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Johnson, Shipe Earn Big South Honors

October 15, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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Gabrielle Shipe was named Big South Defensive Player of the Week, while Monica Johnson was named Freshman of the Week.

The Liberty volleyball team split a pair of road matches in South Carolina this past weekend, remaining in a tie for the conference lead. As a result, sophomore libero Gabrielle Shipe was named Big South Defensive Player of the Week and right-side hitter Monica Johnson was tabbed Big South Freshman of the Week.

Shipe earns her second Defensive Player of the Week honor this season, while Johnson receives becomes the second Lady Flame to receive Freshman of the Week laurels in 2012. Johnson and Caroline Douglas are the first pair of Lady Flames to be named Freshman of the Week in the same season since Jade Craycraft and Lillie Happel in 2010.

The last time that two Lady Flames received Big South weekly awards on the same day was Sept. 4, 2012, when Loren Thomas was named Player of the Week and Shipe was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week.

Shipe, an Orlando, Fla., native, led the Lady Flames with 5.0 digs per set this past weekend. On Friday at Charleston Southern, she helped Liberty down the Buccaneers, 3-2, collecting a career-high 29 digs while the Lady Flames posted a season-high of 82 digs. Her 29 digs at Charleston Southern were the most by a Lady Flame since Kelly Haseman recorded a Liberty rally-scoring-record 35 digs on Nov. 13, 2010.

Shipe then registered a match-high 16 digs on Saturday at Coastal Carolina, marking her 18th 10-dig match this season and 20th time leading the team in digs.

A Niceville, Fla., product, Johnson had a breakout week on the right side. She averaged 2.0 kills and 1.0 blocks per set, hitting .361. She played a key role in Liberty's 3-2 win at CSU, tallying a career-high 11 kills and posting a career-high six blocks. With her performance at Charleston Southern, Johnson became the first Liberty true freshman since Nicki Scripko in 2007 to have 10 kills and five blocks in the same match.

Johnson registered seven kills on Saturday at Coastal Carolina, hitting .312 and adding three block assists.

The Lady Flames (15-7, 5-2 Big South) are in a three-way tie atop the conference standings. They host co-leader Presbyterian College on Friday at 7 p.m. in Liberty's Dig Pink Match, to raise funds and breast cancer awareness. Liberty then hosts Winthrop on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.