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Lady Flames to Open Season at Virginia Tech

August 26, 2009  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Chelaine McCarty and the Lady Flames will play a trio of matches this Friday and Saturday at the Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational.

Chelaine McCarty and the Lady Flames will play a trio of matches this Friday and Saturday at the Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational.

Live Stats

Live Audio for Liberty vs. Virginia Tech match (Virginia Tech All-Access)

The two-time defending Big South champion Liberty volleyball team will travel across the Commonwealth this weekend, to open its 2009 season at the Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational in Blacksburg, Va.

The Lady Flames will face UNC Greensboro Friday afternoon, in the first of their three matches at the tournament. Liberty will then meet Montana and host Virginia Tech on Saturday to close out the two-day event.

Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational Schedule (2008 records in parentheses)
Blacksburg, Va. (Cassell Coliseum)

Friday, Aug. 28
4 p.m. – UNC Greensboro (23-10, 14-4 Southern) vs. Liberty (25-9, 13-3 Big South)
7 p.m. – Montana (14-13, 10-6 Big Sky) at Virginia Tech (20-11, 11-9 ACC)

Saturday, Aug. 29
10 a.m. – Montana vs. Liberty
Noon – UNC Greensboro at Virginia Tech
5 p.m. – Montana vs. UNC Greensboro
7 p.m. – Liberty at Virginia Tech

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Live stats will be available for all Hilton Garden Hokie Invitational matches, courtesy of the Virginia Tech Athletics Communications office. They are accessible by clicking "Live Stats" on the Liberty volleyball schedule/results page, or by clicking the link at the top of this page.

Virginia Tech will also provide live streaming audio for each of the Hokies' three tournament matches, through the Hokies' All-Access feature. Click "Live Audio" on the Liberty volleyball schedule/results page or the link at the top of this page to access the Liberty-Virginia Tech radio broadcast Saturday at 7 p.m.

A Look at Liberty
The Liberty Lady Flames, coached by Shane Pinder (84-77, entering his sixth season), are coming off of a 25-9 Big South Championship season in 2008. With a trio of all-conference performers returning to this year's team, expectations are sky high for the 2009 Lady Flames.

Liberty was tabbed the unanimous choice to win the 2009 Big South Conference title by the league's head coaches. Additionally, senior setter Kallie Corbin, senior middle blocker Chelaine McCarty and junior outside hitter Nicki Scripko were voted to the preseason All-Big South roster. Corbin, an honorable mention All-American last season, was named the Big South Preseason Player of the Year.

The Lady Flames' other returning starters include junior outside hitter Karyl Bacon and sophomore libero Kelly Haseman. Bacon was voted to the 2008 Big South All-Tournament team, while Haseman earned a spot on the 2008 Big South All-Freshman team.

Pinder's 2009 roster is bolstered by the addition of five incoming freshmen. The newest Lady Flames include outside hitters Hannah Anderson and Erica Manor, middle blockers Kendle Rollins and Loren Thomas and setter Lauren Bosché.

Season Openers
The Lady Flames will attempt to win their third consecutive season opener, Friday versus UNC Greensboro. Liberty began the 2007 season with a 3-0 sweep of Howard, and blanked N.C. State, 3-0, in its 2008 opener.

Getting Off to a Fast Start
Last season, Liberty began the year with eight consecutive victories, including triumphs over N.C. State, Maryland and James Madison. The 8-0 start was the Lady Flames' best since joining the NCAA Division I ranks, prior to the 1988 season.

ACC Opposition
The Lady Flames defeated both of their ACC opponents last season, taking down N.C. State and Maryland during the season-opening Third Degree Sportswear Invitational at VCU. This season, three ACC foes (Duke, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest) appear on Liberty's schedule, beginning with Saturday evening's match at Virginia Tech.

Aces are Wild
Liberty has served for at least one ace in 114 consecutive matches. The streak started Oct. 7 at Charleston Southern, before any of the current Lady Flames players were on the roster. In 2008, Liberty ranked second in the Big South Conference with 1.51 aces per set and Corbin was second among conference players, serving for 0.37 aces per set.

First Out of the Gate
The volleyball team will be Liberty's first athletic squad to officially open competition this year, with its 4 p.m. Friday match versus UNC Greensboro. The Lady Flames women's soccer team will follow with its 2009 lid-lifter, three hours later at Virginia.

4,000 in Sight
Corbin enters the 2009 season with 3,843 career assists, leaving the setter only 157 helpers shy of the 4,000 mark. Only three Lady Flames—Kristin Colson, Ashley Fletcher and Michelle Howland—have ever tallied 4,000 career assists.

The Big South Beat
All nine Big South volleyball teams will open the 2009 season this weekend, at various tournaments across the country. Two conference squads—High Point and UNC Asheville—will both participate in North Carolina Central's Hilton RTP/NCCU Volleyball Tournament, but will not face each other.

Coastal Carolina, picked to finish second in the Big South standings, will trek to West Lafayette, Ind., for a challenging opening weekend. The Chanticleers are slated to play a pair of 2008 NCAA Tournament qualifiers, No. 19 Purdue and Dayton, at the Mortar Board Premier tournament.

Winthrop will also face some stiff competition at this weekend's Big Orange Bash in Clemson, S.C. All three of the Eagles' opponents (Clemson, College of Charleston and South Carolina) won more than 20 matches a year ago.

Scouting Reports
UNC Greensboro
The UNC Greensboro Spartans of the Southern Conference are coached by Patrick Nicholas, who was just hired on July 30. He came to UNC Greensboro after spending the last two seasons as an assistant coach at Marshall. Nicholas boasts a 130-110 career record in eight years as a collegiate head coach, split between tenures at Lehigh and Troy.

The Spartans, who went 23-10 in 2008, were picked to finish third in the Southern Conference's North Division this season. The team's only two players who hail from the Commonwealth of Virginia—junior middle blocker Kayren Finney and senior libero Catherine Hanners—were both included on the preseason all-conference squad.

Liberty and UNC Greensboro have split their 20 all-time meetings, 10-10. The Spartans were victorious in each of their last two matchups with the Lady Flames, including a 3-1 victory at UNC Greensboro on Oct. 10, 2006. That evening, Hanners set a program record for a four-set match with 36 digs, while Liberty's Kallie Corbin racked up a career-high 26 digs of her own.

Montana head coach Jerry Wagner enters his fourth season at the helm with a 36-44 record. The Grizzlies, who went 14-13 a season ago, were tabbed for a fourth-place finish in the Big Sky Conference.

Four Grizzlies return after claiming conference accolades last year. Junior middle blocker Jamie Thibeault was a first-team All-Big Sky perfomer, while senior setter Taryn Wright and junior outside hitter Amy Roberts both made the second team. Junior libero Brittney Brown was honored as the Big Sky's Top Newcomer.

The Grizzlies will be a bit short-handed in Blacksburg, as Thibeault will not be traveling with the team. She will instead represent Alberta in this weekend's Canada Games, being contested on Prince Edward Island.

Liberty and Montana will be meeting for the first time in volleyball. In fact, the Lady Flames have only faced one current Big Sky member in program history. Liberty dropped a 3-0 decision at Northern Arizona on Sept. 19, 2003.

Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech, picked to finish sixth in the ACC, is coached by Chris Riley. Riley is 51-43 in three seasons with the Hokies and 195-97 in eight total years of collegiate head coaching.

Last season, Virginia Tech finished 20-11, recording the team's first 20-win season since 2002. Junior middle blocker Felicia Willoughby highlights the Hokies' returnees. She led the ACC with a .402 attack percentage last year and was an honorable mention All-American. Sophomore setter Erin Leaser, who finished her freshman year with 1,084 assists, was the 2008 Virginia Sports Information Directors (VaSID) Rookie of the Year.

Virginia Tech has played Liberty more often (41 times) than any other opponent than Virginia. The Hokies are 35-6 all-time versus the Lady Flames, including 21-1 at home. However, the teams are 4-4 in their eight most recent contests. The Commonwealth foes are facing one another for the first time since a 3-1 Virginia Tech victory in Blacksburg, Sept. 9, 2006 at the Hokie Invitational.