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Lady Flames to Host UNC Asheville, Saturday

October 27, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames to Host UNC Asheville, Saturday

Complete Match Notes

Liberty volleyball (13-10, 8-3 Big South), currently second in the Big South standings, remains home to face UNC Asheville (11-11, 5-6), Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Vines Center.  Both teams are playing well lately, with Liberty winning eight out of its last nine matches and UNC Asheville going 4-1 in its last five contests entering the weekend.

The Lady Flames lead the all-time series over UNC Asheville, 38-22, after posting a spirited five-set comeback win on Sept. 30, 2016 in the Justice Center.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Saturday's match, through StatBroadcast, courtesy of Liberty Athletics Communications. Additionally, fans can follow @LUGameday for twitter updates.

Starting Rotation
1.   Despite a 28-26 set-one victory on Tuesday, Liberty saw its eight-match winning streak come to an end in a 3-1 loss to conference-leading Radford.

2.   Leah Clayton was named Big South Volleyball Freshman of the Week on Monday. She then recorded her fourth straight 20-kill match, scoring a career-high 25 kills to go with 18 digs against Radford on Tuesday.

3.   Anna Willey became the ninth player in program history with 2,000 career assists, passing the 2,000 mark on Tuesday against Radford. With 2,039 assists, she needs 26 assists to pass Jule Sitler (1985-88) into eighth all-time at Liberty for career assists.

4.   Also on Tuesday, Margaret Latchford became the fifth player in program history to surpass the 800-dig mark as a sophomore. With 808 career digs, Latchford has a chance to pass Kelly Haseman (2008-11) for the most digs at Liberty in a player's first two years.

5.   Liberty served up a season-high 12 aces last 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.

6.   Four Lady Flames - Leah Clayton (21), Gabrielle Vess (16), Sirena Vorster (12) and Anna Gragg (11) - reached double figures in kills, Oct. 22 at Gardner-Webb. It marked the first time since Sept. 20, 2014 that four Lady Flames scored 10+ kills in one match.

7.   Six out of Liberty's 11 conference matches so far, including a 3-2 win at UNC Asheville on Sept. 30, has gone five sets. The Lady Flames have already tied the 1996, 2001 and 2011 teams for the most five-set matches in conference play in a single season.

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.

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.

Keeping it Going (24 at CSU, 22 at Winthrop, 21 at GWU, 25 vs. Radford)
Leah Clayton recorded her fourth straight 20-kill match on Tuesday against Radford, scoring a career-high 25 kills to go with 18 digs for her ninth career double-double. Clayton's 25 kills are tied for the most ever by a Lady Flame in a four-set match under the current 25-point rally-scoring format (Lillie Happel vs. Seton Hall, Sept. 2, 2011).

The program rally-scoring record for consecutive 20-kill matches is five, held by Jennifer Belk (2004) and Caroline Douglas (2014).

4X10
Last 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 and Gabrielle Vess have both scored in double figures in kills in each of the last seven matches. During that span, Clayton averaged 4.71 kills per set and Vess averaged 2.71 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 span.

Serving Up Aces
Liberty served up a season-high 12 aces last 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.

Blocking the Way
Liberty posted 16 blocks in a 3-2 victory at Charleston Southern on Oct. 15. It was Liberty's fourth 15-block match of the season. The only other time in rally-scoring history that the Lady Flames recorded four 15-block matches in the same season was 2006.

For the season, Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 50th nationally with 2.44 blocks per set, while the team's .167 opponents' hitting percentage is ranked 36th in the nation.

Sirena Vorster is ranked second in the Big South with 1.07 blocks per set, while Anna Gragg is third with 1.05 blocks per set. Also efficient on offense, Gragg (.304) and Vorster (.269) rank second and eighth, respectively, in the Big South in hitting percentage.

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

With 808 career digs, Margaret Latchford has already collected the fourth-most digs through two seasons in program history. Program record holder Kelly Haseman (2008-11) holds the record for most digs in her first two seasons at Liberty, with 867.

2,000 Club
Anna Willey is ranked second in the Big South with 9.64 assists per set, dishing out four 50-assist matches in Liberty's last five contests.

On Tuesday, she became the ninth player in program history with 2,000 career assists. At 2,039, she needs 26 assists to pass Julie Sitler (1985-88) into eighth place.

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. UNC Asheville
Series Record:
Liberty leads all-time series, 38-22
Current Series Streak: Liberty W1
Last Meeting: Liberty 3, UNC Asheville 2 (Sept. 30, 2016 - Asheville, N.C.)
Last UNC Asheville Victory: UNC Asheville 3, Liberty 1 (Nov. 13, 2015 - Asheville, N.C.)
UNC Asheville Head Coach: Frederico Santos
Coaching Record at UNC Asheville: 78-94 (9th Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 235-173 (13th Year)

UNC Asheville (11-11, 5-6 Big South) began the conference schedule with four straight losses, before going 5-2 in its next seven matches. The Bulldogs play at conference-leading Radford, Friday. UNC Asheville is ranked third in the Big South with 1.48 aces per set.

Cara Guthrie is ranked third in the Big South with 3.15 kills per set, and her 0.33 aces per set rank eighth. Shelby Erickson averages 2.72 kills per set, good for seventh in the conference. Madison Vaughn ranks third in the Big South with a .304 hitting percentage, while Madisen Zyburt is fifth in digs per set, at 4.05.

Series History
Liberty leads UNC Asheville, 38-22, in the all-time series, including 19-11 under Shane Pinder. These two teams split the season series in both 2014 and 2015. Liberty is 12-3 in the last 15 matchups overall.

The Lady Flames hold a 7-3 lead all-time in conference tournament matches against UNC Asheville, last eliminating the Bulldogs in the 2013 Big South quarterfinals.

Last Meeting
UNC Asheville won sets one and two against Liberty on Sept. 30, 2016, and appeared on the way to a sweep, leading set three, 19-16, before the Lady Flames made a furious comeback to win in five sets. That victory started Liberty's eight-match winning streak.

Leah Clayton led Liberty with 18 kills, while UNC Asheville's Cara Guthrie scored a match-high 22 kills.

Home Cooking
Liberty has been historically dominant at home, as the Lady Flames are 85-18 (.825) in home matches since the start of the 2007 season. The team has gone 5-2 in the Vines Center this season, and Liberty is 41-9 in its last 50 contests at the Vines Center. Under 13th-year Head Coach Shane Pinder, Liberty is 98-32 (.753) at home, including 72-18 (.800) against Big South teams.