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Lady Flames Open Big South Play at Radford

September 21, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Freshman Gabrielle Shipe has been a regular contributor to the Lady Flames, currently ranking third on the team in digs.

Freshman Gabrielle Shipe has been a regular contributor to the Lady Flames, currently ranking third on the team in digs.

Complete Match Notes

Liberty and Radford meet in each team's first Big South volleyball match of the 2011 campaign, Friday at 7 p.m. at RU's Dedmon Center.

The Lady Flames (5-9) have opened up the conference schedule more times against Radford (4-8), seven, than any other opponent. Liberty holds a 4-3 edge over the Highlanders when the two teams meet in the Big South opener. Most recently, Liberty began the conference schedule with wins over Radford each year from 2005-07.

Liberty at a Glance
The Lady Flames competed in a tightly-contested match Tuesday at James Madison, falling to the Dukes, 3-1. Liberty totaled a season-high 85 digs to go with 11 blocks in a defensive battle. Kelly Haseman collected a season-best 26 digs, while Loren Thomas contributed five blocks. Lillie Happel and Jade Craycraft both posted double-doubles in the match, with Craycraft setting a career high in digs at 14.

Liberty begins its defense of the Big South regular-season championship Friday. The Lady Flames have won or shared each of the last four regular-season conference titles, tying the Big South record held by the 2004-07 Winthrop Eagles. 

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Friday's match between Liberty and Radford will be available for viewing for a charge through a live video stream via the Big South Network. Live stats can be accessed through a link in the right hand schedule column on

Big South Opener
All-time in Big South openers, Liberty is 15-5, having won the last six conference openers and 12 out of the last 13. The most recent conference-opening setback came Sept. 25, 2004 at Birmingham-Southern.

Entering Friday, the Lady Flames have played their first conference match away from Lynchburg 14 out of their 20 seasons in the Big South. Liberty is 6-0 when the conference opener is at home, 8-4 away, and 1-1 in neutral-site league lid-lifters.

At The Top
Liberty ranks first in the Big South in attack percentage (.195) and blocks (2.42 bps). Individually, Lillie Happel paces the conference with 3.83 kills per set and is tied for fourth with 0.37 aces per set. Kendle Rollins is second in the league in blocks (1.11 bps) and third in hitting percentage (.328). Loren Thomas is rated fourth with a 1.04 blocks per set average, while Kelly Haseman is sixth with 4.13 digs per set.

Almost There
Senior libero Kelly Haseman has registered 1,710 career digs, and is just 30 shy of breaking the program record of 1,739 digs, set by Nikki Keznor (1991-94). She is also the eighth Big South player all-time to record 1,700 or more digs. Haseman is 17 digs away from passing the seventh player to total 1,700 digs, High Point's Audie Gonzalez.

The Three Rivers, Mich., native is the only player at Liberty with back-to-back 500-dig seasons.

Dig In
Liberty totaled a season-high 85 digs Tuesday at James Madison. The Lady Flames' 85 digs were their most in a single match that lasted fewer than five sets since registering 87 in a 3-0 victory at High Point Nov. 11, 2008.

Kelly Haseman collected a season-high 26 digs, sending her over the 1,700 mark in career digs. Lillie Happel added 15 digs and Jade Craycraft set a career high with 14.

Climbing the Charts
Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas entered the top 10 on Liberty's career blocks list with five blocks Tuesday, as she has totaled 245 blocks, passing Kallie Corbin (2004-07). Thomas recorded a career-high-tying three solo blocks Friday at N.C. State. She has contributed 42 solo blocks in her career, fourth among all Liberty players since 2001.

Thomas also posted her 500th career kill Friday at N.C. State.

Double-Doubles Abound
At least one Liberty player has posted a double-double in each of the last three matches.
Lillie Happel registered 13 kills and 10 digs Saturday vs. Towson.

Courtney Boggs then recorded 33 assists and 11 digs Saturday against The Citadel, the seventh double-double in her career and first since Nov. 27, 2009 versus Delaware.

On Tuesday, Happel (15 kills, 15 digs) and Jade Craycraft (24 assists, 14 digs) both recorded double-doubles. The sophomores have recorded double-doubles in the same match four times during their careers.

Bonus Volleyball
Liberty and James Madison traded 26-24 wins during the first two sets of JMU's 3-1 win Tuesday. The Lady Flames' longest set of the season was a 30-28 set three win over North Carolina Sept. 3. That set was capped by a Becca Haraf front-row kill, making Liberty the only team at the Western Michigan invitational to take a set from UNC. Overall, Liberty is 4-3 in extended sets this season.

Scouting Radford
Radford brings a 4-8 record into Friday's match. The Highlanders posted a 1-2 record this past weekend at the Spartan Spiketacular, defeating Howard before dropping matches to Memphis and UNC Greensboro. Radford ranks fourth in the Big South with 2.02 blocks per set and the team is third in aces at 1.44 per set.

Emma Deininger has been named Big South Freshman of the Week twice this season, and she is rated second in the Big South with a .338 hitting percentage. Rachel Brummitt, tabbed Big South Defensive Player of the Week Aug. 29, paces the conference with 4.86 digs per set. Megan McWhorter leads RU in kills, averaging 2.97 per set. Carly Fleming ranks third in the league with a .313 attack percentage.

Coaching Matchup
Highlanders head coach Marci Jenkins is in her fourth season leading Radford and has posted a  36-69 overall record, including 11-21 last season. Liberty head coach Shane Pinder has posted a 134-109 record and is in his eighth season, having led the Lady Flames to two Big South tournament championships, and four straight 20-win seasons and Big South regular-season titles. The Lady Flames have gone 14-0 against Radford under eighth-year head coach Shane Pinder, including a 6-0 record against Jenkins.

Series History
Liberty hold a 36-25 overall record against Radford in volleyball. Liberty has won each of the last 19 meetings with the Highlanders. The Lady Flames' longest active series winning streak began with a 3-0 win over Radford in the Big South final Nov. 17, 2001.

Radford's most recent win over Liberty came Nov. 6, 2001, a 3-2 Highlanders victory at the Vines Center. That result was RU's fourth straight over the Lady Flames, a streak that began during the 2000 season.

Last Meeting - Liberty vs. Radford
Liberty won both meetings with Radford last season, starting with a 3-0 home sweep Oct. 5.

The Lady Flames then defeated the Highlanders, 3-1, Nov. 9 at Dedmon Center, clinching a fourth straight Big South regular-season title. Liberty was led by Lillie Happel's then-career-high 19 kills. Kelly Haseman's 27 digs put her at 566 on the season, breaking her own program rally-scoring record. Carly Fleming hit .625 for the Highlanders, connecting on 10 of 16 swings with no errors.