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October 26, 20131st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
JUTeam StatsLIP
.253Hitting Pct..250
146Total Attacks152
JACOB - 15
KillsDOBSON - 22
AssistsDOTSON - 57
AcesREX - 3
DigsREX - 18
BlocksDOBSON - 5
Inspired Lady Bisons rally for crucial victory
Saturday, October 26, 2013
By Mark McGee
Inspired Lady  Bisons rally for crucial victory

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Heather Dorniden didn’t play. It is safe to say she didn’t know there was a volleyball match between the Lipscomb Lady Bisons and the Jacksonville Dolphins. But she had an impact on the outcome.

Saturday morning Lipscomb athletics director Philip Hutcheson sent a video to the coaches and staff that showed how Dorniden, running the 600 meters in the 2008 Big 10 Championships for Minnesota, overcame a fall about midway. Dorniden not only managed to finish the race, she came back to win it by inches.

Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal showed the video to his players about two hours before Saturday afternoon’s Atlantic Sun match with Jacksonville at Allen Arena. After losing the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-16, the Lady Bisons rallied for three set wins and the match. They won set three 25-20, set four 25-29 and set five 15-12.

Rosenthal was amazed that the way the Lady Bisons played the crucial match was so similar to what the video illustrated that Dorniden had accomplished. After falling for two sets they picked themselves up and came back to win.

“I had not planned to show the video to psyche them for the match,” Rosenthal said. “It is the strangest thing in the world that we showed that video that was to a `T’ what we did.

“That girl never stopped believing. For two sets we probably did stop believing, but sets three, four and five were fun.”


Set three was the key

The Lady Bisons were looking for some payback after losing 3-1 at Jacksonville Sept. 27. But in the first two sets the Lady Bisons did not play like a team that wanted to win. Rosenthal minced no words in describing the level of play which was so out of character for his team. 

“We were playing awful,” Rosenthal said. “We weren’t playing with any passion or any energy. It was just blah. There was no emotion. At some point it is about pride and everything that surrounds us.

“The big message was sets one and two didn’t matter anymore. It was all about set three. Sets four and five didn’t matter yet. The only thing that mattered was set three. It was a 3-0 sweep. We have done it a thousand times. But they had to believe.”

It was only the third loss of the season for Jacksonville, 20-3 overall, 10-2 in the A-Sun. The loss also ended a 10-match winning streak for the Dolphins.

The Lady Bisons, 16-6, 10-2 in the conference, moved into a tie for second with Jacksonville. Both teams trail ETSU with only one conference loss.


Sophie provides a spark

When Rosenthal entered the dressing room between sets two and three he was greeted by silence from his players. He didn’t respond with a fire-and-brimstone speech, but he wanted to remind them of who they are as a team and as a program.

“You have to start believing,” Rosenthal said. “I wanted them to know that I believed in them, but they had to start believing in themselves. Whether we won or lost we had to start playing like we believe we can be No. 1 in the nation. That is the first time we have ever talked about that.”

Outside hitter Sophie Kellerman finished with 14 kills, a career high, and a .300 hitting percentage. She was the spark for the Lady Bisons in the third set with four kills, including two key ones late in the match.

“Sophie is kind of the unsung hero,” Rosenthal said. “When Sophie really started swinging at the ball in the third set I made a comment to Ann Armes (assistant coach) that this was the Sophie we had been waiting to see.

“She does so many little things passing and defensively. But at certain times you need some kills. Sophie is such an emotional leader. If you want to know who really drives the team, for the past couple of years, Sophie has.”

Middle blocker Jewell Dobson made a match high 22 kills, her fifth match with 20 or more kills this season. She posted a team high .400 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Molly Spitznagle and outside hitter Lauren Ford each chipped in 10 kills. 

Stephanie Rex, who moved to libero from defensive specialist to start set three, posted a match high 18 digs. Bri McCombs, splitting time between libero and defensive specialist, added 13. 


Bench, fans give emotional lift

The blocking game continues to get better for the Lady Bisons. It was fitting that the match point was the result of a block by right side Brittnay Estes and Dobson. Dobson and Spitznagle finished with five apiece. Estes made four.

“Britt brings passion and energy,” Rosenthal said. “Brittany came up with some pretty big plays at key opportunities.”

Kylie Jacob led Jacksonville with 15 kills and a .545 hitting percentage. Sammie Strausbaugh had a double-double with a team high 17 digs and 12 kills.

Rosenthal pointed to the enthusiasm during the match from the players on the bench, the fans in the stands and the men’s basketball team which cheered on the girls before a practice session.

“What was fun was seeing our bench after a big kill, a big block or a big play nearly out on the court,” Rosenthal said. “Jordan Huston is kind of the captain of the bench. It takes a lot of guts and a lot of heart for her to do that. I give props to her.

“The crowd was phenomenal. There were the basketball guys on one end and the High Rise 100 on the other. You could feel the energy.”

The Lady Bisons play their next four matches on the road. They visit Kennesaw State Nov. 1 and then travel to MercerNov. 2.