Liberty is not the only Big South team currently preparing for a tough weekend tournament. Gardner-Webb (2-4) will head to Knoxville, Tenn., to meet No. 17 Illinois, Dayton and Tennessee at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic. Meanwhile, Winthrop will square off with some tough in-state opposition (Clemson, College of Charleston and South Carolina) at the Carolina Challenge.
Cornell – 0-0, 0-0 Ivy
The Cornell Big Red, an Ivy League team from Ithaca, N.Y., have picked a tough tournament to open their 2008 schedule, as they will face a trio of 2007 NCAA Tournament participants. Cornell is coached by Deitre Collins-Parker, who is 63-40 as she begins her fifth season with the Big Red and 152-76 in 12 years as a collegiate head coach.
Cornell, which went 9-16 in 2007, features a pair of talented defensive players. Junior libero Megan Mushovic was a first-team All-Ivy League pick a year ago, after setting a school record with 598 digs. Meanwhile, senior middle blocker Emily Borman earned second-team all-conference honors after posting a team-high 104 blocks.
Cornell won its lone meeting with Liberty, claiming a 15-12, 15-10, 15-5 sweep on Sept. 11, 1993 at the Syracuse Invitational. The Lady Flames fell despite 16 digs by Nikki Keznor, the program's career digs leader with 1,739.
Last season, the Lady Flames swept Ivy League titlist Princeton, 3-0, on Sept. 14 at the Villanova Classic. The Tigers then won 20 consecutive matches, before falling in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Northern Iowa – 6-0, 0-0 MVC
Bobbi Petersen has built a volleyball powerhouse at her alma mater in Cedar Falls, Iowa—Northern Iowa. The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) squad is 209-81 in her nine seasons at the helm and has enjoyed 10 straight 20-win seasons overall.
The Panthers have won consecutive MVC titles and have made two straight NCAA Tournament appearances. They are off to a fast start again this season. Entering Wednesday night's match at in-state foe Iowa State, Northern Iowa has only dropped one set in its first six matches. The lone blemish came in a Sept. 6 victory over defending ACC champion Clemson.
Northern Iowa has a pair of players ranked highly in the first edition of the NCAA national statistical rankings. Senior middle blocker Ashten Stelken has 66 kills and ranks No. 7 nationally with her .482 attack percentage. Meanwhile, sophomore libero Ellie Blankenship sits No. 2 in the nation, with 6.37 digs per set.
Liberty has never faced Northern Iowa in volleyball and is seeking its first-ever win versus a MVC opponent. The Lady Flames have lost all five previous matches against Missouri Valley foes, including a 3-1 setback to Evansville at the 2007 Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi.
No. 19 Kansas State – 7-1, 0-0 Big 12
Kansas State of the Big 12 Conference is located in Manhattan, Kan. The Wildcats are coached by Suzie Fritz, who sports a 154-72 record in her eighth season at KSU.
The Wildcats, ranked No. 19 in this week's CBS College Sports Network/AVCA Division I Coaches Top 25 poll, has faced a difficult early-season schedule. Kansas State owns victories over Duke, UC Irvine and Arizona State. Its only setback came at the hands of No. 15 Purdue, on the Boilermakers' home court.
Nataly Korobkova, a 6-3 outside hitter from Russia, was a third-team AVCA All-American in 2007. She is playing well once again in 2008, hitting .287 with 94 kills. She was voted MVP at last weekend's Nike Portland Invitational. Rita Liliom, a 6-0 outside hitter from Hungary, paces this year's team with 121 kills.
Liberty and Kansas State have never met in volleyball. The Lady Flames are 0-5 all-time versus Big 12 opposition. Liberty's most recent contest against a Big 12 team was a 3-0 setback at the hands of Texas at the 2004 Time Warner Cable Texas Invitational.