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Lady Flames to Compete at High Point, Campbell
The Liberty volleyball team, coming off of a 2-0 week, returns to the road, where the Lady Flames (8-9, 3-0 Big South) will take on High Point (3-14, 1-2) Friday at 7 p.m. before a 5 p.m. match Saturday at Campbell (9-10, 2-1).
Friday's match features the two teams that competed in the 2010 Big South Championship final, as High Point defeated Liberty Nov. 19 for its first Big South tournament championship. Saturday will see the renewal of Liberty's all-time series with returning conference member Campbell.
Liberty at a Glance
Liberty has opened the conference season at 3-0 and is tied with Winthrop for the Big South lead. The Lady Flames swept Asheville, 3-0, Friday night, before claiming a 3-2 win over Gardner-Webb Saturday.
Loren Thomas registered five blocks Friday, moving her into ninth place all-time at Liberty, as she currently has 269 career blocks.
Lillie Happel registered her 500th career kill while totaling 22 kills in a 3-2 win over Gardner-Webb Saturday. Freshman Ansley Gebben posted a career-high 16 kills Saturday to aid Liberty's victory.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Friday night's match at High Point will be available for viewing on the Big South Network. Both of this week's matches will have live stats provided, which can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com.
Happel Big South Player of the Week; Thomas Repeats as Top Defensive Player
Liberty claimed two out of three Big South awards Monday. Sophomore Lillie Happel was named Big South Volleyball Player of the Week for the second time this season, and junior middle blocker Loren Thomas repeated as Big South Defensive Player of the Week. Happel, the conference leader in kills, posted two double-doubles, including 22 kills (.428) and 13 digs in Saturday's win over Gardner-Webb. Thomas has claimed the Big South lead in blocks, and registered 12 blocks (1.5 blocks per set) during Liberty's 2-0 weekend.
Two Options on the Outside
Freshman outside hitter Ansley Gebben earned a career-high 16 kills and four block assists in Liberty's 3-2 win over Gardner-Webb Saturday. Lillie Happel earned a match-high 22 kills and 13 digs against the Runnin' Bulldogs, giving the Lady Flames two players with 15+ kills in the same match for the first time this season.
Saturday was the first time that two Liberty players posted 15 or more kills in the same match since Happel and Karyl Bacon had 15 and 19 kills, respectively, Sept. 28, 2010 in a 3-0 win over High Point.
Happel Records Double-Double (x4)
Lillie Happel has registered a double-double in each of the last four matches, giving her six double-doubles for the season and 13 for her career. Her current double-double streak is the longest by a Lady Flame since Karyl Bacon recorded double-doubles in four straight matches during 2009.
Saturday vs. Gardner-Webb, Happel recorded the first 20-kill double-double of her career, with 22 kills and 13 digs.
Thomas Blocks the Big South
Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas leads the Big South in blocks per set at 1.22, and has posted 1.85 blocks on average during league play. She posted a program rally-scoring-record 12 blocks during Liberty's 3-2 win over Radford Sept. 23.
Thomas has now totaled 269 blocks, ranking her ninth all-time at Liberty. She is 15 blocks shy of tying former teammate Chelaine McCarty (2007-09) for eighth place in program history.
Seven different Liberty players have at least one 10-dig match to their credit over the past four matches. Lillie Happel has registered double-digit digs totals in each of the last four contests, while freshman Gabrielle Shipe has collected 10 or more digs during three matches in a row.
Kelly Haseman, Jade Craycraft, Courtney Cooper, Becca Haraf and Ansley Gebben also have tallied at least one 10-dig contest in the most recent four-match span.
Shipe is the first Liberty freshman to post three straight 10-dig matches since Haseman recorded double-digit digs in seven straight matches late in the 2008 season.
At The Top
Liberty ranks first in the Big South and is 34th in the nation with a 2.54 blocks per set average. Loren Thomas leads the conference with 1.22 blocks per set. Lillie Happel tops the Big South with a 3.75 kills average. Last season, Liberty led the Big South in attack percentage (.229), assists (12.13), kills (13.21), blocks (2.06) and service aces (1.71).
Unbeaten in Five
The Lady Flames defeated Gardner-Webb by a 3-2 score Saturday, Liberty's second five-set win of the season. The team also downed Radford, 3-2, in the Big South opener Sept. 23. Liberty has won each of its last 10 five-set matches against Big South opponents, spanning the 2009 season through the present. Each of Liberty's past two conference semifinal matches has seen the Lady Flames prevail in five sets.
3-0, 3-0, 3-0, 3-0
With wins in each of its first three conference matches, Liberty has started the Big South season at 3-0 for the fourth season in a row. Liberty's longest undefeated streak to open Big South play is six matches, as the Lady Flames began conference play 6-0 in 2003 and again in 2008. The Lady Flames won 13 conference matches in 2003 and 2008.
Liberty played before a season-high 1,260 fans Friday against UNC Asheville in the Vines Center. Liberty holds the Big South record for attendance at 1,622, a Senior Night crowd Nov. 10, 2007 against Radford. The Lady Flames have drawn 1,000 or more fans to the Vines Center on five occasions in the past five seasons, including twice in 2007.
Liberty vs. High Point
High Point brings a 3-14 overall record, including 1-2 in Big South play, into the weekend. The Panthers swept Charleston Southern, 3-0, on Sept. 30 for their first Big South win of the campaign. Freshman Chelsea Davis posted 12 kills at a .500 pace against the Buccaneers. Traditionally a strong defensive team, HPU ranks third in the conference with 14.88 digs per set.
Senior libero Breanna Holliday paces High Point with 4.73 digs per set, a mark good for second in the Big South. Holliday was named Big South Defensive Player of the Week Sept. 5. Junior Courtney Johnk leads HPU with 2.91 kills and 0.29 aces per set. Lauren Bell leads the Panthers in assists, at 8.72 per set. Kristin Heldt (2.33 kills per set) and Davis (2.11) post 2+ kills per set each.
Liberty leads the all-time series, 25-6, over High Point. However, the Panthers won the most recent matchup, downing the Lady Flames in the Big South final, 3-0, Nov. 19, 2010. Liberty won both regular-season matchups against HPU last season, and is 9-6 versus High Point under Pinder. Pinder has gone 3-2 against High Point's third year head coach Jason Oliver.
Liberty vs. Campbell
Campbell (9-10, 2-1 Big South) won its first two conference matches this season before a 3-1 setback at Charleston Southern Saturday. The Camels have defeated Coastal Carolina and High Point so far in Big South play. The team ranks third in the Big South in opponents' hitting percentage (.181) and holds fourth place with 2.01 blocks per set and 1.33 service aces per set.
Junior Jordin Reaves, a 2009 Atlantic Sun All-Freshman team member, leads the Camels and ranks fifth in the Big South with 2.95 kills per set. Senior Annie Kobeski is rated sixth in the Big South in blocks per set (0.95) and seventh in aces per set (0.30). Kelsey Campbell leads the Camels with 3.22 digs on average. Lorin Thomas earned Big South Freshman of the Week Sept. 26, and averages 0.74 blocks per set.
Liberty is 7-3 against Campbell in the all-time series, having won the last three meetings. The most recent matchup between the Lady Flames and Camels saw Liberty win, 3-0, Sept. 6, 2003. These two teams met four times during Campbell's first stint in the Big South, with Liberty holding a 3-1 advantage in conference meetings. Liberty downed the Camels, 3-1, Nov. 4, 1993 in Lynchburg in the teams' last Big South matchup to date.