CHARLESTON, S.C. - One year after missing out on the postseason, Charleston Southern is back in the tournament as the Lady Bucs travel to Boiling Springs, N.C., on Thursday afternoon to take on Liberty in the first round of the Big South Volleyball Championships. First serve between the Lady Bucs and the Lady Flames is set for noon.
The winner of Thursday's match will advance to a semifinal contest on Friday at 4:30 p.m., versus the winner of the match between No. 4 seed Presbyterian College and No. 5 seed Winthrop. The championship match will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the winning team advancing to the 2012 NCAA Division I Women's Volleyball Championship.
The Lady Bucs (13-20) earned the eighth-seed in the tournament courtesy of their regular season finale victory over Campbell as Charleston Southern finished the season with five victories in Big South Conference play to earn the final bid into the postseason. The Lady Bucs enter the postseason having advanced to the semifinal round in each of their past two appearances in the conference tournament.
CSU draws a tough test in the first round in top-seed Liberty (22-7) as the Lady Flames finished 12-2 overall in the Big South standings this season in earning the overall top-seed for the third consecutive season, finishing two wins ahead of Coastal Carolina for the top spot.
In their lone matchup on the 2012 season, Liberty traveled to the Buccaneer Field House on October 12th and the teams pushed each other to the limit before the Lady Flames were able to hold off CSU in the fifth set in recording the 25-22, 21-25, 23-25, 25-17, 15-5 victory.
Charleston Southern took control of the match in the second and third sets, winning both against Liberty to take the lead against the Lady Flames as the Lady Bucs were led by the play of Sydney Tracy, Kayla Klinger and Meredith Parrott as the trio combined for 46 kills in the match. However, Liberty battled back in the fourth set behind seven kills by Caroline Douglas to set it to a fifth frame.
In the fifth set, the Lady Bucs attack ran out of steam and Liberty's Gabrielle Shipe served in back-to-back service aces as the visitors escaped with the five-set victory.
For the Lady Bucs, senior middle blocker Wynter Davis ranks fourth in the Big South with 1.01 blocks per set and is 10th in the conference with a .274 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Sydney Tracy is third in the conference with 0.38 aces per set. Junior outside hitter Kayla Klinger leads CSU in kills with 2.52 kills per set, while sophomore libero Ashley Higgenbothem leads the Buccaneers with 413 digs. Sophomore setter Kirsten Struksnes has 909 assists on the season, including four matches with 50+ assists.
For Liberty, Carolina Douglas led the Big South in both overall kills and kills per set in pacing the Lady Flames offense to a .252 team hitting percentage on the season. Douglas averaged 3.67 kills per set with 404 kills on the season, mostly set up by Jade Craycraft's 9.56 assists per set. Becca Haraf led the Lady Flames with 34 service aces, while Shipe led the Lady Flames defensive efforts with 4.06 digs per set. At the net, Kendle Rollins led the way with 1.01 blocks per set on the season.