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Lady Flames Set to Face James Madison Tuesday

September 19, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Freshmen Melissa Racz and Ansley Gebben have played key roles for the Lady Flames in the early going. Liberty will play at James Madison Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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The Liberty volleyball team plays at Commonwealth rival James Madison Tuesday in its final tuneup before Big South play opens Friday at Radford.

The Lady Flames (5-8) and Dukes (8-4) both posted 1-2 records at their respective invitationals this past weekend. Liberty defeated The Citadel in Raleigh, while JMU downed East Tennessee State for its eighth straight win before losing its last two matches at the JMU Classic.

Liberty at a Glance
Despite facing a challenging early schedule, Liberty has been a dominant team at the net. The Lady Flames lead the Big South with 2.39 blocks per set while also posting a league-best .202 hitting percentage. Kendle Rollins paces the team with 1.1 blocks per set and a .330 attack percentage.

Liberty has been surging from the service line of late, averaging two aces per set over the last six matches. Lillie Happel has totaled 16 aces during those same six contests.

The Lady Flames have won each of their last two meetings against James Madison, including a 3-1 victory Sept. 14, 2010 in the Vines Center.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Tuesday's match between Liberty and James Madison will be available for viewing for a charge through a live video stream. Live stats can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com.

Record Falls in Raleigh
The Lady Flames posted a 3-0 win over The Citadel on Saturday to close their time at the Courtyard Midtown Invitational. Liberty hit a program-record .484 against The Citadel, while Kendle Rollins attacked at a .727 pace with a career-high 17 kills. The team fell in straight sets against N.C. State before dropping a 3-1 decision to Towson.

Rollins was named to the all-tournament team, hitting .483 while sending down 3.3 kills per set in addition to 1.1 blocks per set. The honor was the first all-tournament award for Rollins while at Liberty.

Scouting James Madison
James Madison brings an 8-4 record into Tuesday's match. The Dukes won eight matches in a row before dropping their most recent two contests. JMU was predicted to finish second in the CAA, with three all-conference players returning from 2010's 22-8 squad. The team has recorded 2.41 blocks per set, holding opponents to a .179 attack percentage.

Outside hitter Natalie Abel has been named CAA Offensive Player of the Week twice so far this season. Abel leads the Dukes with 3.11 kills per set, while also averaging 3.31 digs per set. Kelly Maguire tallies 1.22 blocks on average, and Katie Daorai totals 3.72 digs per contest. Danielle Erb checks in with 13 aces on the season.

Coaching Matchup
Dukes head coach Lauren Steinbrecher, is in her second season leading JMU and has posted a 30-12 overall record, including 22-8 last season. Liberty head coach Shane Pinder has posted a 134-108 record and is in his eighth season, having led the Lady Flames to two Big South tournament championships, four straight 20-win seasons and Big South regular-season titles. Pinder's Liberty team downed Steinbrecher's Dukes, 3-1 Sept. 14, 2010 in these coaches' only meeting.

Series History
James Madison holds a 19-10 all-time advantage over the Lady Flames in volleyball. Liberty has won each of the most recent two meetings, a 3-1 win Sept. 9, 2008 in Harrisonburg and a four-set victory Sept. 14, 2010 at the Vines Center. The Dukes won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, 2-0, in 1980.

The Lady Flames have gone 2-4 against James Madison under eighth-year head coach Shane Pinder.

Last Meeting - Liberty vs. James Madison
Liberty won last year's meeting with the Dukes, the Lady Flames' home opener, on the strength of 75 digs, while holding JMU to a .088 attack percentage. Loren Thomas led Liberty with five blocks, while Kelly Haseman added 30 digs. Liberty won the first two sets before JMU responded with a 25-13 win during the third set. The home team closed out the match with a 25-18 set-four win. The Sept. 14, 2010 victory over JMU moved Pinder into second place all-time at Liberty with 111 career wins.

Commonwealth of Success
Liberty travels to two in-state opponents this week, playing at James Madison Tuesday before facing Radford Friday in the conference opener. The Lady Flames have won their last 11 games inside the Commonwealth of Virginia, including 10 straight home victories and a Nov. 9, 2010 sweep at Radford. This week's matches serve as Liberty's only two Virginia road matches on the regular-season schedule.

Liberty won its most recent match at James Madison, in 2008, and has won nine straight matches over Radford in RU's Dedmon Center.

Rollins Effficient at Net
Redshirt sophomore Kendle Rollins capped a strong week at the net with a career-high 17 kills Saturday versus The Citadel. In the process, she posted a .727 attack percentage, making just one error in 22 attempts against the Bulldogs. Her attack percentage in Saturday's match is the second best at Liberty in the rally-scoring era to Ashley Webber's .875 (14-for-16) Oct. 17, 2008 at Winthrop.

Rollins currently leads the team with a .330 attack percentage and 1.1 blocks per set on the season. Last year, she hit .299 while pacing Liberty with 120 total blocks.

Digging Away
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 1,684 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 eighth all-time in Big South history with her 1,684 digs. She is 43 digs from passing Audie Gonzalez of High Point into seventh all-time. 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.

Double-Doubles Abound in Raleigh
Liberty's Lillie Happel posted her second double-double of the season, and ninth of her career, Saturday vs. Towson with 13 kills and 10 digs. She totaled 17 kills and 13 digs Sept. 3 vs. North Carolina.

Courtney Boggs recorded 33 assists and 11 digs Saturday against The Citadel, the seventh double-double in her career and first since Nov. 27, 2009 versus Delaware.

Climbing the Charts
Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas, Liberty's active leader in kills, posted her 500th career kill Friday at N.C. State. Additionally, she is just four blocks away from entering the top 10 all-time at Liberty in career blocks. She has totaled 240 blocks, while Kallie Corbin (2006-09) holds 10th place with 244. Thomas recorded a career-high-tying three solo blocks Friday at N.C. State.

Rare Air
Liberty has hit .400 or better in two matches this season, including .429 vs. Rider Sept. 9 and a program-record .484 Saturday against The Citadel. Liberty's hitting percentage Saturday vs. The Citadel was the highest for any Big South team since 2009.

Since 2001, the Lady Flames have posted seven matches with a .400+ hitting percentage, all occuring in the last five seasons. Prior to this year, 2008 marked the most recent time Liberty had hit .400 or higher in two matches.