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Liberty-Presbyterian Tilt Set for Friday

September 30, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty will play its first Big South road match of the season Friday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to Presbyterian.

Liberty will play its first Big South road match of the season Friday at 7 p.m., when the Lady Flames travel to Presbyterian.

The Liberty volleyball team, which opened Big South Conference play with victories over Winthrop and Coastal Carolina at the Vines Center, will now play its first conference road match of the season this Friday. The Lady Flames, currently tied with UNC Asheville for first place in the Big South, are scheduled to face Presbyterian at the Templeton Center, with match time slated for 7 p.m.

Lady Flames' Weekend Schedule
Clinton, S.C. (Templeton Center)

Friday, Oct. 2
7 p.m. – Liberty (7-7, 2-0 Big South) at Presbyterian (6-10, 1-1 Big South)

How to Follow the Lady Flames
For the first time, will provide a live blog throughout Friday evening's Liberty at Presbyterian match, from the Templeton Center. Liberty fans will be able to access score updates, stats, notes and much more, throughout the contest. Watch for the first blog entry to be posted, approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday.

A Look at Liberty
The Liberty Lady Flames, coached by Shane Pinder (91-84, six seasons), are one of two remaining unbeaten teams in Big South Conference action, after posting hard-fought wins over Winthrop and Coastal Carolina. The Winthrop contest went five sets, with the final stanza extending all the way to 27-25 before the Lady Flames came out on top. The following day, Liberty came from behind to record a 3-1 victory over the Chanticleers, in a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Big South preseason coaches poll.

Leading the way were starting middle blockers Chelaine McCarty and Loren Thomas, who each earned conference recognition. McCarty, a senior from Houston, Ala., was voted Big South Player of the Week and a Top Performer, after leading the Lady Flames in kills (37) and attack percentage (.462) over the weekend. Meanwhile, Thomas became Liberty's first Big South Freshman of the Week since Nicki Scripko on Oct. 29, 2007. She paced the team with 12 blocks.

Other team leaders for the weekend included senior setter Kallie Corbin (98 assists), redshirt junior right-side hitter Kirstyn Sanders (three aces) and sophomore libero Kelly Haseman (46 digs).

Opening with a Bang
After holding off Winthrop in five sets on Friday, Liberty has won five straight Big South openers and 11 of their last 12 conference lid-lifters. Last season, the Lady Flames began conference play with six straight victories.

Outstanding in October
Friday night's match at Presbyterian will be the first of 11 October contests for the Lady Flames. Liberty has been very tough to beat during the month of October, the past two seasons. The Lady Flames are 18-1 during the last two Octobers, with all 18 wins being 3-0 sweeps.

Seeking a Road Win
The Lady Flames enter Friday's contest at Presbyterian in search of their first road win of 2009. Liberty is 0-3 thus far in road contests, dropping matches at Virginia Tech, Louisville and Wake Forest. Last season, the Lady Flames went 9-5 in road tilts.

Milestone Watch
Just 14 matches into her junior season, junior outside hitter Nicki Scripko is already nearing the 1,000-kill mark for her career. The outside hitter will begin the Presbyterian tilt with 977 career kills, leaving her just 23 shy of the milestone.

Meanwhile, Corbin continues to climb up the Lady Flames' all-time assist list. She now ranks third in program history with 4,354 assists, after passing Kristin Colson during Saturday's match against Coastal Carolina. Corbin now needs 520 more assists to break Michelle Howland's Liberty record.

Marathon Set
The fifth set between Liberty and Winthrop Friday evening turned into an epic battle between the two teams which have combined to win the last eight Big South titles. The stanza lasted 30 minutes and included 17 ties. The Lady Flames earned 13 match points, before finally winning 27-25 on a Winthrop ball-handling error.

No official NCAA records for longest fifth set are maintained. However, it is known that Friday's final stanza was the Lady Flames' longest since rally scoring was instituted in 2001.

Masterful McCarty
McCarty enjoyed one of the best performances of her career, Saturday versus Coastal Carolina. She hit .559 with a career-high 22 kills and a season-high eight blocks. In the process, McCarty became the first Liberty middle blocker to tally 20 kills in a match since Becky Rudnick had 20 against Winthrop on Nov. 20, 2004.

McCarty has now hit .300 or higher in six straight matches and in 11 of 14 contests this season. During the past two years combined, McCarty has posted a .300 attack percentage 75 percent of the time (36 times in 48 matches).

Aces are Wild
Liberty has served for at least one ace in 128 consecutive matches. The streak started Oct. 7, 2005 at Charleston Southern, before any of the current Lady Flames players were on the roster. McCarty leads the team with 14 aces this season.

Conference Leaders
Entering the week, Liberty leads the Big South Conference in a pair of offensive categories. The Lady Flames sit atop the list for both assists (11.87 aps) and kills (12.71 kps).

Individually, Lady Flames lead three out of six Big South statistical categories. McCarty is currently listed No. 1 in hitting percentage (.358), Scripko remains atop the kills list (4.17 kps) and Corbin has returned to the top spot in assists (10.02 aps).

NCAA National Rankings
Scripko is not only the Big South leader in kills, but the junior is ranked among the nation's top 35 players in a pair of statistical categories. She currently sits No. 27 in kills (4.17 kps) and No. 33 in points (4.63 pps).

The Big South Beat
In addition to Liberty, two other conference teams made it through the first week of Big South play without a loss—UNC Asheville (2-0) and Charleston Southern (1-0). (However, CSU lost its first conference match Tuesday, 3-0 to Winthrop.)

UNC Asheville improved to a Big South-best 13-5 overall and 2-0 in the conference, after winning a 3-1 home match against Gardner-Webb and a 3-2 road contest at Radford. Led by three-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week Raquel Miotto and two-time Big South Player of the Week Lauren Ficker, the Bulldogs are off to a 2-0 start in conference play for the first time since 2006.

Meanwhile, the Lady Buccaneers entered the week as the owners of a six-match winning streak. Four of those victories came in 3-0 sweeps, including CSU's Big South-opening triumph over Presbyterian on Saturday.

Scouting Report
The Presbyterian Blue Hose are coached by Chris Belshe, who is 48-69 in his fourth season at the helm. The Blue Hose, who are eligible for the Big South regular-season title but will not compete in the Big South Volleyball Championship, were picked to finish sixth in the preseason Big South coaches poll.

Friday's match will be only the second home contest of the season for Presbyterian, which has played 15 of its first 16 matches away from Clinton. The Blue Hose swept USC Upstate in their home opener on Sept. 22.

Redshirt junior setter Kilee Ruppe has done a nice job of directing the offense, after transferring from Newberry. She ranks second in the Big South with 9.88 aps. Her two favorite targets have been junior outside hitter Lisa Shelley, a South Carolina transfer, and freshman outside hitter Presley Mabrey. Shelley sits sixth in the conference with 3.16 kps, while Mabrey is eighth with 2.93 kps.

Liberty is 3-1 all-time versus the Blue Hose, but Presbyterian won the teams' most recent meeting, 3-2, Nov. 8, 2008 in Clinton, S.C. Corbin, playing outside hitter, led the Lady Flames with 16 kills, eight digs and three aces. Meanwhile, Shelley starred for the victors, hitting .353 with 18 kills and 14 digs.