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Lady Flames Set to Compete at Commonwealth Rival Radford, Tuesday

September 26, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames Set to Compete at Commonwealth Rival Radford, Tuesday

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (5-8, 0-1 Big South) competes on the road for the fourth week in a row, beginning with a 7 p.m. match on Tuesday at Radford (12-3, 3-0) in the Dedmon Center. Radford is the early leader in Big South standings, while Liberty is looking to even its conference record.

The Lady Flames and Highlanders have split their regular-season series each of the last three years, with the away team winning both matches in 2015. Overall, Liberty holds a 44-30 lead in the all-time series.

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

Starting Rotation
1.   Liberty is now 20-6 all-time in Big South openers after falling at conference favorite High Point in four sets, last Friday.

2.   The Lady Flames held High Point to a .153 hitting percentage, the fourth match in a row and eighth time this season that Liberty has had an opponent hit less than .175.

3.   Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 33rd nationally with 2.57 blocks per set. The Lady Flames also rank 25th in the nation in opponents' hitting percentage (.154).

4.   Freshman middle blocker Anna Gragg was named Big South Freshman of the Week on Sept. 19, one week after teammate Casey Goodwin was tabbed conference freshman of the week on Sept. 12.

5.   Margaret Latchford collected a season-high 19 digs on Friday at High Point. Last season, Latchford set a program freshman record with 502 digs. Latchford and setter Anna Willey were both named to the Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

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 227-171, Pinder now stands second all-time in Big South career coaching victories.

Stout Defense
On Friday at High Point, Liberty held the Panthers to a .153 hitting percentage, the fourth match in a row in which an opponent has hit .175 or worse. That is the Lady Flames' longest streak holding opponents below .175 since a five-match span, Nov. 3 through Nov. 18, 2012.

Back-to-Back Freshman of the Week Honorees
Liberty players were named Big South Freshman of the Week back-to-back weeks, as Anna Gragg was honored, Sept. 19 after Casey Goodwin on Sept. 12.

The last time Liberty received Big South Freshman of the Week in consecutive weeks was Sept. 8 and 15, 2014, when Hannah Weidner was honored twice.

Gragg ranks fourth in the Big South in hitting percentage (.291) and third in blocks per set (1.14). Goodwin is ranked fifth in aces per set (0.47) and fourth in points per set (3.57).

Liberty posted a season-high 17 blocks on Sept. 17 at VCU, the team's most rejections since a 17-block showing against High Point, Nov. 8, 2013.

For the season, Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 33rd nationally with 2.57 blocks per set, while the team's .154 opponents' hitting percentage is ranked 25th in the nation.

Junior Sirena Vorster (1.21 blocks per set) ranks second in the Big South in blocks, while freshman Anna Gragg (1.14 bps) is third.

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 least one match this year, scoring a career-high 10 kills at VCU on Sept. 17.

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

Serving Up Aces
Casey Goodwin served up five aces at Davidson on Sept. 10, becoming the first Lady Flame since Kendle Rollins against Jacksonville, Aug. 31, 2012, with five aces in a match.

Goodwin's 21 aces this season are the most by a Liberty freshman since Gabrielle Shipe served up 23 aces in 2011. One year before that, in 2010, then freshman Lillie Happel recorded 51 service aces.

Goodwin is ranked 25th nationally with 0.47 aces per set.

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

Digging In
Sophomore Margaret Latchford collected a season-high 19 digs on Friday at High Point, giving her 649 career digs. To date, only eight Lady Flames all-time have reached the 700-dig mark as a sophomore. Program record holder Kelly Haseman (2008-11) also holds the record for most digs in her first two seasons at Liberty, with 867.

Dishing it Out
Anna Willey is ranked 10th all-time in program history with 1,640 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.

Long Time on the Road
Liberty's last home match was Sept. 3, and the Lady Flames will next compete at the Vines Center next Friday, Oct. 7 against Gardner-Webb. The 33-day span between home matches is tied for the longest such stretch since Liberty joined the Big South in 1991. Liberty also went 33 days in between home contests during the 1998 season.

Liberty vs. Radford (Liberty leads all-time series, 44-30)
Current Series Streak:
Radford W2
Last Meeting: Radford 3, Liberty 2 (Nov. 19, 2015 - High Point, N.C. - BSC QF)
Last Liberty Victory: Liberty 3, Radford 1 (Sept. 25, 2015 - Radford, Va.)
Radford Head Coach: Marci Jenkins (2011, 2013, 2014 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record at Radford: 140-128 (9th Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 227-171 (13th Year)

Radford (12-3) leads the Big South with a 3-0 conference record so far, defeating High Point, Presbyterian and Campbell. The Highlanders pace the conference in both hitting percentage (.228) and opponents' hitting percentage (.148). Radford is 4-0 at the Dedmon Center this season.     

Maddie Palmer, reigning Big South Player of the Week, leads the Big South with 4.10 kills per set. 2015 Big South All-Freshman team member Haley Kleespies is the conference leader with 10.60 assists per set. Mallory McKnight hits a team-best .272, while Kelby Jackson's 3.67 digs per set lead Radford.

Series History
Liberty holds a 44-30 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 each of the last three years, while Radford won conference tournament matches against Liberty in 2013 and 2015.

Liberty (2007 through 2012) and Radford (2013, 2014) combined to win each of the eight Big South regular-season volleyball titles from 2007 through 2014.

2015 Series Recap
Liberty opened the 2015 Big South schedule with a 3-1 win at Radford, Sept. 25, bringing the Highlanders' program-record-tying 15 match home winning streak to an end.

Then, Radford won in the Vines Center for the first time since 2001, posting a 3-1 win at Liberty on Oct. 30.

These two teams met in a marathon Big South quarterfinal match on Nov. 19, with the Highlanders rallying from a 2-0 deficit to down the Lady Flames, 3-2.

On the Defensive
Tuesday night's matchup features the top two defensive teams in the Big South, and two of the top defenses in the nation. Radford is ranked 18th among all NCAA Division I volleyball teams, with a .148 opponents' hitting percentage, while Liberty is ranked 25th, at .154.

Conference Opening
After falling at High Point on Friday, Liberty is 20-6 all-time in Big South openers. The last two times that Liberty fell in its Big South opener, 1997 and 2013, the Lady Flames posted winning conference records.

In 1997, after losing its conference opener, Liberty went on to go 10-2, claiming the regular-season co-championship before earning the program's first of seven Big South postseason titles to date.