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Lady Flames Prepare for VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational

August 30, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Lady Flames will play ACC foe Maryland, Friday at 4:30 p.m., at the first of their three matches at the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational.

The Lady Flames will play ACC foe Maryland, Friday at 4:30 p.m., at the first of their three matches at the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational.

Off to its best start since 1996 at 2-1, the Liberty volleyball team will seek to continue its early-season success this weekend at the VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational. The Lady Flames are scheduled to face Maryland, George Washington and host VCU at the two-day event, Friday and Saturday.

Tournament Schedule
The VCU 3rd Degree Sportswear Invitational field includes five teams. In addition to the quartet of competitors mentioned above, South Carolina will also be present at the Alltel Pavilion. Below is a full tournament schedule.

Friday, Aug. 31
2 p.m. – George Washington (1-2) at VCU (0-2)
4:30 p.m. – Liberty (2-1) vs. Maryland (2-1)
7 p.m. – South Carolina (2-1) at VCU

Saturday, Sept. 1
9 a.m. – Liberty vs. George Washington
11:30 a.m. – Maryland vs. South Carolina
2 p.m. – Liberty at VCU
4:30 p.m. – George Washington vs. South Carolina
7 p.m. – Maryland at VCU

A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (34-60 in his fourth season), went 2-1 at its own invitational this past weekend, the Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi. The Lady Flames opened the year with a 3-0 sweep of Howard and a 3-1 defeat of Duquesne, before going down in four games at the hands of tournament champion Evansville.

Standouts were numerous last weekend for the Lady Flames, who started four underclassmen and another player, redshirt junior outside hitter Jessica Nelson, who was sidelined for the entire 2006 season with a leg injury.

Sophomore setter Kallie Corbin was voted tournament MVP after totaling 142 assists, 26 digs and 18 kills and posting a stellar .341 attack percentage. She notched a career-high 57 assists during the Evansville match and fashioned nine kills on a .471 attack percentage against Duquesne.

Freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Karyl Bacon wasted little time in winning over the Lady Flames faithful. She was named to the all-tournament team and captured the Big South Freshman of the Week award after pacing all tournament participants in kills (45) and digs (66) and sharing the lead with six aces. Bacon recorded double-doubles in each of Liberty's three matches.

Nelson picked up right where she left off before her injury. In 2005, she paced the squad and ranked fifth in the conference with 393 kills. During the opening weekend, Nelson was second on the Liberty team with 39 kills and 47 digs. Against Evansville, the junior tallied 18 kills and 20 digs.

Nicki Scripko, another of the Lady Flames' talented freshmen, was originally recruited as an outside hitter. She opened her collegiate career on the right side, though, and flourished in the role. Her kill total increased each match, topping out at a dozen against Evansville, and the freshman paced Liberty with a .347 cumulative attack percentage.

Off to a Fast Start
Liberty opened its season at home for the first time since 1987 and took advantage of the friendly surroundings at the Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi. The Lady Flames won their first two matches of the season for the first time since 1992 and are 2-1 to begin the year for the first time since 1996.

The Lady Flames will have to keep playing well to match the 1996 team, which opened up with a 14-2 record, on its way to a 24-10 campaign.

A Familiar Venue
Liberty will call the Alltel Pavilion its "home away from home" by the end of the season. In addition to this weekend's tournament, the Lady Flames will return to VCU for a pair of matches at the VCU Thanksgiving Tournament, on Nov. 23.

What's Next?
After this weekend's tournament is complete, the Lady Flames will travel to Dayton, Ohio, Sept. 7-8, for their third of four weekend invitationals to open the season. Liberty is scheduled to play South Florida, host Wright State and The Citadel at the Wright State Raider Challenge.

Scouting Reports
The Maryland Terrapins, from College Park, Md., are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Head coach Janice Kruger, in her 20th season at Maryland, owns a record of 365-237 with the Terrapins. She is 740-342-6 overall as a collegiate head coach, in 31 years on the bench.

Maryland returned its entire starting line-up from its 2006 team, which went 13-18 and finished 11th in the ACC. This season's team, picked to place ninth in the conference, is 2-1. The Terrapins defeated Oakland and Southern Miss, before dropping their final match at the State Farm Bearcats Invitational to host Cincinnati.

Senior outside hitter Beth Gillming was voted to the all-tournament team after recording a team-high 39 kills in the three matches in Cincinnati. Katie Usher, a 6-3 sophomore middle blocker, also garnered all-tournament honors, as a result of her .311 attack percentage and 15 blocks.

Maryland is 2-0 all-time against Liberty, including a 3-2 decision in the team's most recent meeting, on Nov. 9, 1990. Theresa Bream set the Lady Flames' single-match record for digs with 45 during the marathon match with the Terrapins.

The Lady Flames' last victory against an ACC foe came at N.C. State, in four games on Oct. 19, 2004. Senior libero/defensive specialist Lara Bartolomeo, then a freshman, came up with a match-high 28 digs. Lady Flames assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden, then a senior outside hitter, led all players with 20 kills and added 22 digs in the contest.

George Washington
The George Washington Colonials, hailing from Washington, D.C., compete in the Atlantic 10 Conference. They are coached by Jojit Coronel, 107-100 in his eighth year at the helm.

George Washington is coming off a 14-12 campaign and opened the 2007 season with one win in three contests at the DC Challenge. The Colonials swept Georgetown and lost to both George Mason and American.

Senior outside hitter Janine Brown, one of the top returnees from last season, has started her year with three-straight double-doubles, including a 25-kill, 16-dig effort against American. Freshman defensive specialist Chelsea Cramer ended her first weekend of collegiate volleyball with 39 digs, earning her a spot on the DC Challenge All-Tournament team.

George Washington has won five of six lifetime meetings with the Lady Flames. The Colonials defeated Liberty, 3-0, last season at the Virginia Tech Hokie Invite. Bartolomeo notched 14 digs and Corbin had 37 assists and four blocks for the Lady Flames.

Liberty will be matching up with a team from the Atlantic 10 for the second-consecutive weekend. The Lady Flames took a 3-1 decision from Duquesne last Saturday, at the Liberty Invitational Presented by Pepsi.

The VCU Rams, based in Richmond, Va., compete in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). James Finley is 38-32 in his third year as head coach at VCU.

VCU, 16-18 in 2006, was picked to finish fourth in the CAA this season. The Rams dropped a pair of matches last weekend, at the Hawthorne Suites Hokie Invitational. Marshall edged VCU in five games, while host Virginia Tech recorded a 3-1 triumph.

Sophomore middle blocker Ivana Rich led VCU's balanced offensive attack with 23 kills during the invitational. Meanwhile, junior libero Laryssa Goncalves, a Brazilian, posted 62 digs.

Liberty holds a 13-7 advantage in the teams' all-time series. The Lady Flames had won six-straight tilts against VCU, before the Rams swept Liberty, 3-0 on Oct. 25, 2005 at the Alltel Pavilion.