NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Spring practice wasn’t perfect for the Lipscomb volleyball team, but coach Brandon Rosenthal isn’t one to complain.
The Lady Bisons closed out spring workouts with a strong showing in a tournament in Louisville against Ohio State, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech.
“Overall, we were kind of challenged this spring because we were limited on numbers with some injuries,” Rosenthal said. “Our girls had a great year, but a mentally draining year and that made it tough this spring.
“I think it was harder than any other spring because we couldn’t practice. We had to get real creative with things.”
The spring was also the first time the Lipscomb players had worked with new assistant coach Jeff Wismer.
“You never know how that is going to turn out,” Rosenthal said. “The girls responded to him really well.
“We are still working through things we want to do as a coaching staff and how we want to go about things. That’s exactly why I brought Jeff in. I want him to ask questions.”
Rosenthal was extremely interested this spring in the development of outside hitter Kaycee Green, the lone senior on the 2012 team, along with middle blocker Jewell Dobson and outside hitter Sophie Kellerman, who will both be sophomores.
Green will lead
Green, named first team Atlantic Sun All-Conference last season, could be competing for conference player of the year honors this season. Rosenthal spent much of the spring trying to bring out Green’s leadership skills.
“One of the things we really put forth in front of Kaycee was the idea she has been behind some pretty strong personalities the last three years. We wanted her to realize those personalities are gone and that we are going to rely on her a little bit more in the leadership aspect of it.
“I think Kaycee has done a great job of it. Do I think Kaycee is where she needs to be with the leadership part? No, I don’t. But I also knew it wasn’t going to be an overnight thing. What I was most please with was that Kaycee understood and took it upon herself to work on it. She has done a nice job.”
Green can take her game to a higher level, but Rosenthal thinks every player on the team is capable of doing that.
“Kaycee has to understand that she needs everybody,” Rosenthal said. “We are not just asking her to take her game to another level; we are asking everybody to do it.
“She has some pretty talented people around her. She is not the only one that has to carry the load. We are able to step back and watch her maturation process.”
A more polished Jewell
Dobson and outside hitter Lauren Ford were both named to the A-Sun All-Freshmen team. Rosenthal spent a great deal of time working to take Dobson’s abilities to a new level.
“Jewell is good, but doesn’t realize how good she can be,” Rosenthal said. “I thought Jewell really worked hard.
“She is seeing the game better. She understands that with the success she has had there is going to be more attention. People are going to have a better idea ahead of time of what she can do. They are going to be prepared for her. She is going to have to make adjustments.”
Sophie chooses hard work
Kellerman, whose freshman year was hampered by an injury, stepped up this spring in many ways.
“We all worked hard, but I was really impressed with the way Sophie worked,” Rosenthal said. “She had to get over the injury and start over. We never really had the opportunity to work on technique.
“We were almost more than halfway through the season when she was ready to play. There were a couple of times where she completely changed a match. I thought she did a fantastic job this spring.”
Rosenthal also thinks Kellerman, who played primarily as a right side during the season, impressed her teammates with her efforts this fall.
“I truly believe the girls really enjoy playing with her and that makes a huge difference,” Rosenthal said. “Sophie gets after it. She is willing to put it all on the line.”
Spring is for adapting
“I think we came out ahead of the curve,” Rosenthal said. “All in all I thought the girls did a nice job. I feel great about it.”
Rosenthal admits that in the past he might have been overly concerned with the number of injured players, but that that each player worked as hard as possible despite their limitations.
“The injured players have termed themselves `the Shag squad’.” Rosenthal said. “So we challenged them too.
“We used it as a time to work. I would have loved to have had the injured players out there. But if they couldn’t be out there they have to be the best whether they are shagging balls or practicing. It is great to have gone through this in the spring rather than in the fall.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.