|October 18, 2013||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
Florida Gulf Coast
|October 19, 2013||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
SPITZNAGLE - 15
STOUT - 1
McCOMBS - 1
FORT MYERS, Fla. – It is the longest trip on the Atlantic Sun Conference schedule for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons and it is also one of the toughest stops they make during the volleyball season.
In volleyball’s version of planes and trains, minus automobiles, the Lady Bisons flew to Fort Myers Thursday morning via Atlanta. They will bus from Fort Myers to Deland, Fla., for a match Saturday and then fly out of Orlando later in the day.
“We have a lot of travel,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “This is not necessarily an easy trip. It is a quick turnover.
“We had a great week. We were able to rest a little bit. They are ready to go for this trip.”
Friday night at 6 the Lady Bisons will play Florida Gulf Coast at Alico Arena. The Lady Bisons, winners of their last three matches, are 12-6 overall, 6-2 in the A-Sun. The Eagles are 9-11, 5-2 in the conference.
The Lady Bisons have an 8-4 series record against FGCU, with a 4-2 mark at Alico Arena. However, the Lady Bisons have lost their last two meetings with FGCU.
The Purple and Gold leads the conference with eight 3-0 match wins, including three against A-Sun opponents. Three of the last four matches for FGCU have extended to five sets. They held on to win all three.
They head into the weekend with middle blocker Molly Spitznagle back on the court, but not yet 100 percent healthy. Spitznagle was sidelined Sept. 21 and has seen limited action in the last two matches.
“In some regards we are just getting back from the injury with Molly,” Rosenthal said. “I think we are in a good spot, but we are a good two weeks away from where we were before she got hurt.
“Her injury has posed some challenges, but at the same time we are moving forward. I like that.”
In her last outing, a 3-1 win over Kennesaw State, Spitznagle made 10 kills along with a career-high .769 hitting percentage.
“Molly is playing a little bit more,” Rosenthal said. “She is practicing a little bit more.
“The tough part right now is you still have to preserve her and not let her go all out. That is all part of the process. It is not anything we are unfamiliar with. But we would like to take the brakes off of her and let her go.”
Rosenthal is proud of the way his players have persevered through position changes and starting lineup adjustments in the aftermath of Spitznagle’s injury.
“It has been fun, frustrating and challenging all in the same breath,” Rosenthal said. “But, it is a good thing.
“Our team has bought in. Our team understands what is at stake. We have the ability to control our destiny a little bit more than some of the other teams. We have to seize that opportunity.”
Rosenthal expects his team will face a challenging atmosphere from FGCU fans. They have “Midnight Madness” activities scheduled for the basketball teams shortly after the end of the volleyball match. Fans that attend the basketball practices can reserve a seat by buying a ticket to the volleyball match.
“From what I hear they are expecting over 1,000 people to watch basketball,” Rosenthal said. “It should be a fun atmosphere.”
The Lady Bisons are ranked first in the nation in assists per set with 14.39 and kills per set with 15.52. The Lady Bisons are 22ndnationally with a .267 hitting percentage.
Individually, setter Caitlin “Dot” Dotson leads the nation in assists per set with 12.67. Middle blocker Jewell Dobson is sixth in NCAA Division I in two categories with 4.75 kills per set and 5.37 points per set.
While not in the national rankings, middle blocker Claire Peterson and right side Brittnay Estes have filled in where needed in Spitznagle’s absence.
“Claire and Brittnay have done a fantastic job filling in a little bit of the void,” Rosenthal said. “As we move forward both of them are going to be called on to do a little bit more.
“It has been great to see Brittnay for an extended amount of time. When we moved Claire to the middle we saw what we were missing from her on the right side. Claire is the epitome of a great teammate. She steps in wherever she is needed.”
FGCU is led by outside hitter Jessica Barnes with 3.38 kills per set. Setter Gig Meyer averages 10.30 assists per set. Whitney Masters leads the team with 278 digs. Karina Mambuca has 62 blocks.
“Gulf Coast is a consistent team,” Rosenthal said. “It is a well-coached team. It is one of those teams that everybody shoots for.
“They possess some height. They pose some problems blocking-wise. They distribute the ball well. They have plenty of firepower and not in just one or two positions. If you get in a match where you are chasing them it is going to be tough.”
The Lady Bisons head to Deland, Fla., Saturday to face Stetson at 1 p.m. Both games can be viewed free on A-Sun TV.