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Tuesday, November 18, 2008They are Lipscomb volleyball’s version of a “dynamic” duo.
They don’t fight crime like Batman and Robin, but setter Stefine “Jake” Pease and middle blocker Alex Kelly, have done all they can this season to stop opponents of the Lady Bisons.
The two sophomores were awarded for their efforts as First Team Atlantic Sun All-Conference selections. Kelly, the only unanimous selection by the coaches and media for the first team, also became the first ever Lady Bison to be named A-Sun Player of the Year in volleyball.
“The play by Jake all year long has been really good,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “I think she has set herself up as the premier setter in the conference.”
Pease leads the Atlantic Sun overall in assists with 1,179, 10.16 per set. She also leads in A-Sun Conference games only with 762, 10.44 per set. But Rosenthal stresses that what Pease contributes to the team cannot always be measured with stats alone.
“There are so many intangibles that she brings to the court like her speed and what she is able to do with the ball,” said Rosenthal. “She can serve. She can play defense. She is the total package as a player.
“This award is very well-deserved for her. When you talk about players who give their very best everyday in practice she is at the top of the list. It is good to see people who work hard be rewarded.”
Kelly is first overall in the A-Sun in kills with 474, 4.09 per game. She has posted seven matches where she has posted a .500 or better hitting percentage. One of the main reasons for Kelly’s success is Pease. The two were teammates before they ever enrolled at Lipscomb.
“This year has been more understated than last year for Pease,” said Rosenthal. “She has distributed the ball and then kind of gotten out of the way. The things that Alex Kelly has been able to do is in large part connected with what Jake has done. There is chemistry between them. It is neat to see them both on the A-Sun First Team.
“Their recruiting class was honorable mention nationally. Our program has progressed with a lot of young players. We lost five seniors last year and have followed that up with a strong performance. To have a setter and a middle who are as effective and dominating as they are helps us to have bright future.”
Kelly was the only player this season to earn A-Sun Player of the Week honors three times.
“We have asked her and pushed her to do more things and she has really stepped up to that challenge,” said Rosenthal. “Alex is the ultimate competitor in and out of practice.
“She worked really hard this past spring to develop her game. She had a great season last year, but she wasn’t satisfied with that.”
Also earning postseason honors was freshman Katie Rose who has played both middle blocker and outside hitter this season. Rose earned a spot on the A-Sun All-Freshman Team.
“We had some ideas to play her at the middle position and then we had to transfer her to the outside,” said Rosenthal. ‘I had confidence she could make that transition.
“She has had some up and down sets. But she has done a nice job throughout the year. The thing about her is her willingness to learn and to grow on her experiences. She has a great attitude on and off of the court. The team has really gravitated towards her.”
The honors are nice, but the Lady Bisons have a major challenge facing them this week. They head into the A-Sun Championship this weekend at Mercer University in Macon, Ga., as the No. 1 seed. The Lady Bisons, the defending tournament champions, have earned a bye in the quarterfinals. They will play Friday in the semifinals against the winner of a match-up between Mercer and ETSU.
“The great thing about all three of them is that they realize there is still something bigger out there this season,” said Rosenthal. “The tournament and a chance to return to the NCAA Tournament is what they have been working so hard for all season.”