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Liberty Volleyball to Host Winthrop, CSU, this Weekend

October 12, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Volleyball to Host Winthrop, CSU, this Weekend

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (6-13, 3-3 Big South) returns home for a pair of matches in the Vines Center, hosting Winthrop (12-8, 3-3) on Friday at 7 p.m. before taking on Charleston Southern (7-13, 2-4), Saturday at 2 p.m. Liberty and Winthrop are currently tied for fourth in the Big South, while CSU sits seventh in the conference standings entering the weekend.

Liberty is 31-18 all-time in volleyball against Winthrop, having won the last four meetings. The Lady Flames lead CSU, 39-5, in the all-time series.

Starting Rotation
1. The Lady Flames have won the blocking battle each of the last three matches. So far this season, Liberty has outblocked such opponents as Villanova, Virginia, Hofstra, VCU (3rd nationally in blocks per set), Air Force, Radford and High Point.

2. Casey Goodwin averaged 3.00 kills per set and 1.62 blocks per set last week. She posted a career-high seven blocks at Radford and scored 13 kills while hitting .480 at Campbell. 

3. Junior libero Margaret Latchford surpassed 1,100 career digs, Oct 3 at Radford. She currently ranks 16th in program history with 1,134 career digs.

4. The Lady Flames will play Winthrop and Charleston Southern on back-to-back weekends, playing at Winthrop next Friday before competing at CSU, Saturday. Liberty will have played High Point, Winthrop and CSU twice each before facing Gardner-Webb once.

5. Liberty is 3-0 in Big South matches this season when the contest goes to five sets. The Lady Flames' current senior class is 12-3 in conference regular-season five-set matches.

6. Shane Pinder, in his 14th season as Liberty's head coach, is the program's all-time winningest coach, at 244-189. He is ranked second all-time among all Big South volleyball coaches in both overall wins and conference victories (138). 

7. The Lady Flames were predicted to finish third in the Big South Preseason Coaches' Poll. Additionally, senior setter Anna Willey and sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg were voted to the Preseason All-Big South team.

Liberty vs. Winthrop (Liberty leads series, 31-18) (Series streak: Liberty W4)

Similarly to Liberty, Winthrop (12-8, 3-3 Big South) has dropped its last two matches after starting Big South play at 3-1. The Eagles lead the conference with 17.86 digs per set during conference play. Overall, Siani Yamaguchi averages a league-best 9.99 assists per set. Keaupono Fey ranks second in the Big South in hitting percentage (.371) and fourth in blocks per set (1.00). Carlie Skelton is ranked fifth in the league with 4.34 digs per set.

Liberty is 31-18 all-time against Winthrop, winning the last four meetings. Three out of the last five meetings have gone five sets. Winthrop's last win over Liberty was Oct. 26, 2013 in Rock Hill, S.C., a 3-2 victory. The last Winthrop win in the Vines Center was Oct. 1, 2010, a 3-1 Eagles win.

On Oct. 8, 2016 in the Vines Center, the Lady Flames led Winthrop, 2-0, before the Eagles rallied to force a fifth set. Liberty won set five, 15-12. Leah Clayton led all players with 22 kills. Liberty then defeated Winthrop, 3-1, on Oct. 21 at Winthrop Coliseum. Clayton scored 22 kills for Liberty, while Emma Weakland sent down 21 kills to lead the Eagles.

Liberty vs. CSU (Liberty leads series, 39-5) (Series streak: CSU W1)

Charleston Southern (7-13, 2-4) has lost its last two matches, at home to Campbell and at UNC Asheville. The Buccaneers lead the Big South with 2.30 blocks per set during conference play, while ranking second overall with 16.01 digs per set.

2016 Big South All-Conference first-team libero Madison Martin is ranked third in the league with 4.60 digs per set, while freshman Kalysia Bates is second in the Big South at 1.03 blocks per set. Rachel Smith (9.00) is ranked fourth in the conference in assists per set, while Kylie Klein is seventh in hitting percentage at .292.

Liberty is 39-5 all-time against Charleston Southern, including 21-2 under Pinder. The Lady Flames won 16 straight meetings before Charleston Southern's 3-2 win at Liberty to end the 2016 regular season.

Liberty rallied from a 2-1 deficit and fought back from a 10-8, set-five hole to give Charleston Southern its first league loss of 2016, 3-2 on Oct. 15, 2016 at the Buc Dome.

CSU then defeated Liberty in five sets, Nov. 12 at LCA Gymnasium, the Buccaneers' first win in Lynchburg since the 1995 season.

3-2, 3-2, 3-2
Liberty posted three straight five-set wins for the first time in program history, over PC (Sept. 23), UNC Asheville (Sept. 30) and Radford (Oct. 3). There have been five five-set matches in Big South play this season, and Liberty has been involved in three of them.

The Lady Flames have hit outhit Big South opponents a combined .312 (30-10-64) to .057 (13-9-69) in fifth sets.

In fact, dating back to last season, five out of Liberty's last eight matches against conference opponents have gone five sets.

Early Returns
Six matches into Big South play, Anna Gragg (.414) ranks second in the Big South in hitting percentage, while Casey Goodwin is ranked second with 1.08 blocks per set. Sirena Vorster ranks third in the Big South with a .368 hitting percentage.

Offense and Defense
Casey Goodwin scored 11 kills and added a career-high seven blocks, last Tuesday at Radford, and then contributed 13 kills (.480) and six blocks at Campbell on Friday. She is the first Lady Flame since Loren Thomas, Oct. 28 through Nov. 4, 2011, to post back-to-back matches with 10 or more kills and six or more blocks in each match. Thomas' efforts also came against Radford and Campbell.

Middle of it All
Sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg has gotten off to a strong start to conference play, hitting .414 while averaging 2.88 kills per set in Big South matches. She scored 19 kills on Sept. 23 against Presbyterian and had 18 kills on Sept. 30 versus UNC Asheville.

Gragg was the first Liberty middle blocker since Erin McKeown in Nov. 2002 with consecutive 18+-kill matches. McKeown went for 18 or more kills in four straight matches.

Gragg reached double-figures in kills in five consecutive matches, Sept. 16 through Oct. 3. She is the first Liberty middle blocker since Kendle Rollins in 2010 with five straight 10-kill contests.

In each of its first two conference matches, Liberty had two middle blockers in double-digits in kills. Kainah Williams and Gragg both went for 11 kills on Sept. 19 against High Point. Then, on Sept 23 versus PC, Gragg scored 19 kills and Sirena Vorster, 14.

Milestones Reached
Junior Margaret Latchford collected her 1,000th career dig against VCU, Sept. 12. She currently ranks 16th in program history with 1,134 career digs. Up next on the list is Jessica Nelson (2004-05, 07-08), who collected 1,178 digs.

Block Party
Last Tuesday at Radford, Liberty posted 10 blocks, its fifth 10-block match of the season. Casey Goodwin totaled a career-high seven blocks (one solo, six assisted), while Sirena Vorster posted five block assists. The Lady Flames then added 11 blocks on Friday at Campbell, getting six blocks from Goodwin and five each from Vorster and Anna Gragg.

A year after leading the Big South with 2.45 blocks per set, Liberty has picked up its net defense where it left off, ranking second in the conference with 2.18 blocks per set.

Last Tuesday at Radford, Amaya Williams posted her team-leading sixth double-double of the season, while Gabrielle Vess recorded her fourth double-double of 2017.

Williams, making her first start on Aug. 26 against Virginia, registered a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs. She is the first Liberty freshman since Lillie Happel (Aug. 27, 2010 vs. Cleveland State) to record a double-double in her first start.

Senior Anna Willey is Liberty's active career leader in double-doubles with 28.

Team Effort
During a Sept. 23 win over PC, Anna Gragg led with a career-high 19 kills (.514), while Casey Goodwin scored 15 kills (.536), Sirena Vorster had 14 kills (.542) and Gabrielle Vess added 13 kills. The Lady Flames scored a Vines Center 25-point-rally-scoring-record 73 kills. It was the first time since Nov. 2, 2007 at PC that four Lady Flames posted 13 or more kills. It was also the first time in rally-scoring history (since 2001) that three Lady Flames hit .500 or better, with 12 or more kills, in the same match.

Sept. 23 was the first time this season that five Lady Flames reached double-digits in digs. Margaret Latchford collected 21 digs, while Kaitlyn Young collected a career-high 17 digs, Amaya Williams registered 12 digs, Gabrielle Vess had 11 and Victoria Baptista, 10.

Freshman Amaya Williams recorded a career-high 59 assists, Sept. 23 against PC.

Williams is one of three current Liberty setters with at least one career 50+-assist match. Anna Willey has posted 12 career 50-assist matches, with a career high of 63 assists. Sophomore Hannah Morris has recorded one career 50-assist contest, with a career high of 51 assists. This is the first time in rally-scoring history (since 2001) that three active Liberty players have at least one career 50-assist match to their credit.