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Lady Flames Fly to Houston for Rice Adidas Invitational

August 29, 2018  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Lady Flames Fly to Houston for Rice Adidas Invitational

Complete Match Notes

The Liberty volleyball team (1-2) heads to Texas for the first time since 2004, competing in the Rice Adidas Invitational I in Houston, Texas. Competing in the home state of current Lady Flames Kainah Williams (Spring Branch) and Aspen Thompson (San Antonio), Liberty will take on South Carolina (3-0) and Houston Baptist (4-0) on Friday before facing the host Rice Owls on Saturday.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Fans can follow all of the action this weekend through Sidearm live stats from Rice Athletic Communications. Also, Saturday's match between Liberty and Rice can be viewed, for a charge, through Rice's OwlVision.

The host Rice Owls are the first of six opponents on Liberty's 2018 schedule who appeared in the postseason last year, as Rice competed in the inaugural Postseason NIVC. South Carolina is the first non-conference opponent that Liberty will face in two separate locations in a single regular season since playing a home-and-home series with Virginia Tech in 2001.

Starting Rotation
1. Liberty opened its 2018 campaign with a 1-2 showing at the Purdue Fort Wayne Invitational. The Lady Flames downed Oakland, 3-2, in the second match of the season, and suffered a pair of tightly-contested matches to Indiana State and Purdue Fort Wayne.

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 reached double-figures in kills in each of the first two matches this season and leads the Lady Flames in total kills.

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. She is the first player in the program's rally-scoring history with at least one 20-kill match as a freshman, sophomore and junior.

5. Senior libero Margaret Latchford is ranked ninth in program history and 29th among all active NCAA Division I players with 1,410 career digs. Her 23 digs last Friday against Indiana State were tied for the most by a Lady Flame in a season opener in the rally-scoring era.

6. Liberty fell to Purdue Fort Wayne, 43-41, in set one last Saturday. It was tied for the fourth-longest set in NCAA Division I history under the current 25-point scoring system. Prior to that, the longest set in program history was a 38-36 loss to High Point in set four, Sept. 30, 2005.

7. Redshirt freshman Kailey Macy is ranked second in the ASUN with 1.30 blocks per set. She is the first Liberty player since at least 1994 to record five or more blocks in each of the first two matches of a single season.

Team Notes
- Liberty led the Big South in blocks per set in both 2016 (2.45) and 2017 (2.15). The Lady Flames then posted 15 blocks in a 3-2 win over Oakland on Friday. Liberty entered this week ranked 38th in the nation with 2.73 blocks per set.

- 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 faced five Power 5 teams in the same year was 2013 (Ohio State, Kentucky, Duke, South Carolina, West Virginia).

- After finishing the 2017 season averaging 0.84 aces per set, Liberty's service game has improved this year, averaging 1.54 aces per set through three matches.

- Casey Goodwin's sixth ace of the match clinched set five, 18-16, against Oakland on Friday, sealing Trevor Johnson's first win as head coach of the Lady Flames.

- Liberty welcomes five newcomers to the roster in freshmen Madi Furtado, Lilly Kruse, Sydney Street and Aspen Thompson and transfer Amelia Johnson (North Dakota). Furtado, Kruse, Street and Johnson all made their Liberty debuts last weekend in Fort Wayne, Ind.

- 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.

- Four Lady Flames (Victoria Baptista, Jenna Culhan, Anna Gragg and Margaret Latchford) started the season opener in both 2017 (vs. Villanova) and 2018 (vs. Indiana State).

Player Notes
- Junior Anna Gragg was named to the Purdue Fort Wayne Invitational All-Tournament Team, her third straight all-tournament team honor, dating to the 2018 Amy Svoboda Memorial Tournament.

- 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 served up a career-high six aces on Friday against Oakland. She is currently tied for 12th nationally with 0.80 aces per set.

- Goodwin registered her first career double-double with 20 kills and 11 digs at Purdue Fort Wayne, Saturday, in her 62nd career match.

- Senior Margaret Latchford set a program freshman record with 502 digs in 2015.

- Latchford needs 90 more digs to become the seventh player in program history with 1,500 or more digs.

- Latchford has appeared in 340 consecutive sets, a streak that started during her freshman season. She has registered 20 20-dig matches and 71 career double-digit dig contests.

- 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 Liberty in assists since Jade Craycraft in 2010.

- Senior Victoria Baptista is one of two Lady Flames (also Margaret Latchford) to collect 10 or more digs in all three matches so far this season.

- Baptista recorded her first career double-double on Saturday at Purdue Fort Wayne, with 11 kills and a season-high 18 digs.

- 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 led the Lady Flames in assists in all three matches so far this season, and posted a double-double with 38 assists and a career-high 16 digs in the season opener.

- Junior Payton Carter scored a career-high 11 kills on Saturday at Purdue Fort Wayne.

- Redshirt freshman Kailey Macy played a major role in Liberty's 3-2 win over Oakland, scoring a team-high 11 kills and adding a match-high seven blocks.

- 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.

- Johnson is ranked second on the team with 2.67 kills per set this season. She scored a career-high 10 kills last Friday against Oakland, her first career start.

- Junior Kainah Williams is hitting .545 (6-0-11) on the season and is averaging 1.25 blocks per set. She hit .600 (6-0-10) at Purdue Fort Wayne on Saturday and added three blocks.

- 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 at Charleston Southern on Oct. 21.

- Sophomore Kaitlyn Young collected 127 digs as a freshman, including a career-high 17 digs against Presbyterian, Sept. 23.