Sophia “Sophie” Kellerman, Jewell Dobson, Jordan Huston, Megan Stout and Lauren Ford are expected to make a quick impact on the Lady Bisons, winners of the both the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships for the past two seasons.
With the losses of setter Stefine “Jake” Pease, the A-Sun Player of the Year; middle blocker Alex Kelly, A-Sun Tournament MVP; outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer, an all-conference selection; and Elly Kaiser and Tory Ashcraft the Lady Bisons have some big spots to fill.
“I can see why people would think this is my most important recruiting class,” Rosenthal said. “This recruiting class will show people why we have built a program and not a team.
“It is obviously important. We want to continue to be successful. It is one of those classes that came together probably earlier than any other classes. I’m very excited about it.”
Rosenthal is confident this group will make a strong impression. A strong work ethic is the trait most common among the quartet.
“The overall theme of this class is the work ethic.” Rosenthal said. “More than ever we probably need that from this class. No. 1 we need players like these who are not afraid to play at a high level of competition and No. 2 they want to come in and want to work.
“It is not about you. It is about us. How do I fit in? How do I make us better? It is not by coincidence that we found players like this. They have character and drive. They don’t like to lose…period. “
Huston, 5-foot-10 setter, is from Joliet Catholic High School in Joliet, Ill. She served as captain of her team in 2010. Her senior season she was credited with 354 assists, 39 digs, 58 kills and 39 blocks. As a junior she had 52 digs, 205 assists, 57 kills, 57 kills and 36 blocks.
“Jordan played for a really good high school team,” Rosenthal said. “She is really versatile like a Katie Rose or a Claire Peterson except she sets.
“Primary she will be a setter, but secondary possibilities are for her to be a right side or middle. When you bring someone that versatile into our offense the sky is the limit. She is that good and that well-rounded.”
Dobson, a 6-foot middle blocker, is one of two players from Mercy Academy in Louisville, Ky., in the recruiting class. Mercy Academy won the state championship in its division in 2008 and 2009.
“Jewell hits the slide extremely well,” Rosenthal said. “I know she hits the slide better than Alex did as a freshman.”
Dobson is a two-time all-state selection as a junior and a senior. She was also all-region as a junior and a senior. She served as team captain her senior season.
She as a “Prep Volleyball” 2010 Senior “Aces” honorable mention selection. She was also a 2009 All-State Academic Team member.
“A lot of people were looking at her,” Rosenthal said. “There were a lot of schools from our conference who were recruiting her. It is fun to come out on the winning side against the other schools.
“She is a wonderful student and a wonderful person. She is going to fit into our program but also into this university.”
Rosenthal expects Dobson to move in and help fill the gap left by the departure of Kelly.
“Jewell is really long,” Rosenthal said. “She fits that athletic middle we are always looking for.
“It is going to fun to speed her game up. A lot times middles are the second or third option. In our offense a lot of times the middle is the first option. That is going to be mindset change.”
Kellerman played at Sacred Heart Academy in Louisville which is also the alma mater of Lipscomb setter/defensive specialist Catilin “Dot” Dodson.
Kellerman , 5-9, was on the AVCA 2010-2011 Under Armour High School All-American Watch List. She was all-state honorable mention in 2010 and All-District. She was also an honorable mention selection for the KHSAA Academic All-State team.
“Sophie is an under-sized outside hitter,” Rosenthal said. “She is probably one of the most athletic players we will have. She jumps really well. She has a lot of power on her shots. She is really good on defense. She could see some time early on as a defensive specialist.”
Rosenthal and assistant coach Samantha Sullivan liked what they saw in Kellerman’s approach to the game. Unlike most coaches they had no problems with her height.
“Sophie is a gamer,” Rosenthal said. “Every time I saw her she was beating teams. I couldn’t find any reasons not to take her. She can play.
“Height isn’t a concern for me. I realized she was somebody that fits the mold of the type of player we want. She is a winner. She likes to get things done. She doesn’t mind working hard. She is going to go out and do what she can to win.”
Ford, a 5-foot-11 outside hitter, is from St. Thomas Aquinas in Overland Park, Kan., the same school where Lipscomb outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer played. She is also a top club player with KC Power.
“Lauren has played on an extremely high club level with KC Power,” Rosenthal said. “They won a national championship at the highest level with the 16-year-old team. As a 17-yearold they were fifth at nationals on the highest level.
“She wants to win. We have lost some of that with Alex, Jake. We get that mentality right back that I don’t like losing and I am not used to losing.”
She was member of the Class 5-A All-State team in Kansas for 2010. She also was a member of the Missouri/Kansas All-Star Team. She was second team all-state in 2009. In 2009 and 2010 she was a member of the All-State Tournament Team as St. Thomas Aquinas was the runner-up both times.
“She is going to outwork everybody else because that is the only way she knows how to do it,” Rosenthal said. “I really see her as one of that player who comes in and competes for a starting position from the first day.
"She is an all-around, good solid player. She jumps well. She passes well.”
Rosenthal compares her to Bisons’ basketball player Adnan Hodzic who is known for his work ethic.
“She is going to be like Adnan,” Rosenthal said. “She is going to be working on her game when no one is here in the arena.”
Stout is a 5-7 libero/defensive specialist from Mercy Academy in Louisville, Ky. She plays for MAVA (Mid-America Volleyball Association) one of top club programs in the country.
“Megan is one of the happiest people I have ever seen,” Rosenthal said. “She has a great personality. She is a fun person to be around.
“She is a tremendous worker. Every time she steps out on the court she is working to get better. She has really good fundamentals, but what make her special are her work ethic and her drive. She is not one of those get in our face individuals, but she wants to win.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.