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Lady Flames Head to WMU for Invitational

September 1, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Liberty senior libero Kelly Haseman returns to her home state this weekend, as the Lady Flames compete in the Holiday Inn West Invitational, hosted by Western Michigan.

Complete Match Notes

Live Stats for all matches

The Liberty Lady Flames will head to Kalamazoo, Mich., where the team will take on Seton Hall (1-1) of the BIG EAST, Western Michigan (3-0) and the ACC's North Carolina (1-1) in the Holiday Inn West Invitational Friday and Saturday. Western Michigan and North Carolina both posted 20 or more wins in 2010, while the Lady Flames were a 25-9 club one year ago.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans unable to attend this weekend's matches can follow the action through live stats. Live stats for all three matches can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com.

Western Michigan Invitational
The Holiday Inn West Invitational begins with Liberty taking on Seton Hall Friday at 4:30 p.m. The Lady Flames defeated SHU, 3-2, in the teams' only previous meeting, in 1998. Liberty will then face the host Broncos Saturday at noon, looking for their first victory over WMU in three attempts. The event concludes with Liberty playing against North Carolina, a team which the Lady Flames have not faced since 1990.

Liberty vs. No. 16 Oregon
Liberty took on No. 16 Oregon on Wednesday at American University's Bender Arena in Washington, D.C. The Ducks won in three sets (25-9, 25-21, 25-17), in the Lady Flames' 11th match all-time against a nationally-ranked opponent. Liberty's Lillie Happel posted a match-high 10 kills, while Loren Thomas sent down a match-best five blocks and Kelly Haseman tied for the lead with 11 digs.

Going Home
This weekend's tournament in Kalamazoo will be a homecoming of sorts for senior libero Kelly Haseman, a Three Rivers, Mich. native and 2008 graduate of Kalamazoo Christian High School. These will be Haseman's first collegiate matches to take place in the state of Michigan, as she helps lead the Lady Flames against a tough field and remains in pursuit of the program digs record. She is currently fifth on Liberty's career digs list at 1,559, nine digs from surpassing Lara Bartolomeo's total of 1,567 for fourth place.

Back Together
Liberty started two freshmen during the season opener Aug. 26 vs. Georgia. Outside hitter Ansley Gebben and libero Gabrielle Shipe, both from The First Academy, started alongside fellow TFA graduate, junior Loren Thomas during the opening match. Shipe led the team with eight digs and two aces, while fellow freshman Melissa Racz posted six block assists as Liberty's primary right-side hitter. Four freshmen (Jade Craycraft, Lillie Happel, Erica Manor and Kendle Rollins) started the season-opening contest in 2010.

Block Party
Liberty University held its annual kick-off event, the Block Party, on campus Saturday. The Lady Flames volleyball team held its own block party on the weekend, averaging 2.5 blocks per set, including 10.5 against Georgia. Loren Thomas (1.22 blocks per set), Melissa Racz (1.22 bps) and Kendle Rollins (1.11 bps) all topped one block per set, helping Liberty begin defense of its Big South No. 1 blocking ranking from 2010.
On Wednesday vs. No. 16 Oregon, the Lady Flames posted seven team blocks, to just two for the Ducks. Liberty totaled five blocks during the second set, holding Oregon to a .100 set-two attack percentage. For the match, Thomas recorded five blocks.

Spreading the Wealth
Last season, libero Kelly Haseman led the Lady Flames in digs during each of the team's 34 matches, on the way to a Liberty rally-scoring-record 653 digs. Liberty had different dig leaders in all three matches at the Bulldog Invitational to open the 2011 campaign. Gabrielle Shipe led with eight digs against Georgia, Lillie Happel paced the team with nine digs versus Kansas, and Haseman collected a match-high 14 digs against Florida A&M.

Return to Michigan
The Lady Flames will play in their first matches in the state of Michigan under eighth-year head coach Shane Pinder. The last time Liberty played in Michigan was Sept. 16, 2000, competing in the Ameritech Invitational at Western Michigan, against WMU, Ohio State and UConn. Coach Pinder was an assistant coach at Liberty that weekend. Current Liberty senior Kelly Haseman was in fifth grade in the Kalamazoo area, regularly attending WMU matches; and current assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden was a senior in high school in Leander, Texas, just prior to her standout four-year career at Liberty.

Liberty vs. Seton Hall
Seton Hall began the 2011 campaign with a two-match stint at the Colgate Invitational, defeating Colgate and falling to Buffalo.

Six starters return from last year's team, headlined by senior right-side hitter and 2010 second team All-BIG EAST member Meghan Matusiak, who already has eclipsed 1,000 career kills. Shelby Manthorpe leads the team with 2.0 blocks per set, helping Seton Hall hold opponents to a .124 attack percentage. 

Liberty won its only meeting against Seton Hall, a 3-2 triumph at Rutgers Sept. 26, 1998. The Lady Flames improved to 6-7 at that point on the way to a 21-14 record in ‘98, the third of a program-record four 20-win seasons in a row.

Seton Hall's Kris Zeiter is in his sixth year leading the Pirates. Entering this season, Zeiter held a 71-78 record at SHU and 114-128 overall record in eight years.

Liberty is 9-16 all-time against members of the BIG EAST, as it is currently comprised. Shane Pinder's teams are 2-5 vs. BIG EAST competition.

Liberty vs. Western Michigan
Western Michigan posted its sixth straight 20-win season with a 22-10 record in 2010, winning the Mid-American Conference's Western Division. WMU opened the season by claiming all three matches at the Cavalier Classic at Virginia. Two-time all-conference selection middle blocker Jessica Brown leads the way for the Broncos with 4.0 kills per set, hitting .400. Libero Lena Oliver was named tournament MVP for her 7.5 digs per set.

Colleen Munson enters her seventh season at WMU, where she is 139-64. Munson and Shane Pinder's teams have faced once, a 3-1 Broncos win Sept. 20, 2008 at Notre Dame. Munson is 1-1 all-time against Liberty, as the Lady Flames downed Munson's East Carolina squad, 3-1, Sept. 13, 2003 in Lynchburg.

The Lady Flames are 1-9 all-time against opponents from the Mid-American Conference. Pinder has coached Liberty to one win in five matches against MAC competition, a 3-2 win over Central Michigan Aug. 30, 2008 in a season-opening tournament at VCU.

Liberty vs. North Carolina
North Carolina entered the season listed among other teams receiving votes in the AVCA national coaches poll. The Tar Heels, coming off of a 25-10 record and NCAA Tournament second-round appearance in 2010, opened the campaign by defeating Auburn and falling to Florida. UNC is led by returning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Kaylie Gibson and first-team all-conference outside hitter Emily McGee. McGee was named to the all-tournament team following the opening-weekend event.

The Tar Heels hold a 3-0 all-time record over Liberty, with the last meeting being a 3-0 victory Sept. 5, 1990. That matchup was the first match at UNC for 22nd-year head coach Joe Sagula. Sagula has garnered over 400 wins for North Carolina and 600+ overall.

The Lady Flames have won 11 out of 80 meetings against ACC opponents. Liberty posted a 2-0 record against ACC teams N.C. State and Maryland during the first weekend of the 2008 season. Coach Shane Pinder has gone 3-8 vs. teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a perfect 2-0 mark vs. the N.C. State Wolfpack.