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Lady Flames Set to Battle No. 4 Huskers

December 4, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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The Big South champion Lady Flames will begin their fifth NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship appearance Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a contest at No. 4 Nebraska.

The Big South champion Lady Flames will begin their fifth NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship appearance Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern, with a contest at No. 4 Nebraska.

Complete Match Notes (PDF format)

Nebraska's Tournament Central page Interactive Tournament Bracket

Nebraska Educational Television LIVE video stream

Husker Sports Network radio broadcast

Live Stats for the Liberty-Nebraska match

The Match

The Big South champion Liberty Lady Flames (25-8, 13-3 Big South), making their second consecutive NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship appearance, will travel to Lincoln, Neb., for the first and second round of this year's championship. Liberty's opening-round opponent is the host team, the Nebraska Cornhuskers (27-2, 18-2 Big 12), seeded No. 4 nationally. The Lady Flames and Cornhuskers will face off at the Nebraska Coliseum, Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

How to Follow Friday's Match
Tickets for Friday's Liberty-Nebraska match sold out in just seven minutes, after the matchups were announced Sunday evening. However, Lady Flames fans unable to see the match at the Nebraska Coliseum have a few ways to follow the action.

The match will be televised throughout the state of Nebraska by Nebraska Educational Television (NET). The NET feed will also be video streamed over the Internet. Click here for more information on this feature. Basic registration information is required.

The match will also be broadcast over the radio by the Husker Sports Network. To listen to the radio broadcast, click here. It is available free of charge, but some basic registration information is required before you can access the audio stream.

Live stats will be available throughout all 63 NCAA Tournament matches. To view the Liberty-Nebraska live stats, click here.

Tournament Buzz
For additional information leading up to Friday's match, check out the following links:

Nebraska's official match notes (PDF format) NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship preview

Omaha World-Herald match preview

Lincoln Journal Star match preview

Lynchburg News & Advance match preview

What's at Stake
The winner of Friday's match will advance to the second round, where they will meet the winner of Friday's opening contest between UAB and Missouri State. Saturday's second-round tilt at the Nebraska Coliseum is set for 6 p.m. Eastern.

Liberty is seeking its first-ever NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship victory. The Lady Flames are 0-4 in four previous tournament appearances (1997, 1999, 2001 & 2007) and won a set for the first time last season, versus No. 10 national seed California.

Looking Back at Last Year
Liberty traveled to Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C., on Nov. 30, 2007, for its first NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship match since 2001. The Lady Flames were paired with No. 10 national seed California in the first round. Liberty and Cal split the first two sets, before the Golden Bears, an evenual Final Four qualifier, pulled out a 3-1 win. Liberty's Nicki Scripko tallied a team-high 18 kills, while setter Kallie Corbin ended with five kills, 40 assists, 12 digs and four blocks for the Lady Flames.

Scouting Nebraska
Nebraska, seeded No. 4 nationally, captured a share of its fifth consecutive Big 12 Conference title, with an 18-2 conference record. The Cornhuskers are no stranger to the NCAA Tournament, as they will be making their 27th appearance all-time.

Nebraska has won three national championships, the most recent of which came in 2006, when the current seniors were sophomores. One of the Huskers' three seniors, 6-2 outside hitter Jordan Larson, is Nebraska's featured performer.

Larson, a two-time AVCA All-American, was recently named both the Big 12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. She is averaging 4.11 kills and 3.23 digs per set, ranking among the conference's top 10 in both categories.

Sophomore setter Sydney Anderson was another major award winner at the conference level, taking home the Newcomer of the Year plaque. The Big 12 leader in assists with 11.87 per set, She came to Nebraska after spending the 2007 season with the USA National Program in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Huskers' other two first-team all-conference honorees were 6-2 junior middle blocker Kori Cooper and 6-0 sophomore outside hitter Tara Mueller. Cooper suffered an ACL injury near the end of the regular season and will be unavailable for the tournament.

The Huskers enjoy a notable home-court advantage at the 4,030-seat Nebraska Coliseum, where they have sold out 118 consecutive matches. Nebraska has won 85 straight contests at its home facility, and the current senior class is 70-0 at home in the last four years.

The Coaching Matchup
Liberty Head Coach Shane Pinder is 84-76 in his fifth season with the Lady Flames. The 2007 Big South and VaSID Coach of the Year has guided Liberty to its first-ever back-to-back Big South titles. The Lady Flames are 52-17 in the past two seasons under his direction, marking the most victories over a two-year span during Liberty's NCAA Division I era.

John Cook owns a very impressive record of 277-18 in his ninth season as Nebraska's head coach and is 438-91 in his 16th season as a collegiate head coach. He has guided the Huskers to a pair of national titles (2000 and 2006) and is a two-time AVCA Division I National Coach of the Year (2000 and 2005). This season, he captured his third Big 12 Coach of the Year certificate.

Liberty-Nebraska Head-to-Head Series Notes
Liberty and Nebraska are meeting for the first time, Friday evening.

Liberty Versus the Big 12 Conference
The Lady Flames are in search of their first-ever victory against a Big 12 foe. Liberty is 0-6 versus current Big 12 members, including 0-1 against Kansas, 0-1 against Kansas State, 0-1 against Oklahoma, 0-1 against Texas and 0-2 against Texas Tech.

Liberty has played one Big 12 team this season, facing Kansas State on Sept. 13 at the Varney's Kansas State Invitational. The Lady Flames and Wildcats split the first two sets, but Kansas State took a 3-1 victory, despite Jessica Nelson's team-high 14 kills.

Looking Ahead

If Liberty defeats Nebraska on Friday, the Lady Flames would advance to play the winner of Friday's Missouri State-UAB matchup on Saturday. Liberty has never faced either squad on the volleyball court.

Liberty in the NCAA Tournament
Liberty is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship and is a tournament participant for the second season in a row. Here is a look at the Lady Flames' first four postseason appearances.

1997 NCAA Tournament
The Lady Flames went 26-9, capturing their first Big South title and making their initial NCAA Tournament appearance, under head coach Chris Phillips. Led by first-team all-conference middle blocker Anthonia Akpama and Big South Tournament MVP Ashley Fletcher, the Lady Flames traveled to Fayetteville, Ark., on Dec. 5. Liberty's first NCAA foe was Notre Dame, who handed the Lady Flames a 3-0 setback.

1999 NCAA Tournament
Two years later, Liberty went 22-10 and returned to the NCAA Tournament after upsetting Radford in the Big South Championship title contest. Anthonia Akpama was tabbed Big South Player of the Year, but could not keep the Lady Flames from falling at Florida, 3-0, on Dec. 2.

2001 NCAA Tournament
Liberty finished the year 21-11, after claiming its third conference crown in five seasons. The Lady Flames were led by Big South Tournament MVP Rachel Harnack and Big South Rookie of the Year (and current asisstant coach) Jennifer (Belk) Vaden. Liberty was sent to Durham, N.C., for its first-round match, where the Lady Flames suffered a 3-0 loss to USC on Nov. 30.

2007 NCAA Tournament
The Lady Flames enjoyed a memorable season, snapping Winthrop's 63-match Big South winning streak and the Eagles' five-year stranglehold on the Big South title. Big South Tournament MVP Kallie Corbin and Big South Freshman of the Year Nicki Scripko led Big South Coach of the Year Shane Pinder's Lady Flames back to Durham, N.C., for the first round of the NCAA Tournament. On Nov. 30, Liberty won its first-ever set in the NCAA Division I Volleyball Championship, before California wrapped up a 3-1 triumph.

Big South in the NCAA Tournament
Big South Conference members have never won a NCAA Tournament match in volleyball. Liberty and Winthrop are the only two conference squads to win a set, as the Eagles lost to Northern Iowa, 3-1, in the first round of the 2006 tournament.

Liberty Versus the 2008 NCAA Tournament Field
Liberty faced three 2008 NCAA Tournament participants during the regular season, going 0-3 in those matches. The Lady Flames faced all three teams--Northern Iowa, Kansas State and Western Michigan--within the span of eight days in September.

On Sept. 13 at the Varney's Kansas State Invitational, Liberty played both Northern Iowa and Kansas State. The Panthers defeated the Lady Flames, 3-0, while the homestanding Wildcats earned a 3-1 decision in the nightcap.

Liberty faced Western Michigan exactly one week later, at Notre Dame's Golden Dome Invitational in South Bend, Ind. The Broncos dealt the Lady Flames a 3-1 setback.

Experience Before Big Crowds
A sell-out crowd of more than 4,000 fans is expected at the Nebraska Coliseum on Friday. It will be the largest crowd Liberty has played in front of this season. The Lady Flames played before 1,505 spectators at Kansas State on Sept. 13, representing Liberty's previous season high. Last year, Liberty set a Big South single-match attendance record of 1,622 for the Lady Flames' 3-0 home sweep of Radford on Nov. 10, 2007.

Liberty was part of a three-way tie for the Big South regular-season title, as the Lady Flames finished with the same 13-3 record as Coastal Carolina and High Point. The Lady Flames captured consecutive conference regular-season crowns for the first time since the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

Lucky 13
The Lady Flames' 13 Big South wins equaled the most in program history. The 2003 Liberty squad finished 13-1 in Big South Conference play.

Sweeping Up the Competition
Since the start of the 2007 season, Liberty is 29-4 versus Big South opponents, and the Lady Flames have recorded 24 3-0 sweeps of conference foes. Meanwhile, Liberty has not been swept by a Big South team since Oct. 21, 2006, at Charleston Southern.

Eight Blocks is Enough
Liberty is 15-1 this season, when notching at least eight blocks in a match.

2008 Individual Awards and Honors

#5 Kallie Corbin
Big South Player of the Year (First setter to win award since 1995)
Big South Tournament MVP (First player in conference history to win back-to-back)
First-team All-Big South (Second year in a row)
Big South All-Tournament Team (Second year in a row)
Big South Player of the Week (Oct. 27) Top Performer (Nov. 18 & 25)
Preseason All-Big South Team
Became first Lady Flame ever to post 3,500 assists and 1,000 digs during career

#7 Chelaine McCarty
Second-team All-Big South (Second year in a row)
Big South leader in attack percentage (.351)
Big South Player of the Week (Oct. 13)
VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational All-Tournament Team
Patriot Invitational All-Tournament Team
Varney's Kansas State Invitational All-Tournament Team
Golden Dome Invitational All-Tournament Team
Big South All-Academic Team

#8 Karyl Bacon
Big South All-Tournament Team

#9 Ashley Webber
Set school single-match record for attack percentage (.875 at Winthrop, Oct. 17)

#10 Kelly Haseman
Big South All-Freshman Team (Fifth straight year Liberty has had an All-Freshman rep)

#13 Nicki Scripko
Second-team All-Big South
Big South All-Tournament Team (Second year in a row)
Big South Player of the Week (Sept. 29)
Preseason All-Big South Team
VCU Third Degree Sportswear Invitational All-Tournament Team
Patriot Invitational All-Tournament Team

#14 Jessica Nelson
Became eighth Lady Flame ever to post 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs during career