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Lady Flames Set to Host VCU Tuesday

October 10, 2011
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Liberty Lady Flames volleyball team faces Commonwealth rival VCU Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center.

Complete Match Notes

Liberty steps outside of Big South Conference play Tuesday, taking on Commonwealth opponent VCU at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center. The Lady Flames (9-10, 4-1 Big South) are tied with Winthrop atop league standings. The Rams sport a 7-12 record, with a 2-3 mark in CAA play. The match could feature a large number of blocks, as Liberty (2.48 bps) leads the Big South and VCU (2.51) is second in the CAA in blocks per set.

Liberty at a Glance
Liberty split a pair of conference matches this past weekend, falling 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-16) at High Point, before sweeping Campbell (26-24, 25-23, 30-28) Saturday.

Conference blocks leader Loren Thomas tied her career high with 14 kills, in addition to six blocks, Saturday at Campbell. Kelly Haseman broke the Liberty career digs record with a match-high 18, Saturday. Freshman Melissa Racz earned a career-high nine kills and Becca Haraf tied her career high with 14 digs at Campbell.

The Lady Flames are a perfect 5-0 at home this season, and play all three matches of this week's matches at the Vines Center.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Tuesday's match can be viewed through live video streaming via the Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network. Ray Jones will provide play-by-play, with Erin McKeown serving as the color analyst. Live stats can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com.

Haseman Claims Program Digs Record
Senior libero Kelly Haseman surpassed Nikki Keznor's (1991-94) career digs total on Saturday, making Haseman the Liberty record holder with 1,746 career digs. Haseman is now sixth all-time on the Big south digs list, 88 digs away from entering the top five. She posted 18 digs apiece at High Point and at Campbell this past weekend. Haseman also holds the program rally-scoring record for digs in a season (653 in 2010) and is tied for the single-match standard (35 on Nov. 13, 2010 vs. UNC Asheville).

Career Day
Four Lady Flames set or tied career highs Saturday at Campbell. Loren Thomas tied a career high with 14 kills, hitting at a .357 pace, and posting her third 10+-kill match in five Big South contests this season. She also added six blocks against the Camels.

Freshman Melissa Racz earned a season-best nine kills, hitting .278 on Saturday. Becca Haraf tied her career high with 14 digs.

Thomas Blocks the Big South
Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas leads the Big South in blocks per set at 1.25, and has posted 1.74 blocks on average during league play. She posted a program rally-scoring-record 12 blocks during Liberty's 3-2 win over Radford on Sept. 23.

Thomas has totaled 278 career blocks, ranking her ninth all-time at Liberty. She holds fourth place in Liberty's rally-scoring history with 44 solo blocks. Current assistant coach Jennifer Vaden posted 65 career solo blocks, leading all Lady Flames since 2001.

Dig In
The Lady Flames recorded 70 digs in Saturday's 3-0 win at Campbell. Liberty's 70 digs were the most by the team in a three-set match, since totaling 87 digs in a 3-0 victory at High Point, Nov. 11, 2008.

On Saturday, six Lady Flames registered at least eight digs, led by Kelly Haseman's match-high 18 digs. Becca Haraf added 14 digs, while Ansley Gebben and Jade Craycraft had nine apiece. Lillie Happel and Gabrielle Shipe collected eight digs apiece.

Set Me Up
Sophomore setter Jade Craycraft had a strong all-around match Saturday at Campbell. She dished out 36 assists, in addition to six kills, nine digs, and three blocks. Her 36 assists were the most by a Lady Flame in a three-set match this season.

Craycraft is the only Liberty player to post a triple-double under the current 25-point scoring format, earning a triple-double Nov. 18, 2010 at Winthrop.

Happel on the Attack
Lillie Happel leads the Big South with 3.68 kills per set. On Friday at High Point, she posted 11 kills, her seventh double-digit kill match in a row. Her 10+-kill streak, the longest of her career, ended on Saturday.

Happel has recorded two 20-kill matches this season, including a career-high 25 kills Sept. 2 vs. Seton Hall and 22 kills vs. Gardner-Webb Oct. 1. She has also registered six double-doubles in 2011, one shy of her total as a freshman last season.

At The Top
Liberty ranks first in the Big South and is 46th in the nation with a 2.48 blocks per set average. Loren Thomas leads the conference with 1.25 blocks per set. Lillie Happel tops the Big South with a 3.68 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).

Home Sweet Home
Liberty has been traditionally dominant at the Vines Center, having recorded an 89-30 at home since 2001. Starting in 2007, the Lady Flames have posted a 42-7 home record. Overall, Liberty is 57-22 in home matches under eighth-year head coach Shane Pinder.

The Lady Flames are in the midst of a 12-match home winning streak. They won the last seven matches in the Vines Center last season and opened the home slate with five wins in 2011. The longest home winning skein in program history is 17 matches, from Oct. 15, 1996 through Sept. 18, 1998.

This season, Liberty has out-hit the opposition, .280 to .106, at the Vines Center, totaling 13 kills per set, compared with 9.47 for opponents.

Scouting VCU
VCU enters Tuesday's match with a 7-12 record, as the Rams swept William & Mary, 3-0, Thursday night to bring their conference record to 2-3. The Rams have been efficient at the net this year, and currently lead the CAA with a .239 hitting percentage. VCU ranks second in the CAA in blocks at 2.51 per set. The Rams will be Liberty's third CAA opponent this season, as the Lady Flames fell to Towson and James Madison earlier in 2011.

Courtney Hott attacks at a .349 efficiency, good for second in the CAA. Hott is seventh in conference standings with 1.02 blocks per set. Kristin Boyd, a 2010 CAA All-Tournament team member, is ranked third in the CAA in kills average, at 3.63 per set. Freshman setter Cecilia Aragao averages 9.08 assists per set, good for fifth in the CAA. She also leads the Rams with 153 total digs and averages 0.82 blocks per set. Jessica Ojukwu checks in with 2.39 kills per set.

Coaching Matchup
VCU head coach James Finley is in his seventh season leading the Rams, posting a 116-105 overall record, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005. Liberty head coach Shane Pinder has posted a 138-110 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 teams have gone 1-5 against VCU, with the Rams winning all five meetings against Liberty under coach Finley.

Series History
Liberty maintains a slim 13-12 advantage over VCU in volleyball. The Rams have won each of the last five meetings. Liberty's last win over VCU occurred Oct. 26, 2004 in the Vines Center, during Pinder's first season as Liberty's head coach. Current Liberty assistant coach Jennifer Vaden posted 22 kills and 11 digs for the Lady Flames that night.

Last Meeting - Liberty vs. VCU
The Lady Flames and Rams last met Nov. 28, 2009, in the Third Degree Sportswear Thanksgiving Invitational at VCU. Liberty ended the 2009 campaign at 20-14 with a 3-0 setback at the hands of VCU. The Rams improved to 27-9 with the win. Rebecca Warren led all players with a career-high 14 kills for the Lady Flames. Kelly Haseman added 16 digs to push her season total to 560 digs. Ivana Rich led VCU with 10 kills.