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Liberty Travels for Friday Match at UNC Asheville

September 29, 2016  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty Travels for Friday Match at UNC Asheville

Complete Match Notes

Liberty (5-9, 0-2 Big South) closes out its nine-match road stretch on Friday, heading to Asheville, N.C., to take on the UNC Asheville Bulldogs (6-7, 0-2) at 7 p.m. at the Justice Center. Both teams are in search of their first conference win of the season. The Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 at home so far this season.

The Lady Flames lead the all-time series, 37-22, over the Bulldogs, winning 11 out of the last 14 matchups. However, these two teams have split the season series in 2014 and 2015.     

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for Friday night's match at UNC Asheville. Live stats will appear through Presto Sports, courtesy of UNC Asheville Athletics 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.   On Tuesday at Radford, three Liberty freshmen - Leah Clayton (19 kills), Anna Gragg (10) and Payton Carter (10) - scored double figures in kills. It was the first time in rally-scoring history that three Liberty freshmen recorded 10 or more kills in the same match.

2.   The Lady Flames registered 15 blocks on Tuesday at Radford, and for the first time in rally-scoring history, four players posted six or more blocks in the same contest.

3.   Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 31st nationally with 2.61 blocks per set. The Lady Flames also rank 27th in the nation in opponents' hitting percentage (.157).

4.   Freshman Payton Carter recorded her first career 10-kill match at Radford, becoming the seventh Lady Flame this year with at least one 10-kill contest.

5.   Liberty was predicted to finish second in the Big South Volleyball Preseason Poll. Margaret 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 227-172, Pinder now stands second all-time in Big South career coaching victories.

Fire Away
Freshman Leah Clayton scored a season-high 19 kills on Tuesday against Radford, while classmates Anna Gragg and Payton Carter sent down 10 kills apiece. It marked the first time in rally-scoring history (since 2001) that three Liberty freshmen recorded 10 kills in the same match.    

Also on Tuesday, Kainah Williams led the way with a career-high eight blocks, while fellow freshmen Gragg, Casey Goodwin and Hannah Morris all posted six blocks. It was the first time that four Lady Flames have registered six or more blocks in the same match in rally-scoring history.

Stout Defense
On Tuesday at Radford, Liberty held the Highlanders to a .189 hitting percentage, the fifth match in a row in which an opponent has hit .190 or worse. That is the Lady Flames' longest streak holding opponents below .190 since a six-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 fifth in the Big South in hitting percentage (.279) and third in blocks per set (1.15). Goodwin is ranked sixth in aces per set (0.44) and fifth in points per set (3.41).

Blocking the Way
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. With 15 blocks at Radford, Liberty has posted two 15-block matches in a season for the first time since 2012.

For the season, Liberty leads the Big South and ranks 31st nationally with 2.61 blocks per set, while the team's .157 opponents' hitting percentage is ranked 27th in the nation.

Junior Sirena Vorster (1.18 blocks per set) ranks second in the Big South in blocks, while freshman Anna Gragg (1.15 bps) is third.

Breaking Through
Payton Carter scored a career-high 10 kills on Tuesday at Radford, becoming the seventh Lady Flame with a 10-kill match this season. More Liberty players have recorded at least one double-figure kills match than either of the last two seasons.     

Casey Goodwin leads the team with six 10-kill matches this season, including a career-high 20 kills on Sept. 9 against USC Upstate.

Additionally, Hannah 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 22 aces this season are the most by a Liberty freshman since Gabrielle Shipe served up 23 aces in 2011.

Goodwin is ranked 33rd nationally with 0.44 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 last Friday at High Point, and now has 662 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.

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.

Liberty vs. UNC Asheville
Series Record:
Liberty leads all-time series, 37-22
Current Series Streak: UNC Asheville W1
Last Meeting: UNC Asheville 3, Liberty 1 (Nov. 13, 2015 - Asheville, N.C.)
Last Liberty Victory: Liberty 3, UNC Asheville 2 (Oct. 3, 2015 - Lynchburg, Va.)
UNC Asheville Head Coach: Frederico Santos
Coaching Record at UNC Asheville: 73-90 (9th Year)
Liberty Head Coach: Shane Pinder (2007, 2010, 2012 Big South Coach of the Year)
Coaching Record: 227-172 (13th Year)

UNC Asheville (6-7, 0-2) opens the home portion of its conference schedule, after dropping three-set matches at Campbell and High Point last weekend. The Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 inside the Justice Center and currently on an eight-match home winning streak. UNC Asheville is ranked 12th in NCAA Division I with 1.84 service aces per set.

Cara Guthrie leads the Big South with 0.50 aces per set, a stat that ranks 13th nationally. Guthrie is also third in the conference at 3.14 kills per set. Shelby Erickson follows with 2.62 kills per set, good for 10th in the Big South. Madison Vaughn hits .284 to pace the Bulldogs, while Madisen Zyburt averages 4.00 digs per set.

Series History
Liberty leads UNC Asheville, 37-22, in the all-time series, including 18-11 under Shane Pinder. These two teams split the season series in both 2014 and 2015. Liberty is 11-3 in the last 14 matchups overall.     

The Lady Flames hold a 7-3 lead all-time in conference tournament matches against UNC Asheville, last eliminating the Bulldogs in the 2013 Big South quarterfinals.

2015 Series Recap
The Lady Flames posted a 3-2 win over UNC Asheville on Oct. 3, 2015, as Liberty collected a program 25-point rally-scoring record 101 digs. Margaret Latchford led all players with 31 digs.

UNC Asheville evened the season series with a 3-1 victory over the Lady Flames on Nov. 13, 2015 at the Vines Center. Christine Lakatos scored a match-high 21 kills for the Bulldogs, while Caroline Douglas countered with 14 kills.

Almost Home
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.

Preseason Postings
Liberty was predicted to finish second in the Big South, according to the preseason coaches' poll. The Lady Flames went 14-14 a year ago, finishing third in the Big South with a 9-5 conference record.

Additionally, junior setter Anna Willey and sophomore libero Margaret Latchford were both named to the 2016 Big South Preseason All-Conference team.

The Lady Flames have already faced the teams picked first (High Point) and third (Radford) in the preseason poll, both on the road.