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Monday, November 02, 2009Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal started at the top of the NCAA RPI list and worked his way down the page. When he got to 67th on the list he realized something was wrong.
When he perused the teams he missed his Lady Bisons sitting in 41st on the list, the highest ranking ever for the team. Last week they were 57th.
“I was more interested than shocked to see what our movement was going to be this week,” said Rosenthal. “I am not shocked that we moved up because there were some people in front of us that lost. Beating Jacksonville helped because they have a good RPI.”
Rosenthal calls the RPI a great measure, but he points out that the teams in the top 25 poll don’t always coincide with the top 25 teams in the RPI. The goal for the Lady Bisons was to be in the top 50 in the RPI this season.
“Any time you can not only reach a goal is awesome,” said Rosenthal. “It’s fun when you build something like this. It is something that we have all poured our hearts into. It is humbling.”
The RPI is a constant in deciding at-large teams that qualify for the NCAA Volleyball Tournament.
“We are in new territory,” said Rosenthal. “There are a lot of questions that I have.
“The RPI is a moving scale. While we are here this week, we might not be there next week. At the end of the day it is a mathematical formula that the coaches don’t have any control over.”
The Lady Bisons have won a program record 22 matches this season. They also have clinched their first Atlantic Sun regular season championship. They are 22-3, 17-0 in the conference.
“While this is nice and all we haven’t done what we want to do,” said Rosenthal. “Like the regular season championship it is a good benchmark and a huge step. We are excited about it. But we have to get to the NCAA Tournament.”
Rosenthal was proud of the way his team played in wins at Jacksonville and North Florida.
“To come in and get another piece of good news is fun,” said Rosenthal. “From my standpoint I try to go at it every day working as hard as I can. Every day I wake up and that is my goal. To have something happen like this is pretty cool.”
NCAA rankings : The Lady Bisons continue to climb the NCAA national rankings in statistical categories.
They are second in kills per set with 14.93. Texas A & M holds a slight lead at 14.96.
“That’s the girls,” said Rosenthal. “For us to be in that category with the likes of these other teams should say something.
“We have talented players, don’t get me wrong, but it is their work ethic and the small things that don’t show up on stats that allow us to be second in the nation. We have to be efficient. We have to be able to pass.”
The Lady Bisons are fifth in assists per set with 13.9. Texas A & M also leads that category with 14.16.
They are ninth in won-lost percentage (.88).
They are in the top 25 in two other categories, ranking 17th in hitting percentage (.269) and 22nds in digs per set with 16.99. Individually, junior middle hitter Alex Kelly is eighth in points per set (5.25) and 14th in kills per set (4.47).
Junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease is eighth in assists per set with 11.89.
Senior opposite Erin Pierce is rated 37th in service aces per set with .42.
Austin Peay visits: The Lady Bisons will be on the court at Allen Arena Tuesday night at 6:30 to face Austin Peay State from the Ohio Valley Conference. The match is part of the HoopapaLUza festivities.
Austin Peay, 19-6, is second in the OVC with a 12-2 record. They are under first-year coach Mike Johnson and could still win the conference title. They swept Morehead State and Eastern Kentucky this past weekend.
“Austin Peay is having a great season,” said Rosenthal. “I have talked with Mike quite a bit. Ann Mullins’ sister plays there.
“They are a quality team. They are going to play us tough. It gives us another opportunity to show how hard our players work.”
The Lady Bisons have won the last five matches against Austin Peay and are 5-4 in the series overall.