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Thursday, September 10, 2009Defense will be the key this weekend as the Lipscomb Lady Bisons face North Florida and Jacksonville in the first home matches of the season.
“I think it is kind of fun to be back home,” said Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal. “These players have been working hard not many people have seen them.
“There was a chance for fans to see us play against Belmont which was a great atmosphere. I think it gave us a good imitation of what is going to come for the season from a fans standpoint.”
The Lady Bisons, who swept Belmont 3-0 Tuesday night in the Atlantic Sun opener for both teams, continue conference play with North Florida (4-3, 0-0) visiting Allen Arena at 6:30 Friday night and Jacksonville (3-3, 0-0) coming to campus at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The Lady Bisons are 4-3 overall, 1-0 in the A-Sun.
“The word is out that we are an exciting team,” said Rosenthal. “I think that is going to be a lot of fun the next couple of days as well as for the rest of the season.”
Rosenthal is not surprised at the way that North Florida has started the season. He is expecting a major confrontation between Lipscomb middle hitter Alex Kelly and North Florida middle hitter Kaley Read. She leads the conference in kills with 4.38 per set. Kelly is in second with 4.30 per set.
“I think it is going to be a tough match,” said Rosenthal. “Read has a lot of similarities to Alex. They are both very athletic and very quick. I will be interesting to see them going at it head-to-head.
“North Florida has brought in some new players that have made quite a bit of difference already. We have to really focus on this match.”
Jacksonville is a familiar foe for the Lady Bisons as well. While the Dolphins are missing Sara Bendforf who graduated they are still a tough challenge.
Last week Shelley Walroth, Jacksonville’s libero, broke the career digs record of former Lipscomb libero Ann Mullins.
“They continue to find talented players and they are able to plug them in,” said Rosenthal. “They are a very good blocking team. That poses a different challenge. And their libero is arguably the best libero in the conference.
“It is going to be all hands on deck for us. We are really going to have to get after it on defense to equal their efforts. Against Belmont defense led to our offense with a lot of transition points. That is our plan against these two teams to let our defense ignite our offense.”
Rosenthal has stressed to his team that putting successful back-to-back matches together will be a challenge.
“Our front end of the schedule is pretty heavily dominated by teams in the top end of the conference,” said Rosenthal. “After this weekend and next week we should have a good indication of where we stand.
“I like where we are. I like what our players are doing confidence-wise.”
Rosenthal also likes his starting players with Stefine “Jake” Pease at setter, Meghan Hinemeyer and Kaycee Green on the outside, Alex Kelly and Amy Trykowski in the middle, Erin Pierce at opposite and Katie Rose at libero. Substitutions have been few so far this season.
“A lot of times substituting breaks up the rhythm,” said Rosenthal. “You look across the board and it’s tough to find a place where another player can break into what we’ve got.
“A big part of it is momentum and what you do with that momentum. The rhythm on the court is huge.”