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Liberty Announces Spring Volleyball Schedule

March 11, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Middle blocker Ashley Webber is one of two rising seniors on the 2008 Liberty volleyball roster.

Middle blocker Ashley Webber is one of two rising seniors on the 2008 Liberty volleyball roster.

The defending Big South champion Liberty volleyball team is back in action. Head coach Shane Pinder's Lady Flames will compete in four spring tournaments during the coming weeks, as they prepare for the 2008 season.

The Lady Flames, who return 10 players from the 2007 squad, will open their spring tournament schedule this Saturday. Liberty will travel to Virginia for a pair of matches, beginning at 11 a.m. Three more in-state tournaments will follow, culminating with an event at James Madison on April 19. The full tournament schedule may be found at the bottom of this release.

Liberty fans unable to travel to the four tournaments will have numerous opportunities to watch the team scrimmage at home. Pinder has his team scrimmaging during every Tuesday and Thursday practice this spring, with each session being open to the public. The Tuesday and Thursday practices typically run from 3:45 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. and are held either in the volleyball team's facility on Campus East or inside the Vines Center.

The Lady Flames are also planning a special Saturday scrimmage session on April 5. Things will get started at 10 a.m. that morning, at the Vines Center. recently caught up with Pinder, the 2007 Big South and Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Coach of the Year, to find out what he is watching for this spring.

Notable Absence
One of the first things Pinder noticed when his players reconvened recently was the absence of three familiar faces on the court. Lara Bartolomeo, Mary Alice Pike and Alysson Sanders each wrapped up their careers at Liberty this past fall. Seniors graduating from a college athletic program is a routine occurrence, but this trio carried special significance for Pinder.

"They started out with us when we took this job four years ago," recalled Pinder. "They provided great leadership for our program. We are now trying to find vocal leaders for our team."

Rising Seniors
The 2008 Lady Flames roster will feature two seniors, outside hitter Jessica Nelson (Tokyo, Japan) and middle blocker Ashley Webber (Lakeside, Calif.). Pinder expects big things from both players this coming season.

Nelson made a successful return from a leg injury which sidelined her for the entire 2006 campaign. A member of the Big South Championship all-tournament team, she broke Liberty's single-season record with 524 digs last year.

"Jessica has a ton of athleticism," noted Pinder. "She keeps getting stronger every day."

Meanwhile, Webber flourished during her first full season as a starter at middle blocker. She hit .293 and established a Liberty record for most blocks in a season, with 128.

"Ashley is continuing to get stronger as well," Pinder stated. "She is providing us a lot more offense from the middle this spring."

Changing Roles
Last season, the Lady Flames paced the Big South Conference in both attack percentage (.232) and kills per game (16.28 kpg). However, Pinder believes his team can perform even better offensively in 2008.

"We're trying to speed up our offensive tempo," said Pinder. "We're putting in a lot of reps and working on some new things."

Pinder has made one significant positional change so far, shifting Big South Freshman of the Year Nicki Scripko (Fayetteville, N.C.) from the right side to outside hitter.

"We are shaping our offense into one that gives Nicki a lot more sets," explained Pinder. "It also creates an open door on the right side, for either Brittany Pacella (Reading, Pa.), Carmen Streeper (Rustburg, Va.) or incoming freshman Claire Jacobsma (Midland, Texas)."

Be sure to keep an eye on, for results of the Lady Flames' spring volleyball tournaments and the latest news about the Liberty netters.

Liberty Volleyball 2008 Spring Tournament Schedule
March 15 – at Virginia – 11 a.m.
March 29 – at Virginia Tech – TBA
April 6 – at VCU – TBA
April 19 – at James Madison - TBA