Volleyball Notes A new era of Liberty volleyball begins this weekend, as first-year Head Coach Trevor Johnson and the Lady Flames travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., to compete in the Fort Wayne Invitational presented by Hyatt Place. Liberty, in its first season as a member of the ASUN Conference, will take on Indiana State and Oakland on Friday before facing the host Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons on Saturday. How to Follow the Lady Flames Fans can follow all of the action at the Fort Wayne Invitational through live stats and live video. Live video streaming is available, for a charge, through Mastodon All-Access on GoMastodons.com. Also, Liberty's match against Fort Wayne on Saturday will have live audio avilable.
Liberty has faced Indiana State once, dropping a three-set match to the Sycamores, Sept. 28, 1991 in Huntington, W.Va. The Lady Flames will be meeting Oakland and Purdue Fort Wayne for the first time. This is the team's first visit to Indiana, home state for freshman Lilly Kruse (Auburn, Ind.), since competing in the Golden Dome Invitational in South Bend, Ind., in 2008.
Starting Rotation 1. Liberty begins play in the ASUN Conference this year after a successful 27-year stint in the Big South Conference, during which the Lady Flames went 238-112 (.680) with nine Big South regular-season championships and a conference-record seven Big South Tournament titles.
2. Trevor Johnson takes over the program after spending the last two seasons as top assistant and recruiting coordinator at Texas A&M. A very successful head coach at the NAIA level, he went 86-14 combined at Concordia (Calif.), leading the men's team to the 2013 NAIA national title.
3. Junior middle blocker Anna Gragg is a two-time Big South All-Conference performer, including first-team honors in 2017. She set a program freshman record with 108 blocks in 2016, before finishing the 2017 season ranked second in the Big South in hitting percentage (.315).
4. Junior right-side hitter Casey Goodwin, the 2018 Fan-Voted ASUN Preseason Player of the Year, was a second-team all-conference selection last year, when she led the Lady Flames with 311 kills.
5. Sophomore Amaya Williams, a 2017 Big South All-Freshman Team selection, paced Liberty with 746 assists last year, the first freshman to lead Liberty in assists since Jade Craycraft in 2010. Her 59 assists against Presbyterian were the most by a Big South setter in a match last year.
6. Liberty has gone 8-22 in season openers during the NCAA Division I era, since 1988. The Lady Flames are looking to win their season opener for the first time since sweeping UNCG to start the 2015 season.
7. Senior libero Margaret Latchford enters her final campaign at Liberty ranked ninth in program history with 1,353 career digs. She also holds Liberty's rally-scoring single-match record for digs (38 at Campbell, Oct. 9, 2015).
Team Notes - Liberty led the Big South in blocks per set in both 2016 (2.45) and 2017 (2.15). The Lady Flames posted 11 10-block matches last season, including a season-high 14.5 blocks against Hofstra on Aug. 26.
- The team will be on the road for a majority of the time until October, as 16 out of its first 17 matches are away from the Vines Center. The Lady Flames will spend the whole month of October at home, with a program-record nine straight home matches from Oct. 5-28.
- Liberty will have five matches against Power 5 opponents this season, in South Carolina (twice), Virginia, LSU and Maryland. The last time Liberty had five matches against Power 5 teams in the same year was 2013 (Ohio State, Kentucky, Duke, South Carolina, West Virginia).
- On Sept. 23 against Presbyterian, Anna Gragg (19 kills, .514), Casey Goodwin (15, .536) and Sirena Vorster (14, .542) all hit over .500, the first time in rally-scoring history (since 2001) that three Lady Flames hit .500 or better, with 12 or more kills, in the same match.
- Last year, for the first time in the rally-scoring history, three different Lady Flames recorded at least one 30-assist match, in Hannah Morris, Anna Willey and Amaya Williams.
- Liberty welcomes five newcomers to the roster this year, in freshmen Madi Furtado, Lilly Kruse, Sydney Street and Aspen Thompson and transfer Amelia Johnson (North Dakota).
- Liberty was predicted to finish fifth in the preseason ASUN coaches' poll. Florida Gulf Coast was predicted first, followed by 2017 ASUN champion Kennesaw State and Lipscomb in second and third, respectively.
Player Notes - Junior Anna Gragg sent down a career-high 26 kills at a .524 pace at Presbyterian, Nov. 3, 2017. Her 26 kills at PC were the most in a single match by any Liberty middle blocker in rally-scoring history, even though the match lasted just four sets.
- Gragg earned a tryout for the US National Team in Colorado Springs, Colo., in March.
- Gragg is the first Liberty player since Jade Craycraft (2010-11) to be named all-conference as both a freshman and a sophomore.
- Junior Casey Goodwin scored 10 kills during set three on Oct. 20, 2017 at Winthrop, becoming the first Lady Flame since Caroline Douglas against UNC Asheville in 2012 to score 10 kills in a set.
- Goodwin posted 17 double-digit kill matches last year, including a career-high 23 kills (.442) on Nov. 9 at UNC Asheville.
- Senior Margaret Latchford set a program freshman record with 502 digs in 2015.
- Latchford needs 47 more digs to become the ninth player in program history with 1,400 or more digs.
- Latchford has appeared in 327 consecutive sets, a streak that started during her freshman season.
- Sophomore Amaya Williams tied for the conference lead with two Big South Freshman of the Week honors in 2017.
- Williams was the first Liberty freshman to lead the team in assists since Jade Craycraft in 2010.
- Senior Victoria Baptista finished second on the team with 15 service aces and 315 digs last year, her first year after transferring from Panola College.
- Baptista registered 17 double-digit dig matches, with a career-high 19 digs at Gardner-Webb on Nov. 11.
- Junior Hannah Morris, a setter from Liberty Christian Academy, has an older sister, Rachel Morris, who served as a backup setter for the Lady Flames in 2014 and 2015.
- Morris has four career 40-assist matches to her credit, including a career-high 51 assists against USC Upstate, Sept. 9, 2016.
- Sophomore Jenna Culhan posted two double-digit kill matches and collected 10 or more digs five times as a freshman. She scored a career-high 12 kills (.375) at Charleston Southern on Oct. 21.
- Junior Kainah Williams ranked second on the team with 0.86 blocks per set last year. She tied her career high with eight blocks at Air Force, Sept. 9, 2017. She scored a career-high 11 kills at UNCW, Sept. 15, 2017 and against High Point, Sept. 19, 2017.
- Junior Payton Carter scored a career-high 10 kills, to go along with three service aces, Sept. 27, 2016 at Radford.
- Sophomore Kaitlyn Young collected 127 digs as a freshman, including a career-high 17 digs against Presbyterian, Sept. 23.
- Redshirt sophomore Amelia Johnson spent her first two years at North Dakota, as the Fighting Hawks won the Big Sky and appeared in the NCAA Tournament in both 2016 and 2017.
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