Three juniors _ middle hitter Alex Kelly, setter Stefine “Jake” Pease and outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer all are from the area. Kelly is from Kansas City, Mo. Pease is from Berryton, Kan. Hinemeyer‘s hometown is Overland Park, Kan.
“We are obviously going to have a good crowd there with the three girls from the area,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “I’m excited. I think this really fits into what we are trying to do.
“These three players know what it is at stake. I think they are extremely anxious to play in front of their families and friends. It will be neat to play in a big time tournament and have some fans there to support us.”
The Lady Bisons, 2-1, will open against the host Jayhawks, 2-1, at noon Friday in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center. The Lady Bisons opened the season in Knoxville at the Lady Vol Classic. Kansas started the season at the Middle Tennessee State Invitational in Murfreesboro.
“We will go after the host and see if we can spoil it for them,” said Rosenthal. “In this format it comes down to trying to take care of our side of the net.”
The Lady Bisons will play Creighton at 5 p.m. Friday. Saturday at 10 a.m. the Lady Bisons close out the tournament with Florida International.
“Across the board this is a tougher tournament than the one at Tennessee,” said Rosenthal. “All three teams we will be playing are in the 50-to-75 range in terms of rankings.
“The reason why we are there is to win and not just be a part of it. I think our players realize that after the Lady Vol Classic. I feel really good going into this weekend. I would just like to see us execute a little bit better in some of the tougher matches.”
Kelly opened the season strong both offensively and defensively in the Lady Vol Classic. She finished with a match-high 16 kills and added 10 digs against Tennessee. She notched a match-high 15 kills, tying for a team-high 13 digs against Western Kentucky. Against Tennessee Tech, Kelly made 11 kills and added a match 12 digs.
“Alex stepped up and said she might not get as many sets, but she had to take care of the ball and keep her hitting percentage up,” said Rosenthal. “People are going to focus on here. I give her credit. She works harder and harder every day as team’s game plan against her.”
She offers a unique combination of offensive skills combined with the ability to also dominate on defense.
“It is very unusual for a middle to play all six rotations,” said Rosenthal. “For a middle to really be a defensive force in blocks and digs is very rare. Alex is obviously one of our top offensive players, but on defense if she is not at the top she is near it.
“She is that fast and that quick. She is so athletic that she can make plays that other people can’t make because she is relying on her pure athleticism. If you watch a match real closely you can see the way she starts and stops. She only needs a step or two. Most players need more momentum. She is a like a running back. “
Pease also put in a strong performance as the setter. Both Pease and Kelly earned all-tournament honors.
Hinemeyer made her debut for the Lady Bisons after transferring to Lipscomb from Clemson to start the spring semester. She is making the transition from a defensive-oriented approach to the game to an emphasis on offense.
“When she played well Meghan she did a real nice job and flustered the other team,” said Rosenthal. “When you have to worry about the outside and the middle it makes it really tough for the other team.
“After playing a couple of years in the back row only she is all of a sudden back on the front. She knows what she has to do. She has to build her confidence.”
Another area of concern was the libero position. Katie Rose played there for most of the Lady Vol Classic and Rosenthal was pleased overall. Also getting playing time were Elly Kaiser and Kory Honel.
“Katie did a nice job,” said Rosenthal. “She did a great job passing. We are working with all three of them to get the speed of the game up where it needs to be.”