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Liberty Volleyball to Face UVA, Virginia Tech on Saturday
Complete Match Notes
Liberty volleyball continues its nine-match stretch away from Lynchburg on Saturday when the Lady Flames travel to Charlottesville, Va. to compete in the Marriott Cavalier Classic. The Lady Flames face ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Virginia at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
This past weekend, Liberty went 2-1 at the Kent State Mizuno Classic, good for a runner-up finish. The team's eight-match winning streak ended on Saturday against Marshall, but the Lady Flames (8-2) have tied their fastest start in program history.
Virginia (4-5) and Virginia Tech (6-3) will face each other on Friday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Gymnasium. The Hokies were predicted to finish seventh in the ACC preseason coaches' poll, while the Cavaliers were voted ninth.
Prior to Saturday, the last time the Lady Flames played against two ACC teams on the same day was Sept. 19, 2009, when Liberty took on both Duke and Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Liberty's matches on Saturday, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats are courtesy of Virginia Athletics Media Relations. Fans can also follow the action through periodic Twitter updates by following @libertyflames.
- Liberty (8-2) has tied its fastest start to a season in program history (also 1996, 2008).
- Team is in midst of nine-match road swing (next home match: Sept. 21 vs. Radford)
- The Lady Flames earned runner-up finish at Kent State Mizuno Classic, Sept. 7-8.
- Liberty's recently-completed 8-match winning streak was its longest since 2010.
- Loren Thomas and Caroline Douglas were named to Kent State Classic all-tourney team.
- This past weekend, Thomas entered top 10 in Big South history with 395 career blocks.
- Liberty downed Kent State, 3-2, Sept. 7 (14-1 in last 15 five-set matches).
- The Lady Flames lead the Big South in hitting percentage and service aces.
- Caroline Douglas has the conference's top hitting percentage (.367).
- The team was voted to repeat as Big South champions in the preseason coaches poll.
- Loren Thomas was named the 2012 Big South Preseason Player of the Year.
Kent State Recap
Liberty posted a 2-1 record at the Kent State Mizuno Clasic this past weekend, sweeping Saint Francis (Pa.) before holding off host Kent State, 3-2. Marshall downed the Lady Flames on Sept. 8 on the way to the tournament title. Caroline Douglas was named to the all-tournament team for the third weekend in a row, while Loren Thomas earned her second straight all-tournament mention.
Douglas led the Lady Flames with 16 kills against Kent State, while Ansley Gebben added 12 kills. Jade Craycraft finished one kill shy of a triple-double, with nine kills, 45 assists and 12 digs in addition to six blocks.
Down to the Wire
Following its 3-2 win over Kent State on Sept. 7, Liberty is 3-1 in five-set matches this season, and has won 14 out of its last 15 five-set contests dating back to Sept. 25, 2010.
Liberty is 19-4 in five-set matches since 2009, including 6-0 last season. In each of the last four seasons, the team has won at least one match when trailing, 2-0, in sets.
Leading the Pack
At present, the Lady Flames sit atop the Big South statistical charts in both hitting percentage (.242) and aces per set (1.77). Liberty's aces per set rank 10th in the first NCAA Division I statistical listing.
Additionally, redshirt freshman Caroline Douglas is first in the conference with a .367 attack percentage. Douglas is the only conference freshman to rank in the top 10 in hitting percentage.
The Lady Flames registered 14.5 team blocks against Kent State to tie a season high, set Aug. 28 versus William and Mary. Against the Golden Flashes, Loren Thomas and Kendle Rollins both posted seven blocks, while Jade Craycraft added six rejections.
With 15 blocks this past weekend, Thomas entered the Big South's career top 10 in blocks, as she has totaled 395 career blocks. Only two players in program history have posted 400 or more blocks, in Kim Lawson (1990-92) and Anthonia Akpama (1996-99).
Rollins, at 218 career blocks, needs 41 more blocks to enter Liberty's top 10 all-time.
Sophomore Gabrielle Shipe has been Liberty's starting libero a majority of the season and ranks fourth in the Big South with 3.62 digs per set. This year, she has led the team in digs in all 10 matches, and has eight 10-dig and two 20-dig contests to her credit.
Shipe set a career high with 20 digs in the season opener against UNCG, and collected 22 digs on Aug. 28 against William & Mary. In addition to Shipe, Lillie Happel (5 times), Becca Haraf (4), Jade Craycraft (3) and Ansley Gebben (3) all have three or more 10+ dig matches in 2012.
Serving Up Aces
The Lady Flames average 1.77 aces per set, a total which paces the conference. The last time Liberty led the Big South in aces at the end of the season was 2010, when the Lady Flames averaged 1.71 aces per set.
Jade Craycraft, Kendle Rollins and Lillie Happel share the team lead with 12 aces apiece, while Gabrielle Shipe and Becca Haraf both have recorded nine aces.
The team served up at least one ace in 224 straight matches, a streak which began on Oct. 7, 2005 at Charleston Southern and came to a close Sept. 8, 2012 versus Marshall.
Liberty vs. Virginia Tech
All-Time Series: Virginia Tech leads, 36-6
Last Meeting: Virginia Tech 3, Liberty 0 (Aug. 29, 2009 - Blacksburg, Va.)
Virginia Tech (6-3) had a five-match winning streak snapped by High Point of the Big South, 3-1, on Saturday night. The Hokies rank 11th in the nation in hitting percentage (.310) and 32nd in kills per set (14.18). Three Virginia Tech players rank in the nation's top 20 in hitting percentage, in Victoria Hamsher (.461), Kathryn Caine (.446) and two-time All-America honorable mention Cara Baarendse (.426). Jordan Fish ranks 21st in NCAA Division I with 11.47 assists per set.
Virginia Tech holds a 36-6 lead all-time against Liberty. The Hokies swept the Lady Flames in their last meeting, Aug. 29, 2009 in Blacksburg. Liberty's last win over Virginia Tech, 3-1 in the Vines Center, came on Oct. 14, 2003 as four Liberty players (including current assistant coaches Jennifer Vaden and Rebecca Rudnick) posted 15 or more kills.
The Lady Flames have won 12 out of 98 all-time meetings against ACC opponents, including setbacks against N.C. State and North Carolina last season. Liberty's last win against an ACC team came Aug. 30, 2008, a 3-1 win over Maryland after downing N.C. State the day before at the VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational.
Liberty vs. Virginia
All-Time Series: Virginia leads, 29-2
Last Meeting: Virginia 3, Liberty 0 (Sept. 3, 2010 - Charlottesville, Va.)
Virginia (4-5) won its most recent match, 3-0 over Appalachian State in Richmond. Tori Janowski leads the Cavaliers with 3.23 kills per set, and is second with 4.90 assists per set. Preseason All-ACC team selection Jessica O'Shoney averages 2.47 kills per set and 0.93 blocks per set. Emily Rottman, at 4.43 digs per set, is UVA's leading defender.
Virginia leads the all-time series, 29-2, over the Lady Flames. In the teams' last meeting, Sept. 3, 2010, the Cavaliers swept Liberty, 3-0 (26-24, 25-20, 25-18). Simone Asque led all players with 16 kills, while Liberty's Karyl Bacon had a double-double with 10 kills and 12 digs.
Commonwealth of Success
Liberty faces a pair of in-state opponents in Charlottesville this weekend. The Lady Flames have won their last six matches inside the Commonwealth of Virginia, and are 23-4 in their home state since the start of the 2010 season.
In total, the Lady Flames will compete in Virginia 13 times this season, including nine home matches, and trips to Charlottesville, VCU and Radford.
Off and Running
The Lady Flames (8-2) have tied their best 10-match start since joining the Big South Conference in 1991. In 2008, Liberty won its first eight matches in a row, and was 8-2 after 10 matches on the way to a 25-9 record and a Big South championship.
In 1996, Liberty was 8-2 after 10 contests, finishing with a 24-10 overall record.
Liberty's recently-completed eight-match winning streak was its longest since an eight-match streak in October of 2010. The Lady Flames have posted four winning streaks of eight contests or longer under ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder.