Volleyball looks to continue consistency in Jacksonville
Lipscomb (7-5, 1-1 A-Sun)
Jacksonville (11-2, 2-1 A-Sun)
9/27/2013 | Jacksonville, Fla. | Attendance: 282
Lipscomb22252213 --
Jacksonville25202525 --
Stats at a GlanceLIPJU
Hitting Pct..207.241
Total Attacks145145
Statistical LeadersLIPJU
KillsFORD - 16
AssistsDOTSON - 39
AcesOSTROM - 1
DigsDOTSON - 15
BlocksDOBSON - 5

Thursday, September 26, 2013
by Mark McGee

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Consistency is the key word for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team.

This weekend the Purple and Gold, 7-4, 1-0 in the Atlantic Sun, return to conference play. Friday at 6 p.m. they face Jacksonville, 10-2, 1-1. Saturday they play North Florida, 3-9, 0-2 in the A-Sun.

“This is one of the most consistent teams we have ever had,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “For us, as coaches, it is awesome to know where you are going to be at every day in every match.

“The credit goes to our players because they are able to get up for those matches and continue to bring it. If you play consistent in the beginning of the season and play consistent in the middle you are going to start separating yourself from the rest of the teams.” 

The Lady Bisons are averaging 15.71 kills per set. They are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the category for the second straight week.

Middle blocker Jewell Dobson remains in seventh place nationally with 4.8 kills per set. She has a total of 170.

The Lady Bisons are third in assists per set with 14.34. Setter Caitlin “Dot” Dotson is second in assists per set with 12.69.

Dobson is eighth in the nation with 5.3 points per set.

The Lady Bisons have impressive numbers but they head into the weekend working for ways to replace the numbers put up by middle blocker Molly Spitznagle, third on the team in kills with 94. Outside hitter Lauren Ford is second with 126.

Sptiznagle is out indefinitely after spraining an ankle during warm-ups for the match with Kentucky last Saturday.

“We have given a time frame that is very general,” Rosenthal said. “Alicia Grover, our trainer, has done an outstanding job for us the past two seasons. I firmly believe it will be sooner rather than later.

“Molly wants to get back. There is a sense of urgency for her. She doesn’t like being injured.”

Rosenthal is taking a team approach to filling in the gap. He points to five players – outside hitters Ford and Brittnay Estes and middle blockers Dobson, Katie Bradley and Claire Peterson.

“We have players who have to change or detour their roles a little bit,” Rosenthal said. “The outsides have to take on more. Jewell has to maybe go up one more level. Claire and Brittnay have to do a little bit more. Katie Bradley is going to get more and more looks.

“Defensively, and passing-wise we have to do more. Our margin of era is smaller now. So it becomes this idea of it’s not just one person jumping in. It is a whole team thing and we have got this.  It is coach talk to say `all hands on deck’, but it has to be at this point.”

Bradley is making the biggest move in terms of possible playing time. Even though she is a freshman, Rosenthal thinks Bradley is ready for the challenge.

“Most of it stems from her competitiveness,” Rosenthal said. “That fire is building inside her.

“She is getting an opportunity. She has been working her way into getting more time. She has to get comfortable with the speed of the game. That will take care of itself as she plays more.”

Jacksonville is led by outside hitter Sammie Strausbaugh with 141 kills and 126 digs. Middle blocker Kylie Jacob has 108 kills and outside hitter Gabriela Roman has 105. Libero Rachel Miller has posted 111 digs followed by outside hitter Tyler Nyquist with 109.

 “Jacksonville is playing some consistent volleyball and sometimes consistent teams are the most dangerous,” Rosenthal said. “It should be interesting to see.”

North Florida is paced by outside hitter Anna Budinska with 148 kills and 111 digs. Defensive specialist Cari Whitmire is tops on the team in digs with 178.

“North Florida’s record doesn’t indicate who they are,” Rosenthal said. “They have a really young team. We definitely won’t take them lightly.”

Rosenthal stressed that playing the next two matches on the road will not be a factor for his team.

“We are getting into the rhythm of the season and there is some relief to that,” Rosenthal said. “We have a pretty good routine with this. Our formula is good. This is something we are looking forward to doing.

“Going on the road will be interesting for the new girls. But for the older girls this is what they are geared for.”