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Lady Flames to Begin Big South Tournament Against Sixth-Seeded Radford, Thursday

November 18, 2015  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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No. 3 seed Liberty (14-13, 9-5 Big South) opens the 2015 Big South Volleyball Championship on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against sixth-seeded Radford (13-14, 6-8), at High Point's Millis Center. Liberty and Radford split two meetings this season, with each team winning at their opponent's arena.

The winner of Thursday's match will advance to a semifinal tilt on Friday at 7 p.m., against the winner of the match between No. 2 seed High Point and No. 7 seed Campbell. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the winning team advancing to the 2015 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.

Lady Flames at a Glance
Liberty won its final match before the conference tournament for the 19th year in a row, scoring a season-high 71 kills in a 3-1 win at Gardner-Webb, Saturday. Anna Willey, whose 63 assists on Saturday were the most by a Big South player this year, leads the conference with 11.29 assists per set in Big South play. The Lady Flames have recorded three 100-dig matches, ranking second with 18.03 digs per set in conference play.       

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats and live video will be available for all matches at the Big South Volleyball Championship. Fans can view all contests via live video streaming, free of charge, through the Big South Network. Sunday's championship match will be aired on ESPN3, with Kevin Burke calling play-by-play and Erin Hagen serving as color analyst.

Tournament Quick Points
Liberty is 36-17 all-time in Big South tournament matches, holding the conference record for tournament victories (36), tournament titles (7) and finals appearances (12).

Liberty won conference tournament titles in 1997, ‘99, 2001, ‘07, ‘08, ‘11 and ‘12.

The Lady Flames made finals appearances each year from 2007-12.

Liberty will be making its second-ever conference tournament appearance in High Point, N.C., and first since qualifying for the 2000 semifinal (L, 3-0 to Radford).

Despite opening the Big South Tournament against Radford for the first time, Liberty is 4-2 all-time in conference tournament play versus the Highlanders.

Liberty is the No. 3 seed for the fifth time, and second year in a row. The Lady Flames are 5-3 all-time as the third seed, including a tournament title in 2001.

Scouting Radford
Radford (13-14, 6-8 Big South) went 4-2 in its last six conference matches after starting Big South play at 2-6. The Highlanders are ranked second in the Big South with 13.03 kills per set.

Megan Short ranks second in the Big South with a .390 hitting percentage, and fourth with 3.29 kills per set. Haley Kleespies' 10.70 assists per set pace the conference, while she ranks second with 0.36 aces per set. Maddie Palmer averages 3.87 kills per set, while Savanna Burton scores 2.79 kills per set.         

Radford's eighth-year head coach Marci Jenkins holds a 127-124 career record. She was named Big South Coach of the Year in 2011, 2013 and 2014.

Liberty holds a 44-29 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. The two teams split the regular-season series in each of the last three seasons.

The Lady Flames staged an epic battle with top seed Radford in the 2013 Big South semifinal, as the eventual champion Highlanders won a marathon fifth set, 21-19, to advance to the final against Coastal Carolina.

Liberty downed Radford, 3-1, on Sept. 25 at the Dedmon Center in both teams' conference opener, while the Highlanders earned a 3-1 win at the Vines Center, Oct. 30.

2014 Championship Recap
Liberty entered the 2014 Big South Volleyball Championship as the No. 3 seed. The Lady Flames fell to No. 6 seed High Point in straight sets, marking the first time since 2006 that Liberty had not qualified for the conference semifinal. Caroline Douglas led the Lady Flames with 11 kills.

2015 Season Story
Liberty opened the season at 3-0 for the first time since 2008, sweeping the season-opening Liberty Invitational. After dropping seven out of the next eight against a challenging non-conference schedule, the Lady Flames then staged a five-match winning streak, starting Sept. 25 at Radford. Liberty went 10-5 during its last 15 matches.

The Lady Flames rallied from a 6-1, fifth-set deficit to down Campbell, 3-2, on Oct. 9, the largest fifth-set deficit overcome by the team since Nov. 11, 2006 at Radford.

Liberty avenged an earlier setback by downing High Point, 3-1, on Nov. 6 in front of a season-high 1,062 fans.

The Lady Flames split the season series with each of the remaining three teams on its side of the bracket (Radford, High Point, Campbell).

Liberty is 9-4 when winning the first set this season, while going 5-9 in matches after losing the first session.

Championship Memories
Liberty downed Coastal Carolina on Nov. 18, 2012, to claim the Lady Flames' conference-record seventh Big South Volleyball Championship title. The Lady Flames went on to face No. 8 national seed Minnesota, falling 3-0 (25-21, 25-10, 34-32).

Jade Craycraft was named the Big South Tournament MVP, becoming the third player in program history to earn Big South Freshman of the Year and Tournament MVP in a career. She was joined on the All-Tournament team by Caroline Douglas and Loren Thomas.

Lady Flames Earn Postseason Honors
On Tuesday, redshirt seniors Caroline Douglas and Jade Vorster were named to the Big South All-Conference first team, while sophomore Anna Willey received all-conference honorable mention and Margaret Latchford was voted to the All-Freshman team.

Douglas is the second player in program history to be named first team all-conference three times, joining only Anthonia Akpama (four times, 1996-99). Vorster has been voted all-conference all four years of her career (twice All-Big West, twice All-Big South).

Latchford joins teammates Douglas (2012), Jade Vorster (2012), Sirena Vorster (2014) and Hannah Weidner (2014) as past All-Freshman honorees.

On the Way Up
Caroline Douglas, is ranked eighth in program history with 1,343 career kills. She needs 33 more kills to pass Leanna Miller (1994-97) for eighth in program history.

Head Coach Shane Pinder, Liberty's winningest volleyball coach at 222-162, needs two more wins to pass former Coastal Carolina Head Coach Kristen Bauer (1999-2011) for second all-time in career coaching wins among Big South volleyball coaches. Julie Torbett (UNC Asheville 1994-2010, Winthrop 2011-12) is the all-time leader with 337 wins.

Top Freshman
Margaret Latchford's 476 digs this season are the 8th most in the program's rally-scoring history, and the most by a Liberty freshman since the start of the 2001 season.              She set the program rally-scoring record with 38 digs on Oct. 9 at Campbell. Latchford has posted three 30-dig matches and 10 20-dig matches this season.

Elite Company
Jade Vorster has posted 237 blocks at Liberty, surpassing her 221 blocks that she registered during two seasons at Hawai'i. Her 237 blocks are the third most by a Lady Flame in her first two seasons at Liberty. Anthonia Akpama posted 278 blocks in her first two seasons (1996-97), while program career record holder Kim Lawson totaled 260 blocks combined in 1990 and 1991.

Dishing it Out
Sophomore Anna Willey dished out at least 40 assists 11 times in 14 Big South matches this season. She topped 50 assists six times in conference play, including a career-high 63 assists on Nov. 14 at Gardner-Webb.

Willey led the Big South with 11.29 assists per set during conference play.

How Many Digs?
Liberty has posted the only three 100+-dig matches in conference play this season. It has been a team effort, as each 100-dig match featured five Lady Flames in double figures in digs.

10+-Club (Kills)
Seven current Lady Flames have posted at least one 10-kill match during their collegiate career, with six players reaching double-figures in kills this year.

Caroline Douglas scored a career-high 29 kills against Central Connecticut on Sept. 12, 2014, the most by a Lady Flame since Rachel Harnack recorded a program rally-scoring-record 40 kills at Coastal Carolina, Nov. 10, 2001.

Additional Lady Flames' career highs in kills: Hannah Weidner (20), Gabrielle Vess (19), Jade Vorster (19), Haley Jeffcoat (15), Sirena Vorster (14), Susan Babcock (11).

10+-Club (Digs)
Lady Flames with their current career highs in digs: Margaret Latchford (38), Allie Reynolds (24), Michelle Melendez (22), Anna Willey (19), Haley Jeffcoat (19), Caroline Douglas (18), Lindsay Foreman (16), Hannah Williams (14) and Gabrielle Vess (11).