Whenever Lipscomb and Belmont meet the contest is always fiercely fought and the second volleyball version of the “Battle of the Boulevard” Tuesday night at Allen Arena was no exception. The Lady Bisons won the match 3-1, taking the first set 25-20, losing set two 25-20 and then coming back to win set three 25-16 and set four 25-19.
The game was played in front of a record crowd of 1,379 fans, a new record for a volleyball match at Allen Arena. It was billed as “White Out” Night. Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal directed his team wearing a white tuxedo complete with a white tie and white shoes, courtesy of Street Tuxedo.
“It was fun match,” said Rosenthal. “I can’t talk about the match without talking about the atmosphere.
“This is what it all about with everybody dressed in white. They really bought into it. This is what these girls practice so hard for each day. I want to give a big thanks to the crowd and to the athletic department. This was a big time college volleyball atmosphere.”
It marked the first time that the Lady Bisons have swept the Bruins of Belmont in volleyball in the regular season.
The match started the second round of the Atlantic Sun round robin. The Lady Bisons were 10-0 in the first round and are the first team to start out with an 11-0 record in A-Sun play. They went into the match tied with former conference member UCF which had also started conference play with 10 wins in 1994 and 2003.
The win was the 50th in the A-Sun for Rosenthal, who is in his seventh year as head coach of the Lady Bisons.
The Lady Bisons started out with the lead in each set, but they were challenged in many ways by Belmont’s defensive strategy.
“I thought Belmont did a nice job of game planning against us,” said Rosenthal. “Every time we play we know it is going to be a battle. In the first set we came out and tried to do too much, but then we settled in and moved forward.
“It probably wasn’t as crisp of a match as we wanted. We had to regroup between sets two and three. We were able to get out to leads in sets three and four and even in one. We were able to get out to a lead in set two, but we couldn’t hold onto it. And we will definitely work on that.”
Middle hitter Alex Kelly made a match-high 17 kills and added 13 digs. Amy Trykowski, also a middle hitter, earned praise from Rosenthal for her seven kills, one error, 14 attempts and .429 hitting percentage.
“Amy played a tremendous match,” said Rosenthal. “Her numbers really stand out in this match. We really needed her because they were doing a lot of doubling on our outsides. I kept telling Jake (Stefine Pease) to trust in Amy and she did a fantastic job.
“There were a lot of little plays by Amy that don’t show up on the stats. She made plays at the net; she kept balls alive and did a pretty good job blocking. I loved it. I’m really proud of what she did and the intensity she played with.”
Rosenthal gave credit to his two players in the middle for setting the tone of the game for the Lady Bisons.
“They did a nice job of slowing Alex down, but she really kept the pressure on Belmont,” said Rosenthal. “A real good amount of the credit should go to our middles, Alex and Amy, and what they did.”
Libero Katie Rose posted a match-high 18 digs, her new season high. Her previous season-high of 17 was set at Belmont Sept. 8.
“Katie played a good match,” said Rosenthal. “There were a couple of plays that she could have let get to her, but she didn’t. She hung in there and played well.”
Outside hitter Kaycee Green made 10 kills and Pease made 10 digs.
The Lady Bisons are 16-3, 11-0 in the conference. Belmont is 11-10, 7-4 in the A-Sun.
“I definitely wouldn’t say this was our top match, but credit that to what Belmont was doing to us,” said Rosenthal. “Belmont just fought and that is what a rivalry is all about.
“Belmont is the real deal. They will be there at the end. Belmont will be one of the teams to beat in the tournament.”