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Liberty Volleyball to Play Two at VCU, Friday Afternoon

November 21, 2007  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Ashley Webber's 120 blocks are the most by a Lady Flame since 1997.

Ashley Webber's 120 blocks are the most by a Lady Flame since 1997.

The Liberty volleyball team, fresh off its first Big South Championship win since 2001, will travel to VCU for the second time in 2007, this Friday. The Lady Flames will tune up for the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament with matches against Long Island and Georgetown, as part of the VCU Thanksgiving Tournament.

Liberty will then find out its first-round opponent, date and tournament location Sunday evening at 8 p.m., when the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament selection show is broadcast by ESPNU.

This Week's Schedule
VCU Thanksgiving Tournament at Alltel Pavilion
Friday, Nov. 23
Long Island (21-12, 8-0 NEC) vs. Liberty (26-7, 11-1 Big South) – 1 p.m.
Georgetown (5-25, 1-13 Big East) vs. Liberty – 4:30 p.m.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for both of Friday's matches, courtesy of VCU. Links are available on the volleyball schedule/results page of LibertyFlames.com. Additionally, you may click here for live stats of the 1 p.m. Long Island-Liberty match or click here for live stats of the 4:30 p.m. Georgetown-Liberty contest.

A Look at Liberty
Liberty, coached by Shane Pinder (58-66 in his fourth season), has won a school-record 16-consecutive matches and 48 of its last 49 games, a streak which began Oct. 5 against Charleston Southern. Pinder was voted Big South Coach of the Year for the first time in his career, after leading a squad which starts four underclassmen to the most wins by a Liberty team since 1997. Three of Pinder's players earned all-tournament recognition at the Big South Championship.

Kallie Corbin, a 5-9 sophomore setter, was voted tournament MVP, becoming only the second Lady Flame setter (Ashley Fletcher in 1997) ever to earn the honor. She totaled 80 assists, 16 digs, eight kills and four blocks in Liberty's sweeps of No. 4 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 2 seed Winthrop

Jessica Nelson, a 5-9 redshirt junior outside hitter, was named to the all-tournament team after starring defensively for the Lady Flames. She led all players in digs during both of Liberty's matches, posting 19 digs versus Coastal Carolina and 27 digs against Winthrop. She also completed her team-high 17th double-double of the season in the championship match, adding 11 kills on a .320 hitting percentage.

Nicki Scripko, a 6-1 freshman right-side hitter, was one of two freshmen on the all-tournament roster (UNC Asheville's Kelsey Benorden). She hit .522 with a match-high 15 kills versus Coastal Carolina and notched a double-double against Winthrop, totaling 12 kills and 11 digs. Scripko was the first Liberty freshman to garner Big South All-Tournament team recognition since assistant coach Jennifer (Belk) Vaden in 2001.

Home-Court Advantage
Liberty won its last 11 home matches of the year, marking the Lady Flames' longest home winning streak since a 14-match streak, spanning the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Liberty finished the year 13-2 on its home court at the Vines Center.

Record Setters
A number of team and individual records have been set by the Lady Flames this season. Liberty's 26 victories have the Lady Flames tied with the 1997 squad for most wins as a NCAA Division I program. Other Liberty squads to win 26 or more matches in a season were the 1983 (34-23), 1984 (30-16) and 1979 (26-11) teams.

Junior Ashley Webber (120 blocks) and senior Lara Bartolomeo (495 digs) have set Liberty rally-scoring season records in their respective statistical categories. Webber's block total is the highest by a Lady Flame since Stacy Collier's 129 blocks in 1997. Bartolomeo's dig total is the most by a Liberty player since Nikki Keznor came up with 509 digs in 1993.

Rally-Scoring Records
By the time the year is completed, the Liberty single-season rally-scoring record lists will look a lot different than they did when the season began. Below is an up-to-date glance at each of the lists.

Kills
Jennifer Belk – 507 (2004)
Rachel Harnack – 489 (2001)
Erin McKeown – 480 (2002)
Jennifer Belk – 444 (2002)
Jennifer Belk – 444 (2001)

Attack Pct.
Erin McKeown - .339 (2002)
Erin McKeown - .338 (2003)
Chelaine McCarty - . 337 (2007)
Nicki Scripko - .305 (2007)

Erin McKeown - .290 (2001)
Ashley Webber - .290 (2007)

Assists
Kristin Colson – 1,630 (2002)
Michelle Howland – 1,512 (2001)
Kallie Corbin – 1,492 (2007)
Kristin Colson – 1,334 (2004)
Kristin Colson – 1,270 (2003)

Service Aces
Kallie Corbin – 52 (2006)
Kallie Corbin – 43 (2007)
Kristin Colson – 41 (2002)
Jennifer Belk – 40 (2003)
Alysson Sanders – 34 (2006)
Jessica Nelson – 34 (2006)

Blocks
Ashley Webber – 120 (2007)
Erin McKeown – 106 (2003)
Autum Black – 104 (2006)
Autum Black – 99 (2004)
Chelaine McCarty – 98 (2007)

Digs
Lara Bartolomeo – 495 (2007)
Lara Bartolomeo – 494 (2006)
Jessica Nelson – 476 (2007)
Jennifer Belk – 442 (2002)
Erin McKeown – 420 (2002)

Liberty in the National Rankings
Liberty is listed in the top 30 of three different categories on the latest NCAA statistical report. The Lady Flames sit ninth in digs per game (19.79 dpg), 26th in winning percentage (.788) and 30th in kills per game (16.34 kpg).

Individually, Corbin ranks 32nd nationally in assists per game (12.75 apg). She is listed just ahead of the setters for No. 7 Cal, No. 10 UCLA and No. 11 Hawaii.

Best in the Big South
Liberty leads the Big South Conference in six out of seven team statistical categories. The Lady Flames top the conference in attack percentage (.236), opponent hitting percentage (.145), assists (14.80 apg), kills (16.34 kpg), blocks (2.36 bpg) and digs (19.79 dpg).

Individually, five Lady Flames rank in the top five of Big South statistical categories, highlighted by Corbin, who leads the conference with 12.75 assists per game and is third with 0.37 aces per game.

McCarty ranks third in the Big South in attack percentage at .337 and Ashley Webber is second with 1.03 blocks per game. Webber also sits fifth in attack percentage, hitting at a .290 clip.

Scripko resides in fourth place for attack percentage, at .305, while Bartolomeo ranks fifth with 4.30 digs per stanza.

Scouting Reports
Long Island
The Long Island Blackbirds, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., are coached by Toby Rens. He is 104-44 in his fourth season at Long Island. The Blackbirds have won the Northeast Conference (NEC) crown each season Rens has been at the helm. Rens is 211-116 in nine total seasons as a collegiate head coach.

Long Island, like Liberty, is preparing for a trip to the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament. The Blackbirds, 21-12, captured their fourth-consecutive NEC title on Sunday, with a 3-0 sweep of Robert Morris. Long Island has won seven-consecutive matches overall, entering the VCU Thanksgiving Tournament.

Senior outside hitter Shelby Heggie was honored as NEC Player of the Year and also took home MVP honors from the NEC Tournament. She leads the team with a .316 attack percentage and ranks second on the squad in both kills (453) and blocks (102).

Classmate Martina Wagner, the 2006 NEC Player of the Year, joined Heggie on the first-team All-NEC roster. Wagner, a native of Germany, leads the team in kills with 470 and leads the nation with her 104 service aces.

Martina Racic, a junior from Croatia, also made the All-NEC first team and sophomore Svetlana Simic, from Serbia, earned the inaugural NEC Libero of the Year award. Simic paces the Blackbirds with 531 digs.

Long Island and Liberty will be meeting for the first time. They have played three common opponents this season--Binghamton, George Washington and South Florida. The Blackbirds swept all three foes by 3-0 margins, while Liberty defeated Binghamton 3-1, beat George Washington 3-2 and lost to South Florida by a 3-1 count.

Georgetown
The Georgetown Hoyas, located in Washington, D.C., are coached by Arlisa Hagan Williams. She is 13-44 in her second year with the Hoyas.

Georgetown enters the VCU Thanksgiving Tournament with a 5-25 overall record and a 1-13 Big East ledger. The Hoyas have dropped nine-straight decisions and 16 of their last 17. Georgetown will be the third Big East opponent Liberty has faced this season. The Lady Flames dropped 3-1 decisions to both South Florida and Villanova in September.

The Hoyas' balanced offensive attack is headed by Dana Dumas, a 6-1 sophomore outside hitter/right-side hitter who has posted a team-high 269 kills on the year. Caitlin Boland, a 5-9 junior, sets for Georgetown, and has recorded 840 assists. Katherine Niesen, a 6-2 junior middle blocker, averages 1.0 blocks per game, giving her a total of 99 on the season.

Georgetown is 2-0 all-time versus the Lady Flames, as the Hoyas swept Liberty in both 1989 and 1990. Georgetown and Liberty have seen five common opponents this season (George Washington, Howard, South Florida, Villanova, Winthrop). Georgetown is 1-4 against the five squads, while Liberty is 4-3.