Complete Match Notes Liberty (10-16, 7-6 Big South) will play its final three regular-season matches on the road, beginning on Friday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames take on Presbyterian (6-21, 2-10) at the Templeton Center in Clinton, S.C. Liberty enters the weekend in a tie for fourth place in the Big South standings, while PC is in eighth.
The Lady Flames rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat PC, Sept. 23 at the Vines Center. Liberty is 16-1 all-time against the Blue Hose, having won the last 13 meetings in a row.
Starting Rotation 1. Liberty has had success on the road in conference play, going 3-2 in Big South away matches. The Lady Flames have posted road wins at Radford, Winthrop and Charleston Southern. Liberty hit a season-best .333 in a 3-0 sweep at Winthrop on Oct. 20.
2. Junior libero Margaret Latchford leaped all the way from 15th to 12th place in program history last weekend. With 1,263 career digs, Latchford needs 12 digs to pass Theresa Passamani (2000-03) for 11th place in program history.
3. Anna Gragg ranks second in the Big South with a .346 hitting percentage in conference play. She has posted nine double-digit kill matches in Big South matches this season.
4. Amaya Williams has been named Big South Freshman of the Week twice this season. She leads all Big South freshman setters with 8.71 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 eight matches, since Casey Goodwin switched to outside hitter from the right side, Liberty has averaged 12.83 kills per set while outhitting opponents, .210-.171. 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 248-192. He is ranked second all-time among all Big South volleyball coaches in both overall wins and conference victories (142).
7. Liberty is one of five teams to wrap up their spots in the six-team Big South Volleyball Championship, along with High Point, Radford, Campbell and UNC Asheville.
All-Time Series: Liberty leads, 16-1 Current Streak: Liberty W13 Last Meeting: Liberty 3, Presbyterian 2 (Sept. 23, 2017 – Lynchburg, Va.) Last Presbyterian Win: Presbyterian 3, Liberty 2 (Nov. 8, 2008 – Clinton, S.C.)
Presbyterian (5-21, 2-10 Big South) opened up conference play with a 3-1 win over Charleston Southern on Sept. 19. PC snapped a six-match losing streak, sweeping South Carolina State on Tuesday. For the season, the Blue Hose lead the Big South with 16.17 digs per set. Both Liberty and Presbyterian have posted 3-1 wins over their only common non-conference opponent, Morgan State.
Daley Gosnell is ranked second in the Big South in digs per set both overall (5.00) and in conference play (5.23). Erin Eulitz ranks seventh in the conference with 2.93 kills per set and with 3.28 points per set, while Allie Wright is eighth in points per set (3.26). Megan Jones sits fourth in the Big South in aces per set (0.41).
Series History Liberty holds a 16-1 record in the all-time series against Presbyterian College, and the Lady Flames have won each of the last 13 meetings. The Blue Hose posted their only win over Liberty on Nov. 8, 2008 in Clinton, S.C., a 3-2 victory. Of Liberty's wins in the series, 11 have been sweeps, two have come in four sets and three in five sets. Two out of the last three meetings in the series have resulted in 3-2 Liberty victories.
Last Meeting On Sept. 23 at the Vines Center, Liberty trailed the Blue Hose, 2-1 in the match, and 21-16 in set four, before the Lady Flames went on a 9-1 run to win, 25-22. The Lady Flames then completed the comeback with a 15-8 set-five victory. Anna Gragg recorded a career-high 19 kills at a .514 pace, while Casey Goodwin scored 15 kills and Sirena Vorster sent down 14 kills. Sydney De Jong led PC with 18 kills.
Chasing History With a 248-192 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 142-59 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 both opponents' hitting percentage (.202) and blocks per set (2.10). Anna Gragg ranks second in hitting percentage (.346) and third in blocks per set (0.88) in league play, while Sirena Vorster sits fourth in blocks per set (0.86) and sixth in hitting percentage (.323). Amaya Williams is fourth with 8.71 assists per set.
Conference Tournament Picture With two weekends left in conference play, five out of the six spots in the Big South Volleyball Championship have been claimed. High Point has sealed a top-two seed and bye, while Radford, Campbell, Liberty and UNC Asheville have claimed places in the tournament. Sixth-place Winthrop is nearing a berth as well.
Outside Change Last Saturday against Campbell, 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 seven times out of eight 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. She is now ranked 12th in program history with 1,263 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 last 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.
Stopped Cold Liberty has turned up its defense lately, holding opponents to a .152 hitting percentage during a six-match stretch, where the Lady Flames are 4-2. Twice during that span, Liberty held its opponent under .100 hitting.
On Oct. 20 at Winthrop, Liberty held the Eagles to a season opponents' low .041 hitting percentage, before Gardner-Webb hit just .083 at Liberty on Oct. 27.
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 are the most by a Big South setter in any match this year.
Williams ranks fourth in the conference with 8.71 assists per set during Big South play, which is first among freshman setters.
Block Party Liberty posted 10 blocks last 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 2.15 blocks per set.
Middle of it All Sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg has gotten off to a strong start to conference play, hitting .346 while averaging 2.86 kills per set in Big South matches.
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 an all-conference honorable mention middle blocker in 2016, averages 1.84 kills per set while hitting .323 in conference play.
Two-Line Note This is the first time since 2004 (four) that Liberty will finish the regular season with three or more away matches in a row.