|October 11, 2013||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
CARLTON - 7
ROCHEFORT - 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It is hard to say that a volleyball player averaging just under 18 kills over her last five matches is playing in the shadows.
But that might well be the way to describe Lipscomb outside hitter Lauren Ford. Middle blocker Jewell Dobson is averaging 18.5 kills per match over the same stretch including a career-high 27 in a 3-2 loss to ETSU.
Ford, who has provided a one-two scoring punch with Dobson for three seasons, has thrived as teams have centered their defenses on Dobson.
“Lauren thought she was going to be the main attacker, but Jewell has taken over that role,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “Initially, Lauren had to take a step back. Then she realized, `wow, this is a pretty good thing for me’. Jewell is getting a ton of the attention.
“They are together in the formation a lot. When Jewell attacks as well as she has been the other team has to pay attention. As more and more teams are committing to Jewell they are leaving Lauren open.”
Rosenthal often talks about the multiple offensive weapons the Lady Bisons have to offer. This weekend against Mercer and Kennesaw State at Allen Arena he will be counting on Ford and Dobson to continue to set the kills pace.
Rosenthal knew Dobson would attract more attention from opponents with each passing match. Teams may occasionally slow her down in a set, but they have yet to stop her. She has finished in double figures in all 16 matches, with 20 or more kills three times.
She has recorded the match high in kills 12 times, including one tie. She opened the week ranked fifth nationally in kills per set with 4.96 and sixth in points per set with 5.4. She is 33rd in the nation with a .397 hitting percentage.
Ford has been in double figures in kills in 12 matches. She has posted the match high five times, tying once for the lead. She is ranked third in the conference and 46th in the nation with 3.9 kills per set.
“Northern Kentucky wasn’t Jewell’s best match, but she still had 16 kills and hit .333,” Rosenthal said. “She had 27 kills against ETSU when their main defense was to stop her. Jewell knows what she is doing. She is doing a fantastic job.
“Lauren has realized she doesn’t have to press as hard. She had 21 kills against ETSU and everyone was talking about Jewell. It is pretty nice when you can quietly be getting 18 or 20 kills. I think she has fallen into that and is really appreciating that.”
The Mercer match starts at 6:30 Friday night. The Bears are 1-15, 0-6 in the conference. The Lady Bisons are 10-6, 3-2 in the A-Sun.
Rosenthal may have a third major weapon in his arsenal this weekend. Middle blocker Molly Spitznagle has been sidelined since Sept. 21 with an ankle injury. She could possibly see some time on the court this weekend, but Rosenthal is being cautious.
“That is our hope,” Rosenthal said. “The team had a day off Wednesday and we were able to work with Molly individually.
“We would like to think she is going to be ready to go. Either way, I would not anticipate her starting against Mercer. We will see how practice goes.”
Claire Peterson and Brittnay Estes have seen increased playing time with Spitznagle sidelined. Peterson has moved from the right side to the middle. Estes has filled in as the right side.
“We have been able to move some pieces around,” Rosenthal said. “I think that has been good, but I don’t know if we have necessarily been putting the best team out there.”
Rosenthal is expecting another tough weekend. The Lady Bisons are coming off a 3-1 win over Northern Kentucky Tuesday night. Neither Mercer nor Kennesaw State has played since Saturday.
“We are in a good spot,” Rosenthal said. “The tough part about this is we are going to be playing matches four and five over seven days. That is the challenge at hand.
“I think we are physically ready. We have a good knowledge of both of these teams. Both teams have local players. Both teams are hungry. Both teams are dangerous.”
The match with Mercer can be seen on ESPN 3.