The Lipscomb Lady Bisons (20-3, 15-0) head into Jacksonville, Fla., with a 17-match win streak and a 15-0 Atlantic Sun Conference record to protect. Jacksonville (16-5, 12-2) has won its last 13 matches and is only two matches behind the Lady Bisons.
The Lady Bisons, rated 57th in the RPI rankings for the second week in a row, hold a 6-1 edge in the series which started in 2005.
The match is billed as the A-Sun “Match of the Week”. The match begins at 6.
“I guess anytime you have two teams that are on streaks like we both are it is definitely going to be interesting,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “I think if either one of us had slipped up it would still be a good match-up. Anytime we play Jacksonville it is a good matchup.”
Rosenthal stressed that at no time this season has he talked about the streak with his players.
“This team wants to win every match,” said Rosenthal. “This team expects to win every match. The streak is to be expected. “I feel that way as well. It is one thing that I feel that way. It is another thing that the girls do. We believe in our abilities. We believe in each other.”
Rosenthal and his players have been talking about control and how important that is to being successful on the court.
The Lady Bisons posted a quote at practice that says, “Control is never achieved when sought after directly. It is a surprising outcome of letting go.”
“I have to let go and just trust that our girls are ready,” said Rosenthal. “In the past couple of weeks we have been working as hard as we can to prepare for matches, but when it comes down to it I have to let go.
“It has been a lot of fun because I have asked our players to do that as well. Letting go doesn’t mean you don’t work hard or work together. It means you have to know that you are ready to go.”
Jacksonville has only lost two matches, one to the Lady Bisons 3-0 Sept. 12 at Allen Arena. In fact, that is the last match loss for the Dolphins this season.
Like the Lady Bisons, the Dolphins have not lost on their home court this season. They are 6-0 at Swisher Gym.
“Jacksonville is playing great volleyball,” said Rosenthal. “They have had as equally as good a season as we have.
“It is going to be a battle. When they came here they had a tough weekend and didn’t play very well. I am expecting the opposite Friday night. I’ve been watching them on tape and they are ready to go. I know we are.”
Jacksonville has several solid players. They are led by junior setter Hanna Munneke and senior outside hitter Brooke Singleton.
“Jacksonville runs a lot of its offense to the right side of the court,” Rosenthal said.
Shelley Walroth, the libero, anchors the defense. She needs 64 digs to move into the top 10 in career digs in NCAA Division I. She leads the A-Sun with an average of 5.53 digs per set.
“She has done tremendous things there,” said Rosenthal. “I think she is 15th all-time in digs in the NCAA. She has pretty good numbers.
“Jacksonville is hungry. We are the hunted in some regards. Jacksonville wants to go out there and play its game. Jacksonville has found ways to win even when using players that don’t usually start.”
Rosenthal also has a lot of respect for Jacksonville coach Shaun Kupferberg.
“There is a lot of respect for each team,” said Rosenthal. “I probably see Shaun more than any other A-Sun coach on the road. We both work extremely hard recruiting-wise. We have had many meals out on the road.
“There is a good rivalry there. And then you add in all of the other things like the winning streaks and trying to win the regular season championship and it is even more interesting.”
The Lady Bisons are led by junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease and junior middle hitter Alex Kelly. Junior Meghan Hinemeyer has been a big contributor as an outside hitter.
The Lady Bisons will face Jacksonville Friday at 6. They will face North Florida Saturday, Oct. 31, at 2.