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Monday, November 21, 2011
Two weeks before Abby Fay was born her mother guided Park Hill South High School to the Missouri State Championship.
So it is accurate to say that volleyball has always been in her blood from even before the day she was born in Kansas City, Mo.
After playing three seasons at Kansas State, Fay decided to sit out her senior season. But after being away from the game for almost a year she decided she wanted to play one more season. She had played club volleyball with former Lady Bisons players Stefine “Jake” Pease, Alex Kelly and Meghan Hinemeyer so the attraction to Lipscomb was a natural one.
“The experience at Kansas State was not bad,” Fay said. “But it wasn’t the experience that I wanted. It wasn’t for me.
“I had been around volleyball all my life. It was something that I had a lot of passion for and I wanted it back. I wanted to end my career on a good note. I came here for that opportunity. I am so thankful.”
Saturday afternoon at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena, Fay was instrumental in helping the Lady Bisons sweep Belmont 3-0 for the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship, their third in a row. The Lady Bisons advanced to the championship game with a 3-0 win over Florida Gulf Coast in the semifinals.
“Abby played as good as she has played all year in those two matches,” Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal said.
Rosenthal admits he had trouble understanding why Fay would want to come to Lipscomb and play after her former club teammates had left.
“Almost a year ago we were sitting down with Abby and trying to make this thing work,” Rosenthal said. “I was trying to get my head around the idea of why she wanted to come here.
“After spending some time with her it was a no brainer for me. I said then if Abby didn’t contribute one point on the court for us she would be a tremendous leader. And she is.”
Fay wanted to not only go out a winner she also wanted to be a contributor to her team’s success. She has accomplished both of those goals while working on a Master’s degree in Education.
Fay, who splits the setter position with Caitlin “Dot” Dotson, was named to the Atlantic Sun All-Tournament team. Rosenthal doesn’t think you can mention the success of one of them without mentioning the success of the other.
“Both of them have given up something huge,” Rosenthal said. “Most setters would like to run a 5-1 but we run a 4-2. It’s a bit unconventional, but we found something that works for us.”
Fay is quick to give credit to her teammates for her success this season.
“This is by far the best season I have ever had and the best team I have ever played with,” Fay said. “I can honestly say I love every one of the girls. It has been a really, really special thing.
“We worked hard and we deserved the championship. I’m glad it paid off. I wanted to win and luckily we were able to do that.”
Fay’s transition to the Lady Bisons program was not an overnight success. It took some adjustment. Pease, who is serving this season as an assistant coach, knew the Abby Fay she had played club volleyball with for so long would eventually resurface.
“I don’t think she was 100 percent confident when she first came here,” Pease said. “It wasn’t the Abby I remembered. It took her some time to get comfortable with the girls coming in here as a fifth-year senior.
“She is a great fundamental setter, but her biggest attribute is she knows how to lead. The past few weeks have been awesome with her. You can tell in her eyes that she wants it. She is back to the old Abby I knew.”
Rosenthal had watched Fay quite a bit on club teams. He also thought that the Fay that arrived on campus last year was different than the player he had seen before.
“Abby was one of the fiercest players I have ever seen in club volleyball,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t want to say that she lost some of that love. But I think sitting on the bench and being in a bigger pond took some of that away.”
Fay agrees that it took some time for her to regain her confidence. She had been a setter most of her career, but she played as a libero and defensive specialist at Kansas State her last two seasons.
“I lost a lot of confidence,” Fay said. “I wasn’t good at libero or as a defensive specialist. I wasn’t comfortable on defense.
“It was a slower transition than I would have liked and it was probably slower than Brandon expected. It took awhile to get my consistency back. There would be a good set and then I would make a bad set. But it all came back.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.