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Liberty Volleyball to Host Rival Radford, Friday in Big South Opener

September 25, 2014  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Volleyball to Host Rival Radford, Friday in Big South Opener

Complete Match Notes

Liberty opens the Big South portion of its schedule on Friday at 7 p.m., hosting the defending conference champion Radford Highlanders at the Vines Center. The Lady Flames (12-5) picked up a 3-2 win over Virginia of the ACC on Tuesday, while Radford (10-4) has posted wins over California of the PAC-12 and Maryland of the Big Ten this season.

Liberty is 17-6 all-time in conference openers and had won eight Big South lid-lifters in a row, before falling at Radford on Sept. 27, 2013. This will be the fourth straight year that the Lady Flames begin their league slate against the Highlanders.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Friday's match, courtesy of Liberty athletics communications. The match will also be available for viewing through a live video stream, free of charge, on the Big South Network.

Starting Rotation
1. Liberty (12-5) has won three straight matches, and eight out of its last 10. The Lady Flames downed Virginia, 3-2, on Tuesday at the Vines Center, their first win over the Cavaliers since Nov. 1, 1979.

2. At 197-144, Liberty's 11th year head coach Shane Pinder is one win away from tying Chris Phillips (1992-97, 99-03) for the most wins in program history. Phillips went 198-174 during her Liberty tenure.

3.  Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas scored a match-high 27 kills on Tuesday, adding 13 digs for her fifth double-double in a row. Douglas, who leads the Big South with 4.06 kills per set, has posted 10 straight double-digit kill matches. Freshman Hannah Weidner has registered 11 consecutive 10-kill matches.

4. Liberty posted a season-high 16.5 blocks and nine aces on Tuesday against Virginia. Junior Jade Vorster totaled a match-high nine blocks, while freshman Sirena Vorster recorded a career-high seven blocks. Sophomore Kate Corson had a career-high four aces.

5. Senior Gabrielle Shipe has collected 1,471 career digs, good for eighth in program history. She needs nine more digs to vault into sixth place, passing Karyl Bacon (2007-10, 1,472 digs) and Erin (McKeown) Hagen (2000-03, 1,479).

6. Liberty is 42-27 all-time against Radford, including 25-2 in the last 27 meetings. Radford went 2-1 versus the Lady Flames last season, including a tightly-contested, five set (25-21, 20-25, 17-25, 25-20, 21-29) win in the Big South semifinal.

Big Win
The Lady Flames rallied from a 2-1 deficit to down the visiting Virginia Cavaliers, 3-2, on Tuesday. It was Liberty's first win over Virginia since 1979, snapping a 30-match winless streak in the series.

Blocking the Way
Liberty posted a season-high 16.5 blocks on Tuesday against Virginia, the most blocks by the Lady Flames since a 17-block match, Nov. 8, 2013 versus High Point.

On Tuesday, junior Jade Vorster posted her third nine-block match of the season. Freshman Sirena Vorster set her career high with seven blocks, while redshirt junior

Caroline Douglas and freshman Hannah Weidner posted five blocks each.

For the season, Jade Vorster ranks third in the Big South with 1.18 blocks per set.

Dominant Douglas
Redshirt junior Caroline Douglas recorded 27 kills on Tuesday against Virginia, her second 20-kill match in a row. Over the last 10 matches, Douglas averaged 4.56 kills per set, while hitting .310. She currently ranks leads the Big South with 4.06 kills per set.

The Last Lady Flame with back-to-back 20-kill matches was Karyl Bacon, with 22 at UC Irvine, Sept. 16, 2010 and 23 against West Virginia, Sept. 17, 2010.

Douglas has posted five straight double-doubles, the longest streak of double-doubles by a Lady Flame since Jade Craycraft recorded five straight double-doubles in 2013.

Coaching Milestones
Liberty head coach Shane Pinder is in his 11th season and holds a 197-144 (.577) overall career record, including 105-39 in Big South play. He is ranked second in program history in career wins and first in conference victories. Pinder needs just two more victories to pass Chris Phillips (1992-97, 1999-03) for first place on Liberty's all-time volleyball coaching wins list. Phillips posted a 198-174 (.532) overall mark at Liberty, leading the Lady Flames to their first three Big South titles. Pinder has guided the Liberty to four Big South tournament championships and four NCAA postseason berths.

Dig In
The Lady Flames recorded 77 digs on Tuesday against Virginia. Senior Gabrielle Shipe led five players in double-digits with 19 digs. Caila Stapleton (15), Caroline Douglas (13), Kate Corson (11) and Allie Reynolds (10) all reached double figures on Tuesday.

The last time that five Lady Flames posted 10+ digs in the same match was Nov. 15, 2013 at UNC Asheville.

Climbing the Charts
Senior Gabrielle Shipe ranks fourth in the Big South with 4.54 digs per set. She is ranked eighth in program history with 1,452 career digs. Shipe needs 28 more digs to vault into sixth place all-time at Liberty (Karyl Bacon – 2007-10: 1,472; and Erin McKeown - 2000-03: 1,479). Shipe started the season ranked 15th all-time at Liberty.

Weidner on a Roll
Freshman Hannah Weidner, a two-time Big South Freshman of the Week, is ranked sixth in the Big South with 3.34 kills per set.

Weidner has posted 11 straight 10-kill matches, and reached double figures in kills in 16 out of the Lady Flames' first 17 matches. Her streak of 10-kill matches is Liberty's longest since Karyl Bacon opened the 2010 season with 14 straight double-digit kill matches.

Weidner and Caroline Douglas have both reached double-figures in each of Liberty's last 10 matches.
 
Dishing it Out
Junior Caila Stapleton is ranked second in the Big South with 10.21 assists per set. She dished out a career-high 63 assists against Central Connecticut on Sept. 12. Her 63 assists were the most by a Lady Flame since Courtney Boggs had 64 at UNC Asheville, Nov. 7, 2008.

Liberty vs. Radford
All-Time Series:
Liberty leads, 42-27 (Radford went 2-1 in series in 2013)
Current Series Streak: Radford W1
Radford Head Coach: Marci Jenkins (2011, 2013 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record at Radford: 100-106 (7th Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 197-144 (11th Year)

Radford (10-4) posted five-set wins over California and Maryland this season. The Highlanders rank second in the Big South with a .160 opponents' hitting percentage.

Senior Rachel Wiechecki, the 2013 Big South Player of the Year, leads Radford with 3.17 kills per set. Freshman Maddie Palmer averages 2.43 kills per set, while leading the conference with 0.38 aces per set. Junior Megan Short ranks second in the Big South with a .352 hitting percentage, while senior Jena Braden averages 9.46 assists per set.

Series History
Liberty holds a 42-27 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. Radford's most recent volleyball win over Liberty at the Vines Center came Nov. 6, 2001, a 3-2 Highlanders victory.

The Lady Flames and Highlanders have met in the Big South Championship final on three occasions, with Liberty downing Radford for the title in 1999, 2001 and 2011.

Liberty vs. Radford - 2013 (Radford won season series, 2-1)
Radford opened the Big South Conference schedule with a 3-0 sweep of Liberty, Sept. 27, 2013 at the Dedmon Center.

Liberty won a tightly-contested five-set match over Radford at the Vines Center, Nov. 1, 2013, posting a season-high 14 blocks, compared to 11 for Radford.

These two teams met in the Big South semifinal, with the Highlanders winning set five, 21-19, to edge two-time defending champion Liberty. Lillie Happel recorded 18 kills and 12 digs, while Radford's Rachel Wiechecki registered 27 kills and 19 digs.

Liberty and Radford have gone to five sets in three out of their last four meetings and five out of their last eight head-to-head matchups.

Big South Opener
Liberty is 18-5 all-time in Big South openers. The Lady Flames had won eight conference openers in a row before falling to Radford, 3-0, Sept. 27, 2013. Since 1998, Liberty is 14-2 in its last 16 conference-opening matches. Liberty has faced Radford in its conference opener 10 times, going 6-4 in those matches.

Entering Friday, the Lady Flames have played their first conference match away from Lynchburg 16 out of their 23 seasons in the Big South. Liberty is 7-0 when the conference opener is at home, 9-5 away, and 1-1 in neutral-site league lid-lifters.

Home Cooking
Recently, Liberty has held a significant home-court advantage at the Vines Center.

The Lady Flames are 21-4 (.840) in their last 25 home matches and 43-7 (.860) in their last 50 home contests. Liberty is 80-27 (.748) at home under 11th-year head coach Shane Pinder. This year's senior class has gone 28-5 (.848) at the Vines Center.