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Lady Flames Head to Raleigh for Invitational
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Liberty volleyball travels to Raleigh, N.C., where the Lady Flames (4-6) will compete in the Courtyard Midtown Invitational, hosted by N.C. State at Reynolds Coliseum. Liberty opens its participation with a 7 p.m. match Friday vs. N.C. State. The Lady Flames will face Towson Saturday at 11 a.m. before closing the invitational against The Citadel at 5:30 p.m.
The host Wolfpack (9-1) bring a nine-match winning streak into the invitational, their longest since 1987. Towson (10-3) recently had its eight-win skein snapped, while The Citadel is off to a 4-2 start to the campaign. Liberty meets former Big South member (1992-94) Towson for the first time as a non-conference opponent.
Liberty at a Glance
The Lady Flames won all three of their matches at the 2011 Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi, winning the title with a 3-0 sweep of CSU Bakersfield Saturday. The team hit .326 at its home invitational, compared to just .022 for opponents, as Liberty posted 2.56 blocks per set and served up 22 aces in nine sets.
Liberty has won nine sets in a row, and 10 out of its last 11, dating back to a third-set victory over North Carolina Sept. 3 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Courtyard Midtown Invitational
Raleigh, N.C. (Reynolds Coliseum)
Friday, Sept. 16
Towson vs. The Citadel, 4 p.m.
Liberty at N.C. State, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 17
Towson vs. Liberty, 11 a.m.
The Citadel at N.C. State, 1 p.m.
The Citadel vs. Liberty, 5:30 p.m.
Towson at N.C. State, 7:30 p.m.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Friday's match between Liberty and N.C. State will be available for viewing through a live video stream from N.C. State's GoPack All-Access at GoPack.com. Live stats for all matches can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com and on the tournament central page.
Happel Named Big South and ECAC Player of the Week
Sophomore outside hitter Lillie Happel was named Big South Choice Hotels Volleyball Player of the Week on Monday, followed by an ECAC player of the week nod Tuesday. She aided the Lady Flames to victory with an MVP performance at the Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi. Happel is the first Big South player to be named conference player of the week as a freshman and sophomore since Liberty's Kallie Corbin in 2006 and ‘07. She led all players with eight aces, and posted 4.11 kills per set during the weekend.
Happel has been named to the all-tournament team at all three invitationals so far this season. She was joined by Jade Craycraft on the all-tournament team at the Liberty Invitational presented by Pepsi.
Kelly Haseman continues to climb the all-time digs lists for both Liberty and the Big South. She entered the season fifth at Liberty, and recently passed Theresa Bream (1987-90) into second place on the Lady Flames' all-time digs list with 1,643 digs. She trails only Nikki Keznor (1994-97) on the program career list, as Keznor totaled 1,739 digs.
Haseman, the active leader in the conference, is 10th all-time in Big South history with her 1,643 digs. She is seven shy of overtaking ninth place and 32 from claiming eighth. After posting a program rally-scoring-record 653 digs in 2010, Haseman is the only Liberty player all-time with back-to-back 500-dig seasons.
Own the Net
Liberty stymied all attackers this past weekend, holding opponents to a .022 hitting percentage at the Liberty Invitational. The Lady Flames average a Big South-leading 2.44 blocks per set this season, led by middle blockers Kendle Rollins (1.09 bps) and Loren Thomas (1.06 bps). Last year, Liberty led the Big South with 2.06 blocks per set, with Rollins and Thomas both posting over 100 total blocks.
Hitting for Power, Average
The Lady Flames posted a season-best .429 hitting percentage Friday vs. Rider, the third-highest attack percentage for Liberty in the rally-scoring era. Liberty's rally-scoring record of .483 came Sept. 5, 2008 vs. Saint Francis (Pa.). The hosts led the Liberty Invitational with a .329 attack efficiency, paced by .382 from Kendle Rollins and .378 by Loren Thomas.
Acing the Test
Liberty served up 22 aces (2.44 aps) during the Liberty Invitational, raising its season aces average from 0.78 to 1.25 per set. Sophomore Lillie Happel posted eight aces in nine sets. Happel, the 2010 Big South leader in aces, had not recorded an ace in 2011 prior to Friday. Fellow sophomores Jade Craycraft and Becca Haraf each posted six aces at home, and Craycraft and Haraf now average 0.34 and 0.33 aces per set, respectively.
Liberty vs. N.C. State
N.C. State (9-1) enters the weekend riding a nine-match winning streak, the longest for the Wolfpack since 1987. The team has won two straight invitationals, with Brie Merriwether and Nicole Glass earning tournament MVP honors at those respective events.
Margaret Salata (3.36 kps) leads a balanced offensive attack, hitting .387 while also adding 1.07 blocks per set. Merriwether hits .361, averaging 2.41 kills and 0.93 blocks per set. Setter Megan Cyr leads the ACC with 11.29 assists per set. Libero Kelly Wood posts 3.84 digs on average. For the season, N.C. State out-attacks opponents, .285-.124.
Wolfpack head coach Bryan Bunn holds a 23-19 record at the N.C. State helm, and is 374-141 in a career that has also included stops at Texas Luthern and North Florida. Bunn and Coach Pinder have not faced, but Pinder's Lady Flames have met N.C. State twice.
N.C. State boasts a 5-2 all-time record against Liberty. However, the Lady Flames have won the last two meetings from the Wolfpack, winning 3-1 in Raleigh Oct. 19, 2004 and sweeping N.C. State 3-0 in the season opener Aug. 28, 2008.
Liberty vs. Towson
Towson is currently 10-3 on the season following a 1-2 showing at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Tigers took an eight-match winning streak to Texas. The team leads the CAA in kills (13.74 kps), assists (12.7 aps), and opponents' hitting percentage (.114).
Aubrey Kirven, a setter, was named CAA Co-Offensive Player of the Week Sept. 6, and averages a conference-leading 11.23 assists per set. 2010 CAA All-Freshman team member Katy Buck leads the way with 4.14 kills per set, while Susan Gansor posts 1.21 blocks per set. Freshman DS Paige Sekerak posts 4.54 digs on average.
Towson defeated Liberty, 3-0, Oct. 29, 1994 in the teams' most recent meeting. The Tigers went 4-2 against Liberty during their three years in the Big South (1992-94).
Second-year head coach Bruce Atkinson is 26-18 at Towson following three years (69-14) at Hawaii-Hilo.
Liberty vs. The Citadel
The Citadel has opened the season at 4-2 after a 3-1 loss at home against city rival Charleston Southern Tuesday. The Bulldogs play at N.C. A&T Thursday before heading to Raleigh.
Kaona Mercer leads The Citadel with 2.50 kills per set, followed by Cassie Uribe at 2.28. Emily Dalton and Alexa Dahlstrom have posted 12 and 11 aces, respectively, while Dahlstrom leads the way with 9.09 assists per set.
First-year head coach Amir Khaledi is no stranger to the Big South, having earned a program-record 157 wins at Charleston Southern from 1985-92. He then served as an assistant at CSU before assisting at The Citadel from 2006-10. Pinder and Khaledi's teams have met several times on the court, but this will be their first matchup as head coaches.
Liberty is 2-0 all-time against The Citadel, defeating the Bulldogs in three sets Sept. 16, 2006 at Army and taking a 3-0 match Sept. 8, 2007 at Wright State. This will be the third different state (N.Y., Ohio, N.C.) in which these teams have met.