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Lady Flames Head to Gardner-Webb Saturday

October 31, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Chelaine McCarty goes up for a kill during last Friday's victory over Coastal Carolina.

Chelaine McCarty goes up for a kill during last Friday's victory over Coastal Carolina.

The Liberty volleyball team, tied with High Point for first place in the Big South Conference standings, will open the month of November with four consecutive road matches. Boiling Springs, N.C., will be the Lady Flames' first destination, as Liberty is slated to play at Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon, for the first time in program history.

With just five regular-season matches remaining on the schedule, the Lady Flames will attempt to carry over their momentum from the month of October. Liberty went 8-1 in October, with all eight victories coming via 3-0 sweeps.

The Match
Saturday, Nov. 1 (Paul Porter Arena)
2 p.m. – Liberty (19-6, 10-1 Big South) at Gardner-Webb (5-19, 3-7 Big South)

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Neither live streaming video nor live stats will be available for Saturday's contest. Watch for a full recap of the Liberty-Gardner-Webb match, late Saturday afternoon.

A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (78-74 in his fifth season), recorded back-to-back 3-0 sweeps of conference foes Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern, last weekend at the Vines Center. The pair of victories came despite team kills leader Nicki Scripko sitting out both matches, due to injury.

In Scripko's absence, outside hitters Karyl Bacon and Jessica Nelson shone. Both players fashioned double-doubles in Liberty's triumph over Coastal Carolina on Oct. 24. Then, Nelson hit .429 with a season-high and match-high 15 kills, sparking the Lady Flames past Charleston Southern the following afternoon.

1,000/1,000 Club
Nelson, a senior, also reached a personal milestone versus the Buccaneers last Saturday. During the opening set of Liberty's 3-0 win, she notched her 1,000th career kill. Nelson finished the match with 1,011 kills and 1,051 digs during her time with the Lady Flames.

Nelson became the first Lady Flame to tally more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs since current assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden, who graduated in 2004.

3,500/1,000 Club
Junior setter Kallie Corbin is attempting to make some history of her own. She has notched 3,583 career assists and 986 career digs. No Liberty player has ever tallied more than 3,500 assists and 1,000 digs during her career.

Big South Player of the Week
As a result of her play during Liberty's 3-0 week, Corbin was honored as the Big South Conference Choice Hotels Volleyball Player of the Week on Monday. Last week, she recorded at least 33 assists in all three Lady Flames matches, helping the team hit .312 for the week. Corbin also contributed 13 kills, six aces, 22 digs and six blocks. The award is her first of the season and the fifth of her career.

Corbin became the third different Lady Flame to be named Big South Volleyball Player of the Week in 2008, a claim no other conference team can make. Scripko was recognized on Sept. 29, and junior middle blocker garnered the conference's weekly honor on Oct. 13.

Eight Blocks is Enough
When Liberty has blocked well this season, the Lady Flames have won. In fact, Liberty is 12-0 when recording eight or more rejections. Conversely, the Lady Flames are only 7-6 when failing to reach the eight-block plateau.

One Win Away from 20
Liberty needs one more victory to wrap up its second consecutive 20-win campaign. Last season, the Lady Flames went 27-9, setting a program record for wins during the NCAA Division I era. Liberty has not posted back-to-back 20-win seasons since 1996 through 1999, when the Lady Flames did so for four seasons in a row.

RPI Update
In the latest RPI computer rankings, released on Tuesday, Liberty is listed No. 80 out of 329 NCAA Division I volleyball programs. The Lady Flames are the top-ranked team in the Big South, as Coastal Carolina is next at No. 132 and conference co-leader High Point is ranked No. 148.

Road Warriors
As mentioned above, Liberty will play its next four matches away from the Vines Center. The Lady Flames have excelled in road matches this season, going 6-2. Liberty is 4-0 in road Big South contests and has won eight straight conference matches away from home, dating back to the 2007 season.

An Ace Up Their Sleeve
Aggressive serving and solid serve reception played key roles in Liberty's successful month of October. The Lady Flames recorded more service aces than their opponents in all nine matches during the month, totaling 60 aces to their opponents' 22. Corbin served up 15 aces of her own, pacing Liberty players during the stretch.

Big South's Best
Four Liberty players are ranked among the top five on the Big South statistical leaderboard. McCarty leads the conference (and ranks No. 48 nationally) in attack percentage (.359), while position mate Webber sits third in blocks per set (0.87 bps). Corbin is listed second in assists per set (10.05 aps) and fourth in aces per set (0.36 aps), while sophomore Scripko is ranked third in service aces per set (0.37 aps) and fourth in kills per set (3.49 kps).

Numerous Lady Flames have increased their statistical production in Big South matches. McCarty also leads Big South players in attack percentage in conference-only contests (.386) and resides in fifth place in blocks per set (0.83 bps), while Webber sits third in blocks per set (0.94 bps). In Big South matches only, Corbin leads the conference in assists per set (10.86 aps) and is second in service aces per set (0.53 aps). Meanwhile, Scripko ranks second in kills per set (3.87 kps) and fifth in aces per set (0.43 aps).

Scouting Report
Gardner-Webb – 5-19 overall, 3-7 Big South
Gardner-Webb, in its first year as a Big South Conference member, is coached by Chris Phillips. She is 42-79 in her fourth season as the Bulldogs' head coach and is 386-343 in 19 total seasons of collegiate head coaching. Phillips coached Liberty for 11 years (1992-97, 1999-2003), leading the Lady Flames to a trio of Big South titles.

The Bulldogs have won just one of their last nine matches. However, Gardner-Webb has been tough in home contests at Paul Porter Arena. The Bulldogs are 4-3 at home, including a victory over Winthrop in their first-ever home Big South tilt.

Gardner-Webb features one of the leading candidates for the Big South Freshman of the Year award, 6-0 middle blocker Laura Wilcox. A five-time Big South Freshman of the Week, Wilcox leads her squad in attack percentage (.224) and blocks (40), while sharing the team lead in kills (217).

The Bulldogs have also gotten solid play from senior libero Katie Matykowski, who has etched her name in the Gardner-Webb record book several times. She is the program's career record holder for both service aces (141) and digs (1,752).

Liberty is 2-0 all-time versus the Bulldogs, with both wins coming at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames swept Gardner-Webb, 3-0, Oct. 3 at the Vines Center. Scripko was the only player on either team to reach double figures in kills, tallying 10 on the evening. McCarty added nine kills and five blocks for Liberty. Meanwhile Heidi Steinebrunner's nine kills sparked the Bulldogs' attack.