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Lady Flames Set to Host James Madison, Tuesday
Complete Match Notes
The Liberty volleyball team steps outside of conference play to face James Madison on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center. Both teams are coming off of home wins in their respective conference openers, as Liberty began the Big South slate with a 3-0 victory over Radford on Friday and the Dukes swept Georgia State on Saturday. Additionally, Liberty and JMU are both 7-3 in their last 10 contests.
James Madison holds a 20-10 record all-time against Liberty, and won last year's meeting by a 3-1 score, Sept. 20, 2011 in Harrisonburg.
Liberty at a Glance
For the eighth year in a row, Liberty opened Big South play with a victory, sweeping 2011 Big South runner-up Radford on Friday at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames have now won 15 conference home matches in a row, three shy of a program record.
Caroline Douglas tallied a match-high 13 kills on Friday, her fourth 10-kill match in a row, followed by 12 from Ansley Gebben. Gabrielle Shipe posted a match-high 18 digs.
How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and video streaming will be available for Tuesday's match, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats are courtesy of Liberty's athletics communications office. Fans can view the match through live video streaming, for a small charge, through the Big South Network, with Ray Jones on play-by-play and Erin McKeown as the color analyst.
- Liberty opened the Big South schedule with a 3-0 sweep of Radford on Friday.
- The Lady Flames have now won eight straight Big South openers.
- Liberty hit .308 as a team during 2-0 week (Thomas - .472, Craycraft - .455).
- Loren Thomas leads Big South with .331 hitting percentage, hit .700 last Tuesday.
- Both Liberty and James Madison have seven true freshmen on their roster.
- The Lady Flames lead the Big South in hitting percentage and service aces.
- Liberty has won each of its last seven home matches, dating to Oct. 14, 2011.
- The team is 19-1 in its last 20 home contests, dating to Oct. 2, 2010 vs. Charleston So.
- Liberty, at 10-4, reached 10 wins during its 14th match, same as the 2008 Lady Flames.
- The Lady Flames are 14-2 in last 16 five-set matches, including 3-2 this season.
- James Madison leads the all-time series with Liberty, 20-10 (W, 3-1, Sept. 20, 2011).
Week in Review
Liberty went 2-0 this past week, snapping a three-match winless streak with a 3-1 win at Georgetown before opening up the conference schedule with a sweep of Radford.
At Georgetown, the Lady Flames hit .352 as a team, led by Loren Thomas' .700 performance (15-1-20). Thomas' hitting percentage at Georgetown was the third best by a Lady Flame since 2001.
Last Friday, the Lady Flames swept Radford in a rematch of the 2011 Big South Volleyball Championship final, out-hitting the Highlanders, .257-.192. Radford entered the match as the Big South leader in digs, but Liberty recorded 53 digs to the Highlanders' 46.
The Lady Flames hit .308 this past week, raising their conference-leading hitting percentage to .248. As a frame of reference, Liberty's rally-scoring (since 2001) single-season record for hitting percentage is .232, set in 2007.
Of Liberty's players averaging one or more kill per set this year, Jade Craycraft (.397), Loren Thomas (.331) and Caroline Douglas (.311) are all hitting .300 or better
Jade Craycraft has been strong in each aspect of the game during her career at Liberty, including a triple-double during the Big South semifinal at Winthrop, Nov. 19, 2010.
She ranks fourth in the Big South with 8.85 assists per set this season.
On Sept. 7 at Kent State, she had nine kills, 45 assists, 12 digs and six blocks, finishing one kill shy of her second career triple-double. This past Friday against Radford, she recorded eight kills, hitting .462, in addition to 31 assists, seven digs and two blocks.
This past Friday against Radford, Caroline Douglas led the Lady Flames with 13 kills, while Ansley Gebben followed with 12 kills. That marked the fifth time this season when both Douglas and Gebben connected for double-digit kills during the same match.
There have been nine matches in 2012 during which two or more Lady Flames had 10+ kills, including two (Aug. 31 vs. Jacksonville and Columbia) in which Douglas, Gebben and Loren Thomas all reached double-figures in kills.
Acing the Test
Liberty's serving game has been effective this season, as six Lady Flames have served up at least 10 aces so far in 2012. Becca Haraf leads the team with 18 aces, followed by Kendle Rollins and Jade Craycraft with 15 apiece. Lillie Happel and Gabrielle Shipe have 14 apiece, while Ansley Gebben has recorded 10 aces.
Liberty's rally-scoring record for aces is 217, set in 2010. That season, the Lady Flames averaged 1.71 aces per set in 127 sets. This year, Liberty is averaging 1.77 aces per set, putting the team ahead of team-record pace.
Leading the Pack
At present, the Lady Flames sit atop the Big South statistical charts in both hitting percentage (.248) and aces per set (1.77). Liberty's aces per set ranked 14th nationally in the Sept. 17 NCAA Division I statistical listing.
Loren Thomas (.331) and Caroline Douglas (.311) rank first and third in the Big South in hitting percentage. Douglas is second in the conference with 3.12 kills per set, and is the only Big South freshman, true or redshirt, to rank in the top 10 in either category.
Liberty vs. James Madison
All-Time Series: James Madison leads, 20-10
Current Series Streak: James Madison W1
Last Meeting: James Madison 3, Liberty 1 (Sept. 20, 2011 - Harrisonburg, Va.)
Last Liberty Victory: Liberty 3, James Madison 1 (Sept. 14, 2010 - Lynchburg, Va.)
James Madison Head Coach: Lauren Steinbrecher
Coaching Record: 50-25 (3rd Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder
Coaching Record: 159-117 (9th Year)
James Madison (8-6) has recovered from a 1-5 start, going 7-1 in its last seven matches. The Dukes, predicted to finish third in the 2012 CAA preseason coaches' poll, opened the conference slate with a 3-0 home win over Georgia State on Saturday. JMU swept Radford, 3-0, on Sept. 11 in its first match against a Big South team this year.
Natalie Abel, the 2011 VaSID State Player of the Year, is second in the CAA with 3.57 kills per set, while three-team All-CAA selection Danielle Erb averages 3.17 kills per set. Setter Megan Wiechmann ranks second in the CAA with 10.29 assists per set. Katie Daorai is second in the conference with 0.41 aces per set and fourth with 4.73 digs per set.
The Lady Flames downed William & Mary, 3-1 on Aug. 28 at home, in its first meeting with a CAA opponent this season.
James Madison has won two-thirds of its 30 all-time meetings against Liberty. Liberty had won two matches in a row in the series prior to a 3-1 James Madison victory, Sept. 20, 2011 in Harrisonburg. The Dukes won the first-ever meeting between the two teams, 2-0, in 1980. Liberty's most recent win over James Madison came Sept. 14, 2010 in the Vines Center, a 3-1 Lady Flames victory (25-16, 25-15, 13-25, 25-18).
The Lady Flames have gone 2-5 against James Madison under ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder.
Last Meeting - Liberty vs. James Madison
Liberty traveled to Harrisonburg on Sept. 20, 2011 and fell 3-1 (26-24, 24-23, 25-20, 25-22) to James Madison in the team's final tune-up before conference play.
Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft both earned double-doubles, as Happel had 15 kills and 15 digs and Craycraft recorded 24 assists and 14 digs. Also in that match, Loren Thomas entered Liberty's all-time top 10 list in blocking with her 245th career block. JMU's Danielle Erb led all players with 20 kills.
Home Sweet Home
Opponents face a tough task when entering the Vines Center, as Liberty volleyball has gone 49-8 (.860) at home over the past five seasons. In total, the Lady Flames are 64-23 in home matches under ninth-year head coach Shane Pinder.
Liberty is currently on a seven-match home winning streak, with its last loss in the Vines Center taking place on Oct. 11, 2011 against VCU. That loss snapped a 12-match home winning streak, meaning that Liberty has won 19 out of its last 20 home contests.