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Volleyball starts slowly at North Florida, but rallies to 3-2 win

Friday, September 26, 2008

One streak was stopped, but one remains alive.

The Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team ended its string of perfect set scores in Atlantic Sun Conference games at 12, but more importantly they fought back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 decision Friday night at North Florida in Jacksonville. The win was their fifth straight in the A-Sun and their sixth straight overall.

“The story line would have been great if we could have gone 3-0 again,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “We knew we were going to face challenges. We not only faced a challenge and rose above it.”

The Lady Bisons lost the first set 25-20 and the second set 25-23 before rallying to win set three 25-14, set four 25-15 and set five 15-8.

“We came out real slow in the first two sets,” said Rosenthal. “I’m not sure if it was travel or the fact we had some people who haven’t been feeling well.

“North Florida did a nice job in the first set. We had a lead of four points and they called a time out. I told our players we had to do a better job of focusing on taking care of our side of the net. The very next point we had a mental error that led to North Florida going up by two points.”

Rosenthal stressed he was proud of the way his players responded in the final three sets.

“Between sets two and three there wasn’t a lot of yelling,” Rosenthal said. “It was very calm. I just said for them to show me their best. As a champion we are going to face battles.

“It is not whether you win or lose, but what you do with those battles. They all knew they had to step up their games. Defensively, after the first two sets we were down in digs and we really picked that up.”

Middle blocker Alex Kelly made a match-high 17 kills and also added 13 digs for a double-double. She also posted a .467 hitting percentage.

“Alex Kelly really did a number in sets three, four and five,” Rosenthal said. “She had seven kills after one and two.

“She is a competitor. She knew what needed to be done. We used her in the back row and she did a phenomenal job.”

Outside hitter Katie Bradley added 13 kills and middle blocker Katie Rose made 10.

“Katie Bradley played phenomenal,” Rosenthal said.

Libero Jessica Turner kept her string of double figure digs performances alive at six with a match-high 19. Setter Jake Pease made 12 digs.

“Jake really stepped up in three, four and five and kind of led the team,” Rosenthal said.

Opposite Erin Pierce had a match-high five service aces, also a season high for a Lady Bisons player this season.

The only substitutes for the Lady Bisons were defensive specialist Elly Kaiser and opposite Kaley Mohr, who each played one set.

“Elly came in for the second set and did a nice job of jumping in and passing,” Rosenthal said. “Kaley came in and did a great job. You can’t enough about them. Coming into a match like that is hard to do.”

Agata Dawidowicz made 15 kills for North Florida and Danielle Lerch added 11. Defensively, Lizzy Manno led North Florida with 15 digs. Kaley Read and Chelsea Rabe each made 10 digs.

The Lady Bisons will play at Jacksonville at 4 p.m. Saturday. This will be the first time the two teams have met since the Lady Bisons beat them 3-0 to take the Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship in Macon, Ga. The game has been labeled the A-Sun Game of the Week.

“I thought it would be the game of the week,” Rosenthal said. “Jacksonville knows us. It is going to be a matter of who takes the best care of the ball.”

The Lady Bisons are 7-6, 5-0 in the A-Sun. It is the first time the Lady Bisons have been above .500 overall this season. North Florida slipped to 6-5, 4-2 in the conference.

“This was good for us,” Rosenthal said. “I was pleased with the team effort all-around. I don’t want to go to five sets any more than we have to but the confidence we had in set five was great. We took care of the ball and did the little things, which is what we didn’t do in sets one and two.

“When you play against good teams and don’t do the little things you are going to lose. Day-in and day-out in this conference we have to bring our best. If we don’t , opponents are going to take advantage of that.”