|November 16, 2012||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
SHAIN - 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb volleyball looks to win its fourth consecutive Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship this weekend in Allen Arena.
Only one other team has won at least four consecutive titles in the A-Sun and that was Central Florida from 1992-1997 when they claimed six consecutive titles.
The tournament opens play on Thursday and finishes with the championship match on Saturday. The Lady Bisons received a bye into the semifinals and play on Friday at 5 p.m. in their first match of the tournament against the winner of No. 3 ETSU (20-12, 11-7 A-Sun) and No. 6 Mercer (11-17, 7-11 A-Sun), who play on Thursday at 5 p.m.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for a long time,” Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “The anticipation of not only getting into the tournament, but getting the seed that we were looking for.”
The Lady Bisons (18-11, 15-3 A-Sun) won the season series against ETSU. LU defeated the Bucs Oct. 6 in Johnson City, Tenn., 3-1 (17-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-16) after losing the first set.
LU swept ETSU 3-0 with 25-23 scores in all three sets in Allen Arena Oct. 26. The Lady Bisons hold an 11-4 record over the Bucs and has a 10-1 record in the last 11 meetings.
“ETSU is a tremendous team,” Rosenthal said. “They’ve got some very physical players, including Megan Devine, who’s the player of the year and Meredith Hardy, out of the middle, who’s first team all-conference. There’s no doubt they’ve got a lot of very potent pieces.”
The Bucs are led by A-Sun Player of the Year, Megan Devine (495 kills and 418 digs) and Jamie Rutledge (848 assists).
The Lady Bisons also won the season series against Mercer. LU defeated the Bears 3-1 (25-19, 25-17, 18-25, 25-23) in Macon, Ga., Sept. 29.
LU swept the Bears 3-0 (25-11, 25-17, 25-18) Nov. 3 in Allen Arena. LU holds a 14-5 record against Mercer and has won the last nine matches.
“You have to give Mercer a lot of credit,” Rosenthal said. “They were on the outside looking in when they played us here and had to come up with a couple of big wins and they did. Any team that fights their way into a tournament is always dangerous.”
Molly Locke with 343 kills, Monica Sanchez with 977 assists and All-A Sun Second Team Emily Rochefort with 554 digs lead the Bears.
The Lady Bisons have won four of the last five championships and have appeared in the last five title matches.
This is the eighth consecutive season that LU has made it to the A-Sun Tournament, the longest active streak in the conference.
The Lady Bisons have a 12-3 tournament record and are riding a six-match winning streak in the tournament.
The last time LU was the No. 2 seed was last season as it shared the regular season title with Belmont, but won the tournament to make it three straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Florida Gulf Coast (22-9, 16-2 A-Sun) won the regular season title and captured the No. 1 seed.
No. 4 North Florida (19-11, 10-7 A-Sun) and No. 5 Jacksonville (10-22, 7-11 A-Sun) play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. FGCU plays the winner Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The championship match will be Saturday at 3 p.m. for the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
Rosenthal is looking forward playing the tournament in front of the Lady Bisons fans.
“I’m hoping the fans will come out and support us like they’ve done all year long,” Rosenthal said. “That’s the other fun part knowing that you are going to play in front of your own students. We’ve had great student support throughout this year. It’s really going to benefit us to play in front of our home crowd.”
Tickets for the tournament will be $5 for each day or $10 for a tournament pass. Lipscomb students can get in free with a valid school ID and will be put in a drawing for a chance to win an iPad mini.
“It’s a lot of fun to play at home,” Rosenthal said. “The idea of being in your own locker room and sleeping in your own bed and kind of going through a somewhat normal routine is key at this point.”
Five Lady Bisons earned Atlantic Sun Conference Postseason Honors announced by the league on Tuesday and Wednesday, including four on the All-A Sun Second Team-Kaycee Green, Caitlin Dotson, Lauren Ford and Jewell Dobson.
Dotson and Ford were also named to the Academic All-Conference Team and Dotson was the A-Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year.
Molly Spitznagle was named on the All-A Sun Freshman Team.
After the A-Sun Tournament, the Lady Bisons will host Middle Tennessee State as its last regular season match of the season.