The official record says that the Lipscomb Lady Bisons have beaten the Belmont Bruins twice in volleyball.
One of those wins was a forfeit. The other, however, was a gritty five-set match in the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament in Macon, Ga., last November. The Lady Bisons moved on to beat Jacksonville in the finals and earn their first ever NCAA Tournament berth.
The two open the Atlantic Sun season Tuesday night at 7 at Allen Arena. Tonight is “70s Night” and students and fans are urged to dress in their best fashions of the era.
“Playing your travel partner right off the bat is always tough,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “This is one of the match-ups that jump out at you.
“You have to take matches as they come. This is not going to determine our season by any means. There is a double round-robin in the conference this season and we will see them again.”
In the preseason poll of A-Sun coaches Lipscomb was picked second and Belmont was tabbed to finish third. But the tournament winner is the one that gets the automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament and Lipscomb and Belmont each received four votes to be the conference champion.
“Anytime Lipscomb and Belmont play, even if we both had checker teams, there is something about it,” Rosenthal said. “You can’t downplay it.
“One more win is obviously a good thing. In year’s past we might have been able to down play it a little more because we had not won against them. I’m sure they have had this game circled since last November.”
Right now, however, Rosenthal is looking for a way to get his team back on the winning track. They have opened the season 1-6. Belmont is 4-3.
“This is the first major sporting event indoors for the new year,” Rosenthal said. “I hope all of the students will come out.”
Sophomore middle blocker Alex Kelly has been the leader for the Lady Bisons. She has a .384 hitting percentage, second in the conference, and a conference-leading 106 kills. She has led the Lady Bisons in kills in every match this season.
“Alex has done a tremendous job,” Rosenthal said. “I talked to her earlier and let her know that not only were we counting on her, but that we had a lot of confidence in her.
“She is a competitor. She hates to lose. She has the fire we like to see. When she is going well our team is going well. It has been a tough situation because she has played so well and we have come up a little bit short. She is probably wondering what more can she give.”
One area that Rosenthal wants to bolster is the scoring from the outside hitter position. Senior Sarah Snider, one of the top offensive players in the conference last season, has been playing the libero position this season. The position she played against Belmont will be a match time decision.
Rosenthal is counting on several other players to step up as the Lady Bisons enter conference play such as sophomore setter Stefine “Jake” Pease, junior opposite Erin Pierce and outside hitter Katie Rose, a freshman.
“Erin has done great job in the first couple of weeks,” Rosenthal said. “She has been up and down hitting-wise, but she has worked really hard.
“We have put Jake in a tough situation because we have not had as much production as we would like from the outside. There has been a lot of pressure on her to make the right decisions. It becomes harder and harder when you are playing tougher competition.”
From a team standpoint the Lady Bisons lead the conference with 14.43 digs per set. Belmont leads the conference with a .176 opponent hitting percentage.Share on Facebook