Liberty volleyball has won four out of its last five matches, and plays at Presbyterian College and Winthrop this weekend.
Liberty Volleyball Match Notes Liberty (5-15, 4-3 Big South), winner of two straight matches, and four out of its last five, competes at Presbyterian College (7-15, 5-2) on Friday before a match at Winthrop (11-10, 2-5), Saturday. PC will host the 2013 Big South Volleyball Championship. Presbyterian College (7-15, 5-2) enters the weekend tied for first in the Big South with Radford. PC is one-half match ahead of Gardner-Webb in the conference standings and one match ahead of Liberty, Coastal Carolina and High Point.
Liberty at a Glance Liberty swept both Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina at home, last Friday and Saturday, outhitting those two opponents, .271-.112. On Friday against CSU, Nzea McQuitery and Lillie Happel both recorded 12 kills. During Saturday's win, Jade Craycraft recorded a triple-double, and Caroline Douglas scored a season-high 11 kills. Liberty head coach Shane Pinder picked up his 100th career Big South win, Saturday against Coastal. During conference play, the Lady Flames rank second in the Big South in both hitting percentage (.229) and opponents' hitting percentage.
How to Follow the Lady Flames Live stats and live video will be available for both of this weekend's matches, through links on LibertyFlames.com. Live stats will appear courtesy of the respective athletics communications offices of Presbyterian College and Winthrop. Each of the week's matches can be viewed through free live video streaming via the Big South Network.
Big Weekend For the first time this season, the Lady Flames recorded back-to-back 3-0 sweeps, downing Charleston Southern, Friday before beating Coastal Carolina, Saturday. Liberty has now won four out of its last five matches, and is one match out of first place in the Big South.
Triple-Double in Progress Senior setter Jade Craycraft recorded her third triple-double of the season, and fourth of her career, on Saturday against Coastal Carolina, with 10 kills, 30 assists and 11 digs. Among Lady Flames since the start of the 2001 season, only Kallie Corbin (2006-09) posted more career triple-doubles than Craycraft, with six. Craycraft remains the only Big South player with a triple-double this season. Also on Saturday, Craycraft passed Laura Miller (1990-92) into fifth place in program history with 3,831 career assists.
Welcome Back Redshirt sophomore Caroline Douglas, the 2012 Big South Player and Freshman of the Year, missed all but one of Liberty's first 19 matches this season due to injury. On Saturday, she returned in a big way, scoring a match-high 11 kills at a .364 pace to help the Lady Flames to a 3-0 sweep of visiting Coastal Carolina.
Double 12's On Friday against Charleston Southern, senior Lillie Happel and freshman Nzea McQuitery tied for the match high with 12 kills. McQuitery set a new career high versus the Buccaneers, while Happel recorded a double-double and drew closer to the top 10 on the program's career kills list. Happel is currently ranked 12th in program history with 1,133 career kills. Happel's former teammate, Karyl Bacon (2007-10) is ranked 11th all-time at Liberty with 1,155 career kills, while current Liberty assistant coach Rebecca Rudnick is 10th, with 1,164 kills. Jennifer (Belk) Vaden, Liberty assistant coach, sits in third with 1,789 career kills.
Closing In A pair of Lady Flames is closing in on the 1,000-career dig milestone. Gabrielle Shipe has collected 985 career digs, while Lillie Happel has posted 919 digs. Shipe needs 15 more to become the 19th player in program history to reach 1,000 career digs. Happel has already reached 1,000 career kills, and needs 81 more digs to become the 12th member of Liberty's 1,000/1,000 club. The last Lady Flame to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs was Karyl Bacon (2007-10), who finished with 1,115 kills and 1,472 digs.
Last Five After posting a 1-14 record to open the 2013 campaign, Liberty has gone 4-1 in its last five matches. During the last five contests, Liberty is outhitting opponents, .251-.136.
Own the Net Freshman Nzea McQuitery ranks second with 1.12 blocks per set during Big South matches, while redshirt senior Kendle Rollins is seventh with 0.95 blocks per set overall. Rollins is ranked fifth in program history with 371 career blocks. Rollins needs 29 more blocks to become the 17th player in Big South history with 400 blocks. Jade Craycraft, with 270 career blocks, holds Liberty's record for most blocks by a primary setter.
Fire Away The Lady Flames are second in the Big South in both hitting percentage (.229) and opponents' hitting percentage (.163) during conference play. In league matches, Liberty's Kendle Rollins (.344) and Jade Craycraft (.343) are second and third, respectively, in the Big South in attack percentage.
Serving Up Aces This past weekend, Liberty averaged 1.83 aces per set in wins over Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina. Lillie Happel and Gabrielle Shipe led the way with three aces apiece, while Kendle Rollins chipped in two aces. Liberty vs. Presbyterian College Conference co-leader Presbyterian College (7-15, 5-2 Big South) will play its first home match since Oct. 4, on Friday. The Blue Hose are 3-1 so far at the Templeton Center this season. Reigning Big South Defensive Player of the Week Mary Trimpe leads the Big South and ranks in the top 20 nationally in digs per set (5.62) and aces per set (0.48). Rachel Hall paces the Blue Hose with 2.77 kills per set, while Kelly Berryman has a team-best 74 blocks and Ashtin Frank averages 9.16 assists per set. First-year head coach Korrinn Burgess is in her second year as a collegiate head coach, after coaching Spartanburg Methodist to a 17-14 record in 2012. Liberty holds a 10-1 record in the all-time series against Presbyterian College, and the Lady Flames have won each of the last seven meetings. The Blue Hose posted their only win over Liberty on Nov. 8, 2008 in Clinton, S.C., a 3-2 victory. Last season, Liberty posted a pair of victories over the Blue Hose. The Lady Flames swept PC, Oct. 19, 2012, at the Vines Center in a battle of conference leaders. Liberty then beat the Blue Hose, 3-0, in the 2012 Big South Volleyball Championship semifinal.
Liberty vs. Winthrop Winthrop (11-10, 2-5 Big South) swept Gardner-Webb, Oct. 12, for its most recent win. The Eagles have not played a match at Winthrop Coliseum, where the team is 7-2, since Sept. 28. Winthrop leads the Big South with 13.09 kills per set overall. Jessie Vicic paces the Big South and ranks 19th in the country with 11.37 assists per set. Irene Ojukwu (3.29 kills per set) ranks fourth in the conference in kills, while Rachel Lenz is ranked third in the Big South with 1.02 blocks per set. First-year head coach Bruce Atkinson is 144-52 in seven years as a collegiate coach, which includes three-year stints at Hawaii Hilo (2007-09) and Towson (2010-12). Liberty is 27-17 all-time against Winthrop, and has won the most recent three meetings. Starting in the 2001 season, Liberty (2001, 07-08, 11-12) and Winthrop (2002-06) have combined to win 10 out of the last 12 Big South Volleyball Championships, with each program claiming five titles during that span. The Lady Flames outhit Winthrop, .383-.308, during the teams' last meeting, a 3-0 Liberty sweep on Oct. 20, 2012 at the Vines Center. With that win, Liberty set a new program record with 19 straight conference home wins.
Tight Race Midway through the conference slate, the Big South standings are tightly packed, with one match separating the top six teams. Radford and Presbyterian College are tied for the league lead with 5-2 Big South records. Gardner-Webb is in third, at 4-2, while Liberty, Coastal Carolina and High Point are all tied for fourth at 4-3. With eight teams qualifying for the tournament, Winthrop (2-5) and Charleston Southern (0-7) are presently on the outside looking in.
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