Complete Match Notes
Liberty (1-2) opens its 2017 home schedule with the Liberty Invitational, beginning on Friday with a 7 p.m. match against Maryland (3-0). The Lady Flames will then take on Furman (1-2) and Elon (3-1) on Saturday.
Maryland is the first Big Ten volleyball program to visit the Vines Center, while Furman will be making its first appearance in the facility this weekend. Liberty is 19-2 all-time against Elon, 3-3 versus Furman and 1-3 against Maryland. Tournament Schedule Sept. 1 – Furman vs. Elon, 4:30 p.m. Live Stats Sept. 1 – Liberty vs. Maryland, 7 p.m. Live Stats Live Video
Sept. 2 – Elon vs. Maryland, 10 a.m. Live Stats Sept. 2 – Liberty vs. Furman, 12:30 p.m. Live Stats Live Video Sept. 2 – Maryland vs. Furman, 4:30 p.m. Live Stats Sept. 2 – Liberty vs. Elon, 7 p.m. Live Stats Live Video How to Follow the Lady Flames Fans can follow all of the action this weekend through live stats. Additionally, all three of Liberty's matches can be viewed online through Big South Network, ESPN3.com and WFFP, with Jacob Johnston calling play-by-play and Erin Hagen providing analysis.
Starting Rotation 1. Liberty went 1-2 at the Cavalier Classic on the weekend, falling to Villanova and Virginia before defeating Hofstra (20-10 record in 2016) on Saturday. Liberty's 14.5 blocks against Hofstra were its most since a 16-block match at Presbyterian, Oct. 15, 2016.
2. Gabrielle Vess was named to the Cavalier Classic All-Tournament team, her first career individual honor. She led the team with 3.22 kills per set on the weekend, bolstered by a 14-kill match against Virginia in which she surpassed 500 kills for her career.
3. Victoria Baptista has recorded double-digit dig totals during each of her first three matches since transferring from Panola College. She is the first player since Karyl Bacon in 2007 to begin her Liberty career with three or more straight 10-dig matches.
4. Shane Pinder, in his 14th season as Liberty's head coach, is the program's all-time winningest coach, at 239-178.
5. Amaya Williams, making her first career start on Saturday against Virginia, posted 36 assists and 10 digs. She became the first Liberty freshman since Lillie Happel (Aug. 27, 2010 vs. Cleveland State) to register a double-double in her first career start.
6. The Lady Flames were predicted to finish third in the Big South preseason coaches' poll. Additionally, senior setter Anna Willey and sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg were voted to the Preseason All-Big South team.
7. Liberty is 11-2 in home openers under Coach Pinder, and 21-7 in the initial home match of the season since 1989. Liberty has won its home opener eight straight years, beginning with a 3-0 victory over ETSU, Sept. 4, 2009.
Preseason Postings Liberty was predicted to finish third in the Big South preseason poll, behind defending Big South tournament champion High Point and 2016 Big South regular-season champion Radford, in that order.
Additionally, senior setter Anna Willey and sophomore middle blocker Anna Gragg were named to the Preseason All-Big South team. Willey is a two-time all-conference selection, while Gragg received All-Big South honorable mention as a freshman last year.
Blocking the Way A year after leading the Big South with 2.45 blocks per set, Liberty has picked up its net defense where it left off. The Lady Flames average 2.41 blocks per set.
In Liberty's 3-1 win over Hofstra on Saturday, the Lady Flames posted four straight blocks down the stretch to seal the win. Liberty posted 14.5 blocks against Hofstra, led by six blocks by Kainah Williams.
For the season, Anna Gragg (1.11) and Williams (1.17) both average over 1.0 blocks per set.
Gragg set a program freshman record with 108 blocks last season, tying Sirena Vorster. Both Gragg and Vorster were named honorable mention all-conference in 2016.
On the Attack Gabrielle Vess leads Liberty with 3.22 kills per set. In her first set, last Friday against Villanova, she scored six kills at a .667 pace. She followed with a 14-kill match against Virginia on Saturday, surpassing the 500-career-kill plateau.
Anna Gragg tied her career high with 15 kills on Saturday against Hofstra. For the season, Gragg is hitting .333, while Sirena Vorster attacks at a .357 clip.
Double-Double Amaya Williams, making her first start last Saturday against Virginia, registered a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs. She is the first Liberty freshman since Lillie Happel (Aug. 27, 2010 vs. Cleveland State) to record a double-double in her first start.
Senior Anna Willey is Liberty's active career leader in double-doubles, with 26, including 12 double-doubles in each of the last two seasons.
Gabrielle Vess has five career double-doubles, and Hannah Morris, three.
Digging Away Outside hitter Victoria Baptista leads Liberty with 3.36 digs per set, including three straight double-digit dig matches. She collected a season-high 13 digs against both Virginia and Villanova. Baptista, a transfer from Panola College in Texas, is the first player since Karyl Bacon in 2007 to collect 10+ digs in each of her first three matches at Liberty.
Margaret Latchford has collected 908 career digs. She entered her junior season with 876 career digs, the most by any Lady Flame in her first two season at Liberty. Latchford collected a program freshman-record 502 digs in 2015, a season that also saw her collect a program rally-scoring single-match-record 38 digs at Campbell, Oct. 2, 2015.
Setting the Stage Senior Anna Willey ranks eighth in program history with 2,310 career assists. She has ranked second in the Big South in assists each of the last two years. Willey dished out a season-high 45 assists on Saturday against Hofstra.
Sophomore Hannah Morris played well when called upon as a freshman last year, registering four 40-assist matches, one 50-assist contest and three double-doubles.
Freshman Amaya Williams dished out 36 assists on Saturday against Virginia, giving Liberty three setters with at least one career 30-assist contest.
As Tight as it Gets Liberty's 3-1 setback at Virginia literally could have gone either way, featuring 34 ties and 15 lead changes. Set two, which Virginia won, 27-25, had 21 ties and seven lead changes, including ties at each point from 3-3 to 21-21.
The Lady Flames then pulled out a tight, 3-1, win over Hofstra on Saturday, with 37 ties and 16 lead changes. Set three, a 28-26 Liberty win, saw 20 ties and 11 lead changes.
The Matchups Liberty vs. Maryland (Maryland leads, 3-1) Current Series Streak: Maryland W1 Last Meeting: Maryland 3, Liberty 2 (Aug. 30, 2014 - Elon, N.C.) Last Liberty Win: Liberty 3, Maryland 1 (Aug. 30, 2008 - Richmond, Va.)
Maryland opened its 2017 season with a 3-0 showing at a home tournament, defeating UMBC, Northeastern and Temple. The Terrapins outhit opponents, .249-.130.
Maryland's freshman class was ranked top-10 in the nation, featuring top-100 players Samantha Dreschel, Erika Pritchard and Jada Gardner.
Maryland rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat Liberty, 3-2, on Aug. 30, 2014 in Elon, N.C. Maryland's Adreene Elliott led all players with 24 kills, while Caroline Douglas scored 19 kills for Liberty. No Lady Flames from the 2017 squad appeared in that match.
Liberty is looking for its first win over an active Big Ten program. The Lady Flames defeated Maryland in 2008, when the Terrapins were members of the ACC. Liberty is 5-3 all-time against Rutgers, with each meeting coming before Rutgers joined the Big Ten.
Liberty vs. Furman (Series tied, 3-3) Current Series Streak: Liberty W1 Last Meeting: Liberty 3, Furman 1 (Sept.10, 2016 - Davidson, N.C.) Last Furman Win: Furman 3, Liberty 0 (Sept. 30, 1995 - Greenville, S.C.) Furman went 1-2 in Atlanta last weekend, falling to No. 17 Michigan State and Auburn while defeating Georgia Tech, 3-2. The Paladins were voted to finish sixth in the preseason Southern Conference Poll.
2015 SoCon All-Freshman team member Jamila Johnson leads Furman with 4.25 kills per set, while Christen Sikora averages 2.83 kills per set.
Liberty, facing Furman for the first time in over 20 years, downed the Paladins, 3-1, Sept. 10, 2016 in Davidson, N.C. Liberty's Casey Goodwin scored 18 kills, while Furman's Jamila Johnson hit .421 while leading all players with 19 kills.
Liberty vs. Elon (Liberty leads, 19-2) Current Series Streak: Liberty W3 Last Meeting: Liberty 3, Elon 0 (Aug. 30, 2014 - Elon, N.C.) Last Elon Win: Elon 3, Liberty 1 (Sept. 5, 2009 - Lynchburg, Va.)
Elon (3-1) went 2-1 at the Charlotte Invitational, before downing North Carolina A&T on Tuesday. The Phoenix went 18-15 last year, including 4-12 in CAA play.
2016 CAA All-Conference third-team selection Sydney Busa, leads the CAA with 4.53 kills per set, while Kam Terry follows with 4.20 kills per set.
Liberty outhit Elon, .298-.088 on Aug. 30, 2014, sweeping the Phoenix behind 10 kills each from Caroline Douglas and Hannah Weidner. Elon's Busa tied for match high with 10 kills. Elon won the 2009 Liberty Invitational, going 3-0 at the Vines Center.
Liberty Invitational History This weekend's tournament will be the 17th time Liberty has hosted an in-season invitational. The Lady Flames are 35-16 (.686) all-time at home invitationals, and last won the Liberty Invitational in 2015, defeating UNCG, Hampton and Fairleigh Dickinson.
Pinder's first collegiate coaching win came Sept. 17, 2004, in his first home match as head coach at Liberty, a 3-0 win over Davidson, the first match of the Liberty Invitational.
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