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Lady Flames Set to Begin Weekend at Winthrop

October 19, 2011  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty meets Winthrop, Friday at 7 p.m., a match featuring the two teams tied for the Big South lead. The Lady Flames then face Presbyterian College on Saturday afternoon.

Liberty meets Winthrop, Friday at 7 p.m., a match featuring the two teams tied for the Big South lead. The Lady Flames then face Presbyterian College on Saturday afternoon.

Complete Match Notes

Liberty meets Winthrop, Friday at 7 p.m. in Rock Hill, S.C., a match featuring the two teams currently tied for the Big South lead. The Lady Flames' (11-11, 6-1 Big South) last meeting with Winthrop (13-6, 6-1) saw Liberty come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the Big South semifinal, 3-2, Nov. 19, 2010 in Rock Hill. Liberty takes on Presbyterian College, Saturday at 2 p.m. in Clinton, S.C., where the Lady Flames downed the Blue Hose in five sets on Sept. 25, 2010.

Liberty at a Glance
The Lady Flames opened this past week with a non-conference setback to the VCU Rams on Tuesday. The team responded with Big South home wins over Coastal Carolina (3-1) and Charleston Southern (3-0) Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Liberty is tied for the Big South lead with Winthrop, as both teams have gone 6-1 in conference matches so far this season.

The Lady Flames have gone 7-3 in their last 10 matches, evening their record to 11-11 after opening the season at 4-8 with a challenging non-conference slate.

Liberty ranks first in the Big South and is 43rd in the nation with a 2.50 blocks per set average. Loren Thomas leads the conference with 1.25 blocks per set.

During conference play, Liberty holds opponents to a .150 hitting percentage, while recording 2.63 blocks and 15.62 digs per set.

After defeating Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern, the Lady Flames have now won 11 straight conference home matches, dating back to Oct. 2, 2010. The Lady Flames are 7-1 overall at the Vines Center this year, and 4-0 in Big South matches in Lynchburg.

Following this weekend's matches in South Carolina, Liberty returns home to Lynchburg, where the team will play its final three home contests in a row.

How to Follow the Lady Flames
Friday night's match at Winthrop will be available for viewing on the Big South Network. Both of this week's matches will have live stats provided, which can be accessed through links on

Chasing History
Senior libero Kelly Haseman set the program record for digs, Oct. 8 at Campbell. She now ranks sixth all-time in Big South history with 1,791 digs, just 43 digs away from surpassing Carrie O'Connell of Charleston Southern (1991-94) into fifth place.

Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas is now in seventh place in program history with 291 career blocks. She is 23 blocks shy of sixth, held by Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Theresa Bream.

Sophomore setter Jade Craycraft is also closing in on Bream, as Craycraft is ninth at Liberty with 1,822 assists. Bream ranks eighth with 1,904 career assists.

Jade Craycraft registered a triple-double with 10 kills, 43 assists and 11 digs, Nov. 19, 2010 at Winthrop in the Big South semifinal, becoming the first Lady Flame to record a triple-double under the current 25-point scoring format.

Lillie Happel added a double-double, marking the second time in three matches all-time against Winthrop that Happel and Craycraft each posted a double-double.

The team has displayed much balance this season. Five different players have posted at least one 10-kill match, and eight players have one 10-dig match or more to their credit in 2011. Kelly Haseman leads the Lady Flames with 15 double-digit dig matches. Lillie Happel paces the squad by entering double-figures in kills 15 times

Melissa Racz sent down a career-high 10 kills Friday, including kills on the final two points in the Lady Flames' 3-1 victory, to become the latest Lady Flame to attain 10 kills.

Top Marks
Liberty posted the top single-match hitting percentage in the Big South so far this season, hitting .484 on Sept. 17 vs. The Citadel. The Lady Flames registered 20.5 blocks Sept. 23 vs. Radford, the most blocks by a Big South team since Radford totaled 25 blocks Sept. 3, 2004 vs. Siena.

Lillie Happel recorded a career-high 25 kills, Sept. 2 against Seton Hall. She is one of three Big South players with 25 or more kills in a match this season. Happel is joined by Presley Mabrey (Presbyterian College) and Becca Toor (Winthrop).

Loren Thomas notched a program rally-scoring-record 12 blocks, Sept. 23 at Radford, while Jade Craycraft added 10 blocks. Thomas and Craycraft are the first Big South teammates with 10 blocks in the same conference match since Laura Obert (11) and Jennifer Hampton (10) of Coastal Carolina did so on Nov. 21, 2004 at Winthrop.

Defense Steps Up
The Lady Flames defense proved stingy during the two weekend matches. Friday night versus Coastal, Liberty totaled 10 team blocks, holding Coastal Carolina to a .109 attack percentage. On Saturday, the Lady Flames registered nine blocks as a team, and Charleston Southern hit .073 for the match.

Erica Manor posted career highs with three solo blocks and six total blocks on Friday, while Loren Thomas registered six blocks Saturday versus Charleston Southern. Manor and Thomas both have posted three solo blocks in a match this season, while Kendle Rollins also has one match with three solo blocks during her career.

Leading the Way
Liberty and Winthrop are the two winningest programs in Big South history. The two teams are tied for the most Big South tournament titles, with five each. Liberty ranks first with 173 Big South wins, compared to 170 for Winthrop.

Liberty vs. Winthrop
Winthrop currently holds a 13-6 record, including a 6-1 Big South mark. The Eagles' lone conference setback came at Gardner-Webb, Oct. 7. Winthrop is 5-0 at home this season, and has won its last 12 regular-season home matches. During Big South play, the Eagles rank first in the Big South in every statistical category except blocks.

Becca Toor, the Big South Preseason Player of the Year, leads the Big South with a .360 hitting percentage, and is third in kills per set (3.55) and fifth in blocks per set (0.91). Setter Stephanie Palmer posts 9.04 assists per set, and paces the conference with 12 double-doubles. Catherine Brusie ranks fifth in the league with 4.05 digs per set.

The Lady Flames are 25-17 all-time against Winthrop, including 7-10 under coach Pinder. Last season, Winthrop won both regular season meetings and led, 2-0, after two sets of the Big South Championship semifinal, Nov. 19 in Rock Hill, S.C. Liberty stormed back to down Winthrop, 3-2. Liberty is 6-2 in the last eight meetings versus Winthrop.

Winthrop is led by Julie Torbett, who joined the Eagles after totaling a Big South-record 304 wins during 17 seasons at UNC Asheville. Pinder holds a slight 9-8 edge over Torbett in head-to-head coaching matchups.

Liberty vs. Presbyterian College
Presbyterian College (8-14, 3-4 Big South) opened the conference schedule with back-to-back wins over Coastal Carolina and Charleston Southern, but the team has dropped four out of its last five Big South matches. The Blue Hose leads the conference with 11.39 assists per set, and is second with 12.16 kills per set.

Presley Mabrey, a member of the 2011 Preseason All-Big South team, leads the conference with 0.41 aces per set and ranks fourth in kills per set at 3.54. Ashtin Frank paces the league with 10.24 assists per set. Rachel Hall hits .289, good for fourth in the Big South. Mary Trimpe averages 3.86 digs, ranking eighth in the conference.

Liberty is 7-1 all-time versus Presbyterian College, with all eight meetings occurring since the start of the 2007 season. The Lady Flames have won the last four meetings against the Blue Hose. Presbyterian College's lone win against Liberty came on Nov. 8, 2008, a 3-2 Blue Hose victory in Clinton. Liberty downed Presbyterian College 3-2 in Clinton, Sept. 25, 2010, before sweeping the Blue Hose, Oct. 22, 2010 in the Vines Center.

Sixth-year head coach Chris Belshe has guided the Blue Hose to a 75-108 record, including a 20-win season in 2007.