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Liberty, Radford Set for Tuesday Showdown at Vines Center

October 24, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty, Radford Set for Tuesday Showdown at Vines Center

Complete Match Notes

Liberty volleyball (13-9, 8-2 Big South), currently second in Big South standings, brings an eight-match winning streak into a key match with conference-leading Radford (18-4, 9-1). First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Vines Center. Since falling at Radford, 3-2, on Sept. 27, Liberty has gone 8-0, including 5-0 in five-set matches.

The Lady Flames lead the all-time series over Radford, 44-31, despite the Highlanders winning the last three meetings, including the last two in five sets.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Tuesday's match, through StatBroadcast. Additionally, the match will be available for viewing, free of charge, on the Big South Network, the Liberty Flames Sports Network and ESPN3.com. Ray Jones will serve as play-by-play announcer, with Erin Hagen providing analysis.

Starting Rotation
1.   Liberty posted wins at Winthrop and Gardner-Webb last weekend, extending its winning streak to eight matches. The Lady Flames' 3-2 win at Gardner-Webb on Saturday was their fifth five-set victory during the winning streak.

2.   Leah Clayton was named Big South Volleyball Freshman of the Week on Monday. She is the first Liberty freshman in rally-scoring history with three straight 20-kill matches.

3.   Liberty served up a season-high 12 aces on Saturday at Gardner-Webb. Sirena Vorster recorded 12 kills, a career-high six aces and six blocks. She is the first Lady Flame in rally-scoring history to post 12+ kills, 6+ aces and 6+ blocks in the same match.

4.   Four Lady Flames - Leah Clayton (21), Gabrielle Vess (16), Sirena Vorster (12) and Anna Gragg (11) - reached double figures in kills, Saturday at Gardner-Webb. It marked the first time since Sept. 20, 2014 that four Lady Flames scored 10+ kills in one match.

5.   Anna Willey has posted four straight 50-assist matches for the first time in her career. She is the first Lady Flame with four straight 50-assist contests since Kristin Colson in 2004. With 1,993 career assists, Willey ranks ninth in program history.

6.   Sirena Vorster and Anna Gragg both posted six blocks at Gardner-Webb. Vorster and Gragg rank first and second, in that order, in the Big South in blocks per set.

7.         Margaret Latchford, who collected a season-high 28 digs on Saturday at Gardner-Webb, needs nine more digs to become the fifth player in program history to reach 800 career digs as a sophomore.

Clayton Named Big South Freshman of the Week
Leah Clayton was named Big South Freshman of the Week for the second time, Monday. Anna Gragg has two Freshman of the Week honors this season (Sept. 19, Oct. 17), while Casey Goodwin received the award on Sept. 12.

Clayton averaged 4.78 kills per set during a 2-0 week. She recorded her fifth double-double in a row, with 22 kills and 10 digs at Winthrop, before scoring 21 kills in a five-set win at Gardner-Webb. She is the first Liberty freshman in rally-scoring history with three straight 20-kill matches.

This is the first time in conference history that two players from the same school have been named Big South Freshman of the Week twice in the same season.

4X10
On Saturday at Gardner-Webb, four Lady Flames - Leah Clayton (21), Gabrielle Vess (16), Sirena Vorster (12) and Anna Gragg (11) - reached double figures in kills. It marked the first time since Sept. 20, 2014 versus Wright State that four Lady Flames scored 10+ kills in one match. That day, Caroline Douglas (17), Hannah Weidner (15), Jade Vorster (11) and Sirena Vorster (11) all scored 10 or more kills.

On a Tear
Leah Clayton recorded career highs with 24 kills and 19 digs in a 3-2 win at Charleston Southern, Saturday. Her 24 kills at Charleston Southern were the most by a Liberty true freshman since Jennifer Belk's 28 kills against Coastal Carolina, Nov. 15, 2001.

Clayton and Gabrielle Vess have both scored in double figures in kills in each of the last six matches. During that span, Clayton averaged 4.48 kills per set and Vess averaged 2.67 kills per set. The last time two Liberty teammates both posted 10 or more kills in the same stretch or longer was 2014, when Caroline Douglas and Hannah Weidner both reached double-figures each match during an 18-match stretch.

Serving Up Aces
Liberty served up a season-high 12 aces on Saturday at Gardner-Webb, its most aces since a 13-ace match at N.C. Central, Aug. 24, 2012. Sirena Vorster recorded a career-high six aces, while Payton Carter registered three aces. Vorster became the fifth Liberty player in rally-scoring history, and first since Lillie Happel versus UNC Asheville, Nov. 13, 2010, with six aces in a single match.

Digging In
Senior Michelle Melendez tied her career high with 22 digs at Charleston Southern, Oct. 15. Then, Margaret Latchford collected a season-high 28 digs at Gardner-Webb, Saturday.

With 791 career digs, Latchford needs nine more digs to become the fifth Lady Flame to surpass 800 digs during her sophomore year. Program record holder Kelly Haseman (2008-11) holds the record for most digs in her first two seasons at Liberty, with 867.

Dishing it Out
Anna Willey is ranked second in the Big South with 9.54 assists per set. She has dished out 50 or more assists in each of the last four matches. The last Liberty player with four straight 50-assist matches was Kristin Colson in 2004.

Willey is now ranked ninth all-time in program history with 1,993 career assists, passing Theresa Bream (1987-90) last Friday at Winthrop.

On Sept. 9 against USC Upstate, Hannah Morris dished out a career-high 51 assists.

Morris and Willey are the first Liberty teammates to both post at least one 50-assist match in the same season since 2009, when Courtney Boggs and Kallie Corbin did so.

Liberty vs. Radford (Liberty leads all-time series, 44-31)
Current Series Streak: Radford W3
Last Meeting: Radford 3, Liberty 2 (Sept. 27, 2016 - Radford, Va.)
Last Liberty Victory: Liberty 3, Radford 1 (Sept. 25, 2015 - Radford, Va.)
Radford Head Coach: Marci Jenkins (2011, 2013, 2014 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record at Radford: 146-129 (9th Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 235-172 (13th Year)

Radford (18-4, 9-1) has lost just once in league play so far this year, falling 3-1 at Charleston Southern on Oct. 14. The Highlanders pace the conference in both hitting percentage (.231), opponents' hitting percentage (.155) and kills per set (13.47)

Maddie Palmer, five-time Big South Player of the Week, leads the Big South with 4.33 kills per set and 0.46 aces per set. 2015 Big South All-Freshman team member Haley Kleespies is the conference leader with 11.24 assists per set. Mallory McKnight hits a team-best .271, while Kelby Jackson's 3.79 digs per set lead Radford.

Series History
Liberty holds a 44-31 overall record against Radford in volleyball. The Lady Flames had won 24 straight meetings with the Highlanders before a 3-0 Radford win, Sept. 27, 2013 at the Dedmon Center. The two teams split the regular-season series each of the last three years, while Radford won conference tournament matches against Liberty in 2013 and 2015. The Highlanders have won the last three meetings in a row.

Liberty (2007 through 2012) and Radford (2013, 2014) combined to win each of the eight Big South regular-season volleyball titles from 2007 through 2014.

Last Meeting
Radford built a 2-0 lead on Sept. 27 at the Dedmon Center, before holding on to win, 3-2. Leah Clayton led all players with 19 kills, adding 12 digs in her Big South debut. Radford's Maddie Palmer and Amaya Rousseau both scored 14 kills. The Lady Flames posted 15 blocks, getting six or more blocks from four different players, all freshmen.

Home Cooking
Liberty has been historically dominant at home, as the Lady Flames are 85-17 (.833) in home matches since the start of the 2007 season. The team has gone 5-1 in the Vines Center this season, and Liberty is 20-5 in its last 25 home matches and 41-9 in its last 50 contests at the Vines Center. Under 13th-year Head Coach Shane Pinder, Liberty is 98-31 at home, including 72-17 (.808) against Big South teams.