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Liberty Aims to Defend Title at Big South Volleyball Championship

November 13, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The top-seeded Liberty volleyball team begins its title defense on Thursday at noon, taking on No. 8 seed Charleston Southern.

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (22-7, 12-2 Big South), the No. 1 seed and defending champion, opens the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship on Thursday at noon against eighth-seeded Charleston Southern (13-20, 5-9). The Big South's postseason volleyball tournament will be held at Paul Porter Arena on the campus of Gardner-Webb in Boiling Springs, N.C.

The winner of Thursday's match will advance to a semifinal contest on Friday at 4:30 p.m., versus the winner of the match between No. 4 seed Presbyterian College and No. 5 seed Winthrop. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the winning team advancing to the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.

Liberty at a Glance
Liberty enters the conference tournament riding a seven-match winning streak, claiming victory in 10 out of its final 11 matches. The Lady Flames have won their conference-record sixth straight Big South regular-season title, and have posted six 20-win seasons in a row. The team leads the Big South in hitting percentage, kills and service aces.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for all matches at the Big South Volleyball Championship. Fans can view all contests via live video streaming, for a small charge, through the Big South Network. Sunday's championship match will be aired on ESPN3, with Matt Hogue calling play-by-play and Evan Lepler serving as color analyst.

Tournament Quick Points
The Lady Flames are 32-15 all-time in Big South tournament matches, holding the conference record for tournament victories (32), tournament titles (6) and finals appearances (11).

Liberty won conference tournament titles in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

The Lady Flames have qualified for the conference final match during each of the last five seasons, winning the title in three of those five appearances (2007, 2008, 2011).

Gardner-Webb hosts the Big South Volleyball Championship for the first time ever. Two of Liberty's six tournament championships have been captured in North Carolina, as the Lady Flames won the 1997 and 2008 tournaments at UNC Asheville's Justice Center.

Liberty is the No. 1 seed for the eighth time. The Lady Flames are 14-3 with six finals appearances and four titles when serving as the No. 1 seed.

Champions
Liberty swept Radford on Nov. 20, 2011 to claim its sixth Big South Conference championship and first since 2008. Loren Thomas was named Big South Tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by senior Kelly Haseman and sophomore Lillie Happel.

The Lady Flames registered a 3-1 win over Gardner-Webb in the quarterfinals last season, getting 11 kills from Loren Thomas. In the semifinals, Liberty swept UNC Asheville, 3-0, behind a .430 hitting percentage, the Lady Flames' highest ever in a postseason match.

The Lady Flames went on to face four-time defending national champion Penn State in the NCAA Volleyball Championship first round, falling in three sets.

2012 Season Highlights
Liberty opened the 2012 regular season with an 8-1 record which included an eight-match winning streak and a title at the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic. The Lady Flames posted a 10-5 non-conference record.

The Lady Flames went 9-0 at home, extending their home winning streaks to 14 matches overall, 26 home sets and 21 straight conference home matches.

Liberty recorded 3-0 victories over High Point on Oct. 6 and Presbyterian College on Oct. 19, as the Lady Flames entered both matches in a first-place tie with their opponent.

The team closed the regular season by winning all seven matches during the second half of the conference schedule to gain the Big South regular-season championship.

Scouting Charleston Southern
Charleston Southern returns to the Big South Volleyball Championship for the first time since 2010. In the Buccaneers' most recent two trips to the conference tournament (2009-10), they qualified for the semifinal both times.

Wynter Davis ranks fourth in the Big South with 1.01 blocks per set and is 10th with a .274 hitting percentage. Sydney Tracy is third in the conference with 0.38 aces per set. Kayla Klinger (2.52 kps) leads CSU in kills, while Ashley Higgenbothem leads the Buccaneers with 413 digs and Kirsten Struksnes has 909 assists.
First-year CSU head coach Al Givens picked up his 400th collegiate coaching victory against Coastal Carolina ealier this season.

Liberty is 34-4 all-time against Charleston Southern, including 16-1 under Pinder. The Lady Flames have won each of the last 11 matches between the teams, with Charleston Southern's last win over Liberty coming Oct. 21, 2006 in Charleston. Liberty's last four meetings with CSU away from Lynchburg have resulted in 3-2 Lady Flames wins.

Liberty held off CSU, 3-2, on Nov. 20, 2009 in the conference semifinal. Nicki Scripko led Liberty with 25 kills and Amanda Hill responded with 26 kills for the Buccaneers. Current Lady Flame Loren Thomas sent down a then-career high 12 kills in that match.

Last Meeting
Liberty rallied from a 2-1 deficit to down Charleston Southern, 3-2, Oct. 12, 2012 at CSU Fieldhouse. The Lady Flames posted 15 team blocks, including seven by Kendle Rollins. Caroline Douglas sent down 21 kills, while Jade Craycraft dished out a season-high 56 assists and Gabrielle Shipe collected a career-high 29 digs.

Sydney Tracy led CSU with 20 kills while Kayla Klinger registered 15 kills and 11 digs.