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Lady Flames to Face Commonwealth Rival Radford in Home Finale, Tuesday

October 30, 2017  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames to Face Commonwealth Rival Radford in Home Finale, Tuesday

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (10-15, 7-5 Big South) closes out its regular-season home schedule against Commonwealth rival Radford (20-3, 10-2), Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames, winners of four of their last five matches, are tied for third in the Big South standings. Radford enters the match in second place, riding a seven-match winning streak.

The Lady Flames took the first meeting of the season, 3-2, on Oct. 3 at the Dedmon Center, snapping the Highlanders' 11-match home winning streak.

Starting Rotation
1. Liberty had its season-best four-match winning streak snapped in a tough, 3-2 setback to Campbell on Saturday. During its four-match winning streak, Liberty outhit opponents, .246-.110.

2. Junior libero Margaret Latchford leaped all the way from 15th to 12th place in program history last weekend, with 1,254 career digs. She has averaged 5.56 digs per set over the team's last five matches. Casey Goodwin averaged 4.08 kills per set during the span.

3. Gabrielle Vess posted back-to-back double-doubles last weekend, giving her a team-best eight double-doubles for the season.

4. Amaya Williams has been named Big South Freshman of the Week twice this season. She leads all Big South freshman setters with 8.87 assists per set in conference matches. Her 59 assists against PC, Sept. 23, were the most by a Big South setter this season.

5. In the last seven matches, since Casey Goodwin switched to outside hitter from the right side, Liberty has averaged 13.04 kills per set while outhitting opponents, .226-.158. Prior to the switch, Liberty averaged 11.55 kills per set, being outhit .223-.175.

6. Shane Pinder, in his 14th season as Liberty's head coach, is the program's all-time winningest coach, at 248-191. He is ranked second all-time among all Big South volleyball coaches in both overall wins and conference victories (142). 

7. Liberty currently sits in a tie for third in the Big South standings with Campbell at 7-5. High Point leads at 13-0, followed in second by Radford at 10-2.

Seniors Shine on Senior Night
Liberty pushed its winning streak to a season-high four matches, sweeping Gardner-Webb last Friday. The Lady Flames' three seniors stepped up on Senior Night. Gabrielle Vess tied for the team lead with 10 kills and added 11 digs. Anna Willey tied for the team lead with 17 assists, becoming the eighth player in program history to pass the 2,500 career assist mark. Sirena Vorster recorded a match-high five blocks.

Outside Change
On Saturday, Casey Goodwin tied her season high with 19 kills, while Gabrielle Vess posted her team-leading eighth double-double of the season with 15 kills and 18 digs. It was the first time this season that both of Liberty's outside hitters scored 15 or more kills in the same match.

Since Goodwin switched to outside hitter starting on Oct. 10 at High Point, Liberty's outside hitters have led the team in kills six times out of seven matches. In 18 matches prior to that, Liberty was led outright in kills by its outside hitter only three times.

Latchford Leaps to 12th Place in Program History
Junior Margaret Latchford collected her 1,000th career dig against VCU, Sept. 12. Last weekend, she leaped all the way from 15th to 12th in program history with 1,254 career digs. The next three players for her to pass are: Theresa Passamani (11th place: 2000-03; 1,274), Athena Sherwood (10th; 1996-99; 1,306) and Anthonia Akpama (9th; 1996-99; 1,312).

She collected 21 digs on Friday against Gardner-Webb, the most digs by a Lady Flame in a three-set match so far this season.

On the Attack
Liberty hit .159 as a team in non-conference matches this season. The Lady Flames have turned it on in conference play, hitting .218 as a team.

On Oct. 20 at Winthrop, Liberty hit a season-best .333. It was the team's highest hitting percentage in a Big South match since hitting .371 at Presbyterian, Oct. 23, 2015. Casey Goodwin led the way with 16 kills, including 10 kills during set three. She is the first Liberty player since Caroline Douglas against UNC Asheville in 2012 to score 10 kills in one set.  Liberty hit a sensational .520 (16-3-25) during the third set, a 25-10 win.

Williams Weekly Honors
Amaya Williams is one of four Big South freshmen to be named Big South Freshman of the Week exactly twice this season, earning the honor on Sept. 25 and Oct. 16.

She has posted two 50-assist matches this season, both in conference play, and her 59 assists against Presbyterian on Sept. 23 are the most by a Big South setter in any match this season.

Williams ranks fourth in the conference with 8.87 assists per set during Big South play, which is first among freshman setters.

Block Party
Liberty posted 10 blocks on Saturday against Campbell, the team's ninth double-digit-block match this season. Last year, the Lady Flames tied a program record with 14 double-digit-block contests.

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 2.19 blocks per set.

Middle of it All
Sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg has gotten off to a strong start to conference play, hitting .362 while averaging 2.88 kills per set in Big South matches. She has scored 19 kills in a conference match twice so far.

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.

Sirena Vorster, who along with Gragg was a Big South All-Conference honorable mention middle blocker in 2016, is averaging 1.86 kills per set while hitting .330 in conference play.

Liberty vs. Radford (Liberty leads all-time series, 45-32)
Current Series Streak: Liberty W1
Last Meeting: Liberty 3, Radford 2 (Oct. 3, 2017 - Radford, Va.)
Last Radford Victory: Radford 3, Liberty 1 (Oct. 25, 2016 - Lynchburg, Va.)

Radford (20-3, 10-2 Big South), has won seven straight matches since losing to Liberty, Oct. 3. The Highlanders picked up non-conference wins at Arizona, South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Radford leads the Big South in kills per set (13.45), hitting percentage (.251) and opponents' hitting percentage (.146, 5th nationally). 

2016 Big South Player of the Year Maddie Palmer ranks second in the Big South with 4.00 kills per set and 4.56 points per set. 2016 Big South All-Conference first-team setter Haley Kleespies leads the conference with 10.13 assists per set. Stephanie Neast ranks seventh in the Big South with a .288 hitting percentage.

Series History
Liberty holds a 45-32 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. Since the start of the 2013 season, the Highlanders have won seven out of 11 meetings with Liberty, including four straight before the Lady Flames' five-set win at Radford, Oct. 3, 2016.

Liberty (2007 through 2012) and Radford (2013-14, 2016) have combined to win nine out of the last 10 Big South regular-season titles.

Last Meeting     
On Oct. 3 at Radford, the Lady Flames snapped the Highlanders' 11-match home winning streak, picking up a 3-2 victory (25-22, 15-25, 25-22, 14-25, 15-10). Liberty scored the last five points in a row to win set five, 15-10.

Anna Gragg led Liberty with 14 kills, followed by Gabrielle Vess (12 kills) and Casey Goodwin (11 kills, seven blocks). Radford's Stephanie Neast scored a match-high 24 kills.

Chasing History
With a 248-191 career record in his 14th year as head coach, Shane Pinder needs two more wins to become the second Big South volleyball coach all-time with 250 career wins.

Pinder is 142-58 all-time in Big South regular-season matches. He needs three more conference wins to tie former UNC Asheville and Winthrop head coach Julie Torbett for the most career conference victories among any Big South volleyball coach.

Conference Report
During conference play, Liberty ranks third in the Big South in opponents' hitting percentage (.197) and first in blocks per set (2.17).

Anna Gragg ranks second in hitting percentage (.362) and third in blocks per set (0.90) in league play, while Sirena Vorster sits fourth in blocks per set (0.88) and fifth in hiitting percentage (.330). Amaya Williams is fourth with 8.87 assists per set.

Three in a Row
Liberty's 3-2 win at Radford on Oct. 3 was the team's third straight five-set win, the first time in program history that the Lady Flames won three five-set matches in a row.