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Liberty Volleyball Claims 4 Top Big South Awards

November 14, 2012
|  Lynchburg, Va.
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The Liberty volleyball team receives the Big South regular-season championship trophy for the sixth year in a row.

The Big South regular-season champion Liberty volleyball team claimed four major postseason conference awards, as announced at a banquet held on Wednesday at Gardner-Webb.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Caroline Douglas was named both Big South Player of the Year and Big South Freshman of the Year. Head coach Shane Pinder was tabbed Big South Coach of the Year, and junior defensive specialist Becca Haraf shared Big South Scholar-Athlete of the Year honors with Molly Barlow of High Point.

Liberty placed four players on the Big South All-Conference team for the fourth straight year, including three on the first team for the first time in program history. Douglas was joined on the first team by junior setter Jade Craycraft and senior middle blocker Loren Thomas, while junior outside hitter Lillie Happel was named to the second team.

The Lady Flames are the first team in Big South history to claim all four major individual postseason awards during the same season. Also, Douglas is the first conference student-athlete to win both Big South Player of the Year and Big South Freshman of the Year in the same year.

The Lady Flames (22-7) also received the Big South regular-season championship trophy for a conference-record sixth season in a row, after going 12-2 in conference play.

Douglas, a Greenville, N.C., native, is the fifth Lady Flame, and first since Kallie Corbin (2008) to win Big South Player of the year honors. Prior to Wednesday, Jade Craycraft (2010) was the last Liberty volleyball player to be named Big South Freshman of the Year.

Douglas, a four-time Big South Freshman of the Week, leads the Big South in kills both overall (3.67) and during Big South play (4.18). Her .292 hitting percentage ranks sixth overall in the Big South and first among conference outside hitters. She sent down a career-high 26 kills at High Point, tying for the most by a Big South player this season.

Pinder, in his ninth year as the Lady Flames' head coach, was named Big South Coach of the Year for the third time, the most by any volleyball coach in conference history. He also received the award in 2007 and 2010. Pinder has led the Lady Flames to six straight 20-win seasons and six Big South regular-season titles in a row.

Haraf, hailing from Arlington Heights, Ill., receives Liberty's fourth Big South Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year award, and first since Kristin Colson in 2004. She has earned a cumulative 4.0 grade-point average as a biology/pre-med major. Haraf leads the Lady Flames and is eighth in the Big South with 0.32 service aces per set, helping Liberty pace the conference in aces.

Craycraft, a native of Wooster, Ohio, claims her third All-Conference award in as many years as a Lady Flame while making her first appearance on the first team. The 2010 Big South Freshman of the Year, Craycraft leads the Lady Flames with 10 double-doubles this season. She ranks third in the Big South in assists per set and 10th in aces per set. She was named Big South Player of the Week on Oct. 22.
Thomas, an Ocoee, Fla., product, earns her third All-Conference award, including first-team showings in back-to-back years. This season, Thomas leads the Big South in hitting percentage (.319) while also ranking sixth in the conference in blocks (0.98 bps). She was named Big South Player of the Week on Sept. 4 after being named tournament MVP at the Holiday Inn Select/UCF Classic. She has hit .500 or better twice this season, including .700 at Georgetown.

Happel, from Ellicott City, Md., was previously named to the Big South All-Conference first team in 2011. She ranks seventh in the Big South with 3.06 kills per set during conference play. Her play has helped key Liberty's current seven-match winning streak, as she has averaged 3.92 kills and 2.80 digs per set during that span. She sent down a career-high 26 kills at Radford, tying for the most kills by a Big South player this season.

The Lady Flames open the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting on Thursday at Noon. Top-seeded and defending champion Liberty will meet No. 8 seed Charleston Southern to inaugurate the Big South Championship at Gardner-Webb's Paul Porter Arena.

2012 Big South Conference Volleyball Award Winners

First Team All-Conference
Caroline Douglas, Liberty

Presley Mabrey, Presbyterian College
Jade Craycraft, Liberty
Courtney Johnk, High Point
Loren Thomas, Liberty
Kindra Bailey, Coastal Carolina
Mary Trimpe, Presbyterian College

Second Team All-Conference
Anna Moore, UNC Asheville
Jamie McDonald, High Point
Kristin Heldt, High Point
Ashtin Frank, Presbyterian College
Jennica Mullins, Winthrop
Lillie Happel, Liberty
Stephanie Palmer, Winthrop
Annemarie Chin, High Point

All-Freshman Team
Caroline Douglas, Liberty

Gabriella Horvath, Coastal Carolina
Ezster Nagy, Coastal Carolina
Meredith Parrott, Charleston Southern
Annemarie Chin, High Point
Katie Davis, UNC Asheville
Rachel Lenz, Winthrop

All-Academic Team
Heather Wilson, Campbell
Wynter Davis, Charleston Southern
Lauren Alejo, Coastal Carolina
Heather Feldman, Gardner-Webb
Molly Barlow, High Point
Becca Haraf, Liberty
Andrea Barman, Presbyterian College
Jesse Miedema, Radford
Chelsie Kenley, UNC Asheville
Catherine Brusie, Winthrop

Player of the Year
Caroline Douglas, Liberty

Freshman of the Year
Caroline Douglas, Liberty

Coach of the Year
Shane Pinder, Liberty

Scholar-Athlete of the Year (tie)
Becca Haraf, Liberty

Molly Barlow, High Point