What's behind numbers matters most for LUV
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
What's behind numbers matters most for LUV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – If he had his choice Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal would rather his Lady Bisons be 3-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference than ranked No. 1 in the country in kills per set.

The Lady Bisons are 2-1 in the conference.  But for the third week in a row the Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team is rated first in NCAA Division I in kills per set.

The Lady Bisons are averaging 15.45 kills per set. They are also ranked third in the nation in assists per set with 14.14. Missouri is first with 14.48 assists per set.

“To the untrained eye it becomes a little bit more about the end result,” Rosenthal said. “We choose to look at it from the beginning – the pass, the defense.

“It is a great indication that we are doing some things right, especially on a national scale. If we were 3-0 in the conference I would feel a little bit better about pumping this up.”

Rosenthal discussed the rankings with his players the first week the Lady Bisons were rated No. 1. He and the team have not spoken of it since.

“I know that sounds silly, but we have not talked about it,” Rosenthal said. “I am not a numbers guy. If we get caught up in the numbers it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story.

“When we lost to Jacksonville (Friday), we out-hit them by 80 points in the third set. That is a pretty big differential and we still didn’t come up with the victory. If I was a numbers guy, if I lived and died by the numbers, that loss would have driven me crazy.”

Rosenthal is more impressed with the kills per set ranking than the assists per set.

“To be No. 1 in the nation in kills per set you have to have a lot of things going right,” Rosenthal said. “You have to be passing. You have to play defense. There are so many variables. There are so many things that come before the ball hitting the floor for a kill.

“Kills per set is very much a team thing. As much as we push the team approach it is fun to see. Our setter has to be distributing the ball. Our defenders have to pass.”

Individually, setter Caitlin “Dot” Dotson is second in the nationa in assists per set with 12.50. Missouri’s Molly Kreklow is the leader with 12.64 assists per set.

“It is great for Dot and great for the team as she goes through her final season,” Rosenthal said. “She has worked hard for it.”

Middle blocker Jewell Dobson is ranked in the top 10 nationally in two categories. She is eighth with 4.79 kills per set, and ninth in points per set with 5.30.

The Lady Bisons are first in the Atlantic Sun Conference in kills per set and assists per set.

Dotson is first in the conference in assists per set. Dobson is first in hitting percentage (.370), kills per set and points per set.

“More than anything it shows that all of the work Dot and Jewell put in during the offseason and in the summer is paying off,” Rosenthal said. “I give the credit to our girls. They work hard every day. It is fun to see them get some national recognition like this.”

Lost in the numbers to some extent is that the Lady Bisons have played their last three matches without middle blocker Molly Spitznagle who is recovering from an ankle injury. It has been necessary for Rosenthal to make some offensive changes as a result.

“It is more than one or two players,” Rosenthal said. “When we get Molly back I think our numbers will go even higher. I hope we will continue to push and try to make that number as big as possible.”

The Lady Bisons return home to Allen Arena Friday night at 6:30 to face USC Upstate. Saturday at 2 p.m. ETSU visits.

Rosenthal does admit that he likes the company his team and his players are keeping in the national rankings, but the ultimate goal is the A-Sun Championship and a return to the NCAA Tournament.

“It gives us a little more credibility on a national scale,” Rosenthal said. “When you consider the competition we have played it is awesome.”