LipscombSports.com
Rosenthal welcomes three top high school signees

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal has signed three players for the 2010 season, but he isn’t through with his recruiting efforts.

He expects to add one or two more to the list. But he is more than happy with the additions of Claire Peterson from Peoria, Ill.; and Sarah Ulinski and Caitlin “Dot” Dotson from Louisville, Ky.

Ulinski is a middle hitter and Dotson is a setter. They both play for (MAVA), one of the top club teams in the country. The duo reminds Rosenthal of Lady Bisons setter Stefine “Jake” Pease and middle hitter Alex Kelly. Both played for the same club team before joining the Lady Bisons and becoming two of the top performers in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

“We have had some success in years past with a setter-middle combination coming from the same club team,” said Rosenthal. “This is a really interesting group. I am completely excited about them, mostly because of the experience they bring.

“Sarah and Caitlin are on arguably one of the top teams in the country in club volleyball, the Mid-American Volleyball Association (MAVA). Claire also plays on one of the top club teams. When they come to practice on the first day there will be a lot of learn, but they will be ready.”

Peterson still refining her game: Peterson is a versatile player who could fill in as middle hitter, outside hitter or a right side.

She was also an outstanding performer in track and field for Dunlap High School where her father, Duane, serves as the track and field coach. She holds the school record in the long jump at 17 ½ feet. She finished ninth in the state in the long jump in Class 2-A.

Peterson, 5-foot-11, lettered three years in volleyball. She started the sport late, but quickly made an impact. She was captain of her team in 2007 and 2009. She was a unanimous first team all-conference selection in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was honorable mention all-region in 2008. She was named the team MVP her sophomore year.

Academically, she has also been honored with high honor roll status throughout her high school career. She is a member of the National Honor Society and is ranked first in her class.

Peterson reminds Rosenthal of Erin Pierce, an opposite who finished her career this season.

“Claire is a very athletic player,” said Rosenthal. “She hasn’t played volleyball all that long of a time. She has so much natural ability.

“She is a workhorse. It is always team first with her. She is soft-spoken. She just goes about her business.”

Ulinski known for her work ethic: Ulinski is from a large family with deep roots in athletics. Her grandfather played football at the University of Kentucky and for the Washington Redskins. Her father played basketball at Bellarmine University in Louisville. Her brother Dave is on the University of Kentucky football team.

Ulinski, 5-foot-11, plays for Dupont Manual High School. She is a three-time All-Region and All-District selection. She is the captain of her team for the 2009 season. In 2009 she won the “Ram Tough” Award.

Playing for the MAVA Elite team she was a member of the 14-Elite AAU National Championship team.

She has also been an academic award winner for three years.

“Sarah is a blue-collar player,” said Rosenthal. “She is one of those raw players who works hard in every situation. You are going to get her best effort day-in and day-out.

“She is going to get a chance to start from the get-go. What we need at that position is someone who is going to go after it. They might not make all of the right plays, but the players we have around her are going to lift her up. She is going to be able to make mistakes without those mistakes being glaring ones.”

Ulinski is also expected to bring a lot of energy to the team, both in games and in practice.

“Sarah is going to be fun to have around the program,” said Rosenthal. “She is a jokester.

“She is very workmanlike in her playing style. She gets the job done. She might have been overlooked by some schools. She will go through a learning period, but she is going to get better real fast.”

Dotson will prepare for setter role: Dotson, 5-foot-8, attends Sacred Heart Academy. Dotson earned first time All-State in 2008 and second team All-State in 2009. She was team captain in 2009. She was named to “Prep Volleyball’s” Top 250 seniors for 2009. She was the Freshman of the Year in 2006.

“Caitlin also plays for one of the top high school teams in the country at Sacred Heart,” said Rosenthal. “Her nickname is `Dot” and that is what she goes by.

“She has a lot of the same attributes as Jake. We were looking for someone to come in and learn from Jake for a year. Caitlin is very athletic and leads by example. She is probably a little more of a vocal player than Jake.”

Dotson’s experience at such a high level of the game has prepared her for almost any situation.

“She is one of those gritty players who really knows how to get the job done,” said Rosenthal. “When the pressure is on she wants the ball. She is not afraid of any situation. She is not going to give up an inch.

“We have had a lot of success the past three years at the setter position. Unfortunately, Jake cannot stay here forever. We had very specific parameters we were looking for, Caitlin just grabbed our attention.”

Rosenthal liked the way Dotson fights for every point. She also has a great knowledge of the game.

“She has a great knack for the game,” said Rosenthal. “She is very advanced in running the type of offense that we like. And who is better to teach our system to a new player than Jake. I think Caitlin is looking forward to being pushed.

“Next year in practice we will have two accomplished setters on each side of the net. We have talked about the intensity of practice we had this past season. I think that intensity will go up even more because we will be led by two great setters.”

In 2006 she was on the MAVA AAU National Championship Team. In 2007 MAVA finished second in AAU Championship.

She has also excelled academically. She is a member of both the National Honor Society and the Beta Club. She also won the 2009 Math Award.

Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations