Liberty volleyball hosts Radford, Friday at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center. Friday's match will served as the Lady Flames' "Dig Pink" breast cancer awareness contest.
Complete Match Notes Liberty hosts Commonwealth opponent Radford, Friday at 7 p.m. in the Vines Center, in a rematch of the teams' Big South opener. On Sept. 23, the Lady Flames (13-11, 8-1 Big South) defeated the Highlanders (11-13, 5-4), 3-2, in the Dedmon Center. That match saw Liberty post a program rally-scoring-record 20.5 team blocks, with Loren Thomas recording 12 blocks and Jade Craycraft contributing 10 blocks. The Lady Flames lead the Big South by one match over Winthrop, while Radford is in fourth place in the conference.
Dig Pink Friday's match will serve as Liberty's "Dig Pink" contest. Flames fans are encouraged to wear pink to Friday's match to support National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. All Flames fans who wear pink in support will receive discounted admission for only $1. Fans dressed in pink will also be able to participate in the intermission serve challenge between the second and third set.
Liberty at a Glance The Lady Flames earned the Big South lead outright with a 3-2 win at Winthrop, Friday night, holding the Eagles to a .055 attack percentage while posting 17 team blocks. Liberty then downed Presbyterian College in straight sets on Saturday. Loren Thomas was named Big South Defensive Player of the Week, after totaling a program rally-scoring-record 13 blocks on Friday at Winthrop. Liberty ranks first in the Big South and is 30th in the nation with a 2.58 blocks per set average. Thomas ranks 20th nationally with 1.35 blocks per set. The Lady Flames are 8-2 in their last 10 matches after starting the season, 5-9.
How to Follow the Lady Flames Friday night's match can be viewed through live video streaming via the Flames Sports Network and the Big South Network. Ray Jones will provide play-by-play commentary, with Erin McKeown serving as the color analyst. Live stats will be available, and can be accessed through links on LibertyFlames.com. Thomas Named Big South Defensive Player of the Week Loren Thomas earned her third Big South Defensive Player of the Week mention of the year, being honored by the conference on Monday. Thomas, the Big South leader in blocks, contributed 18 blocks during a pair of pivotal Big South road wins. She has posted 112 total blocks this season, a number that ranks third on the single-season Liberty blocks record listing for the rally scoring era, and eighth all-time.
Chasing History Senior libero Kelly Haseman, the program record holder for digs, became the sixth player in Big South history with 1,800 or more career digs, Friday. At 1,825, she is just nine digs away from surpassing Carrie O'Connell of Charleston Southern into fifth all-time. Junior middle blocker Loren Thomas is now in seventh place in program history with 309 career blocks. She is five blocks shy of sixth, held by Liberty Athletics Hall of Famer Theresa Bream, and is within nine blocks of entering the top five. Sophomore setter Jade Craycraft is also closing in on Bream, as Craycraft is ninth all-time at Liberty with 1,884 assists. Bream ranks eighth with 1,904 career assists.
Team Effort For the second time this season, Friday at Winthrop, Jade Craycraft (42 assists, 16 digs), Loren Thomas (12 kills, 13 blocks) and Lillie Happel (14 kills, 15 digs) all had double-doubles in the same match. Melissa Racz came through with a career-best 12 kills, hitting .391. Fellow freshman Ansley Gebben set career highs with six blocks and 15 digs.
Dig In Liberty recorded a season-high 90 digs Friday at Winthrop, helping the team hold the Eagles to a .055 hitting percentage. The Lady Flames' 90 digs were the most by the team in a Big South match since collecting 90 digs in a 3-2 win Nov. 14, 2009 at Charleston Southern. On Friday, Kelly Haseman led with 25 digs, followed by Jade Craycraft with 16, Lillie Happel and Ansley Gebben with 15 digs apiece, and Gabrielle Shipe with nine digs.
Stifling Defense During Big South play, Liberty allows teams to hit just .131, while averaging 2.81 blocks, leading the conference in both statistics. The Lady Flames' opponents are attacking at a .083 clip during Liberty's current four-match winning streak, and the team averages 3.08 blocks per set over that span. Six Liberty players have at least one 10-dig match, while four players posted at least one five-block match in the last four contests.
First Time . . . Loren Thomas posted 13 blocks, Friday at Winthrop, becoming the first Lady Flame to have two 10-block matches during the same season during the rally scoring era. Kelly Haseman collected 25 digs at Winthrop on Friday, registering the 12th 25-dig match of her career, the most 25-dig matches by a Lady Flame since 2001. Liberty's 20.5 blocks, Sept. 23 at Radford, marked the first 20-block match in a Big South contest since Winthrop recorded 20 blocks Oct. 22, 2004 at Coastal Carolina. Thomas and Jade Craycraft both entered double-figures in blocks, Sept. 23, making them the first Big South teammates with 10 blocks in the same match since Laura Obert and Jennifer Hampton of Coastal Carolina did so, Nov. 21, 2004 at Winthrop. Fast Start Liberty has tied its best record through nine Big South matches in program history. This is the ninth time in 21 years (.429) as a member of the Big South that the Lady Flames have opened the conference schedule at 8-1. The previous eight 8-1 starts (1997-99, 2001, 2003, 2007-08, 2010) all occurred within the last 14 seasons (.571).
Home Sweet Home Liberty is 31-3 in Big South regular-season home matches, dating back to the 2007 season. The team went 7-1 in conference matches inside the Vines Center during each of the last three seasons, and posted a perfect 6-0 in Big South home matches in 2007. The Lady Flames currently hold an 11-match conference home winning streak, including a 4-0 Big South home mark this season. The longest conference home winning streak in program history was 18 matches, lasting from Oct. 15, 1996 through Nov. 9, 1999. Scouting Radford Radford (11-13) enters the weekend in fourth place in the Big South with a 5-4 conference record. The Highlanders reeled off three straight conference wins before falling at Winthrop, Saturday. Radford ranks third in the Big South in both blocks per set (2.04) and in service aces per set (1.39). Middle blocker Emma Deininger has been named Big South Freshman of the Week four times this season, and she is rated third in the Big South with a .305 hitting percentage and 1.01 blocks per set. Freshman Rachel Brummitt, three-time Big South Defensive Player of the Week, leads the Big South with 5.14 digs per set. Carly Fleming is fourth in the conference in hitting percentage (.285) and blocks per set (0.92). Coaching Matchup Highlanders head coach Marci Jenkins, is in her fourth season leading Radford and has posted a 43-74 overall record, including 11-21 last season. Liberty head coach Shane Pinder has posted a 142-111 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. Pinder's Liberty team has defeated Jenkins' Highlanders all seven meetings since Jenkins took the helm at Radford in 2008.
Series History Liberty holds a 37-25 overall record against Radford in volleyball, and the Lady Flames have won each of the last 20 meetings with the Highlanders. Radford's most recent win over Liberty in volleyball came Nov. 6, 2001, a 3-2 Highlanders victory in the Vines Center. The Lady Flames have gone 15-0 against Radford under eighth-year head coach Shane Pinder.
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