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Liberty Heads to High Point to Begin Conference Play, Friday

September 21, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Heads to High Point to Begin Conference Play, Friday

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (5-7) opens the conference portion of its 2016 schedule this Friday, competing at High Point at 7 p.m. The Panthers (9-5, 0-1 Big South) and Lady Flames were predicted to finish first and second, in that order, in the Big South preseason coaches' poll.

Liberty is 30-12 all-time against High Point, after the two teams split the season series in 2015. High Point has won five out of the last seven series meetings.

The Lady Flames have gone 20-5 all-time in Big South openers, winning their first conference match in 10 out of the last 11 seasons.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Friday night's match at High Point. Live stats will appear through Sidearm Stats, courtesy of High Point Athletic Communications. Friday's match will also be available for viewing, free of charge, through live video streaming on the Big South Network.

Starting Rotation
1.   Liberty went 2-1 at the VCU Invitational, finishing as tournament runner-up to the host VCU Rams. The Lady Flames outhit opponents, .211-.111, over the three matches.

2.   Freshman middle blocker Anna Gragg was named Big South Freshman of the Week on Monday, one week after teammate Casey Goodwin was tabbed conference freshman of the week on Sept. 12.

3.   Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 33rd nationally with 2.64 blocks per set. The Lady Flames also rank 28th in the nation in opponents' hitting percentage (.154).

4.   Anna Gragg and Sydney Morris were both named to the VCU Invitational All-Tournament team. Liberty has had six different players voted to one all-tournament team each so far this season.

5.   The Lady Flames recorded a season-high 17 blocks at VCU on Saturday, the team's most blocks since posting 17 rejections against High Point, Nov. 8, 2013.

6.   Five different Lady Flames (Leah Clayton, Hannah Morris, Sydney Morris, Gabrielle Vess and Anna Willey) have all recorded at least one double-double this season. It marks the first time since 2009 that five different Liberty players recorded double-doubles.

7.         Shane Pinder, in his 13th season as Liberty's head coach, became the program's all-time leader in career victories Oct. 3, 2014 at Gardner-Webb. At 227-170, Pinder now stands second all-time in Big South career coaching victories.

Gragg Named Big South Freshman of the Week
For the second week in a row, a Liberty player was named Big South Freshman of the Week, as Anna Gragg was honored, Monday after Casey Goodwin on Sept. 12.

Gragg had an efficient weekend at the VCU Invitational, averaging 2.30 kills per set while converting at a .525 pace. She added 1.10 blocks per set. Gragg now ranks third in the Big South with a .304 attack percentage, and second with 1.24 blocks per set.

D-Fence
Liberty posted a season-high 17 blocks on Saturday at VCU, the team's most rejections since a 17-block showing against High Point, Nov. 8, 2013. The Lady Flames held opponents to a .111 hitting percentage at the VCU Invitational.

For the season, Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 33rd nationally with 2.64 blocks per set, while the team's .154 opponents' hitting percentage is ranked 28th in the nation.

Junior Sirena Vorster (1.26 blocks per set) leads the Big South in blocks, while freshman Anna Gragg (1.24 bps) is second.

Breaking Through
Casey Goodwin leads the team with six 10-kill matches this season, including a career-high 20 kills on Sept. 9 against USC Upstate. She is the first Liberty freshman since Hannah Weidner, Oct. 18, 2014, to record a 20-kill match.

Sydney Morris is second on the team with five 10-kill matches. Anna Gragg became the sixth Lady Flame this season to enter double figures in kills in at lest one match this year, scoring a career-high 10 kills at VCU on Saturday.

Additionally, Weidner had 25 10-kill matches as a freshman in 2014.

Serving Up Aces
On Sept. 20 at Davidson, Liberty served up 10 aces, one shy of a season high that was set against Hampton. Casey Goodwin served up five aces, becoming the first Lady Flame since Kendle Rollins against Jacksonville, Aug. 31, 2012, with five aces in a match.

Goodwin is ranked 26th nationally with 0.49 aces per set.

Sirena Vorster and Hannah Morris both have one four-ace match this season.

Dishing it Out
Anna Willey is ranked 10th all-time in program history with 1,616 career assists, entering 10th place on Sept. 10 at Davidson.

Willey led the conference with 11.29 assists per set during Big South matches last year. She also posted a team-high 12 double-doubles, while adding 12 40-assist matches, seven 50-assist contests and one 60-assist match.

On Sept. 9 against USC Upstate, Hannah Morris dished out a career-high 51 assists. She became the first Liberty freshman since Jade Craycraft (52 assists) at Coastal Carolina, Nov. 6, 2010, with 50 assists in a match.

Double-Double the Fun
On Aug. 27 against Kennesaw State, Leah Clayton (15 kills, 17 digs), Hannah Morris (47 assists, 12 digs) and Gabrielle Vess (16 kills, 13 digs) all posted double-doubles.

Clayton and Morris were the first Liberty freshman teammates since Jade Craycraft and Lillie Happel Nov. 19, 2010 at Winthrop to record double-doubles in the same match.

With Sydney Morris (12 kills, 11 digs) recording her first career double-double on Sept. 10 against Furman, five Lady Flames have registered at least one double-double so far this season.

The last time five Lady Flames recorded a double-double in the same season was 2009. During the rally-scoring era, the most different Liberty players to post a double-double in a season is six, in both 2001 and 2008.

Liberty vs. High Point (Liberty leads all-time series, 30-12)
Current Series Streak: Liberty W1
Last Meeting: Liberty 3, High Point 1 (Nov. 6, 2015 - Lynchburg, Va.)
Last High Point Victory: High Point 3, Liberty 1 (Oct. 10, 2015 - High Point, N.C.)
Liberty Liberty Victory at High Point: Liberty 3, High Point 1 (Nov. 2, 2012)
High Point Head Coach: Tom Mendoza
Coaching Record at High Point: 9-5 (1st Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 227-170 (13th Year)

High Point (9-5, 0-1 Big South), the preseason favorite to win the Big South, lost its conference opener, 3-0, at Radford on Tuesday. The Panthers rank second in the Big South with a .205 hitting percentage and 12.40 kills per set. High Point has defeated ACC opponents N.C. State and Wake Forest so far this season.        

Haley Barnes, a 2015 Big South All-Conference first team selection, is ranked third in the Big South in kills per set (3.31). 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year Molly Livingston ranks fourth in the conference with 1.07 blocks per set and seventh in both hitting percentage and aces per set. Livingston is joined at the net by 2013 Big South Freshman of the Year Savannah Angel.

Series History
Liberty leads High Point, 30-12, in the all-time series, including a 14-12 mark under Pinder. High Point has won five out of the last seven meetings in the series, dating to the 2013 season. These two teams met in the 2010 Big South Volleyball Championship title match, which High Point won to claim its lone conference title in volleyball to date.

2015 Series
Liberty and High Point split the 2015 season series, which each team winning its home match by a 3-1 score. On Oct. 10, High Point defended its home court, as Camryn Freiberg led all players with 16 kills. Liberty's Jade Vorster scored 15 kills.

The Lady Flames celebrated senior night with a 3-1 win over High Point in the Vines Center on Nov. 6, led by Caroline Douglas' 19 kills.

Family Matters
A pair of sisters will be on opposite sides of the net on Friday. Liberty junior right-side hitter Hannah Weidner will face her younger sister, Jenna Weidner, who is a freshman defensive specialist for High Point. The Weidners hail from Shorewood, Minn.

Conference Opening
Liberty is 20-5 all-time in Big South openers, winning 10 out of its last 11 conference-opening matches. The Lady Flames began its Big South schedule against Radford each of the last five seasons.

Liberty has gone 3-0 all-time in Big South openers against High Point, downing the Panthers to begin the conference slate in 2000, 2001 and 2002.