April 14, 2008
The Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team, the 2007 Atlantic Sun Tournament Champion, will carry some extra baggage into the 2008 season,
"We are losing five seniors," said Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal. "I think a lot of teams will be interested in seeing what happens to our team chemistry.
"We would be foolish to say that we don't have targets on our back. We do have something to prove. What we have to prove is that we are going to be here for quite some time."
Atlantic Sun Conference play will be more intense this season with a new round-robin schedule. The Lady Bisons open the A-Sun portion of the schedule Sept.9 when Belmont visits Allen Arena.
The last time the two teams met was in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament in Macon, Ga. The Lady Bisons won, 3-2, over top-seeded Belmont, their first match win ever against the Lady Bruins.
"This is the first season to have a double round-robin and the first match is against Belmont," said Rosenthal. "It will be on a Tuesday night. We hope we will have a huge crowd for it.
"It should be an interesting match. We are both going to have young players involved. They are going to be gunning for us and wanting to send a message."
Other A-Sun home games are ETSU (Sept. 12), USC-Upstate (Sept. 13), Stetson (Oct. 3), Florida Gulf Coast (Oct. 4), Jacksonville (Oct. 24), North Florida (Oct. 25), Kennesaw State (Nov. 14) and Mercer (Nov. 15).
The first A-Sun road game of the season will be Sept. 19 at Campbell. The remaining A-Sun road games are North Florida (Sept. 26), Jacksonville (Sept. 27), Mercer (Oct. 10), Kennesaw State (Oct. 11), Stetson (Oct. 18), Florida Gulf Coast (Oct. 19), USC-Upstate (Nov.7) and ETSU (Nov. 8).
"We will create more rivalries playing every team home and away in the conference," said Rosenthal. `The challenge is trying to get a balance with out-of-conference games."
The Lady Bisons will play UT-Martin at home Oct.7 in a non-conference game. On the road the Lady Bisons will visit Austin Peay (Sept. 2), Evansville (Sept. 16) and Tennessee State (Oct. 14).
"We will come right back from our first tournament and play Austin Peay," Rosenthal said. "We lost to Evansville in five games here last year. They are right in the thick of the Missouri Valley Conference which is a great match-up for us.
"Against TSU it depends on what floor we are on. Both of us went to the NCAA Tournament last season. We both want to prove it wasn't a fluke. It depends on which floor we play on. We haven't had too much success playing on their floor and they haven't had much success playing on our floor."
The Lady Bisons will appear in two tournaments. They open the season in Morehead, Ky., Aug. 29-30 at the Morehead State Tournament. They will play in Middle Tennessee's tournament Sept. 5-6.
"With the conference going to the round-robin schedule we had to cut down on our travel," said Rosenthal. "We are only allotted two weekends for tournament play which is a bit of a challenge.
"How we pick tournaments and where we travel to tournaments might change in the next couple of years. I don't think the competition will change, but how far we travel might change due to time constraints."
Morehead State is traditionally one of the top teams in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Middle Tennessee Tournament is going to feature a number of teams in the top 25 last season. Both Middle Tennessee and Iowa State, Sweet 16 NCAA Tournament teams last season, are set.