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#23 Creighton (1-0)
8/28/2014 | Lawrence, Kan. | Attendance: 300
#22 Kansas (1-1)
8/29/2014 | Lawrence, Kan. | Attendance: 1281
Utah Valley (0-3)
8/30/2014 | Lawrence, Kan. | Attendance: 180
Thursday, August 28, 2014
LAWRENCE, KAN. – The Lipscomb Lady Bisons open the 2014 volleyball season Friday against not one, but two, AVCA Preseason Top 25 Teams.
Are they worried? No. Are they afraid? No. Do they think they belong? Yes, definitely.
At 9:30 a.m. the Lady Bisons will play No. 23-ranked Creighton in the first match of the Kansas Invitational at the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on the campus of Kansas. At 7:30 they will face No. 22 rated Kansas. They close out the tournament Saturday at 11:30 a.m. against Utah Valley.
The Lady Bisons are 2-0 against Creighton, winning in both 2009 and 2010 by 3-1 scores. They are 0-2 against Kansas, losing in 2009 and 2010 also by 3-1 scores. The Lady Bisons have never faced Utah Valley.
“I know we can win,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “We are not doing it to gain notoriety. We are doing it because I know that is the group we are in.
“We have to continue to push the envelope. I have always believed if we are going to be the best we have to beat the best. I am excited. The girls are excited to take on that challenge. They haven’t backed down. They won’t back down.”
Rosenthal wonders what the coaches and players from Creighton and Kansas are saying about the Lady Bisons in preparation for Friday. Instead of a challenge, Rosenthal prefers to think of the matches as two prime opportunities.
“I think in a lot of ways they are just as nervous as we are,” Rosenthal said. “They both know we are not an easy out. We have something to prove. The only way to beat one of these teams is to play these teams.
“We have beaten Creighton twice. We lost in four sets to Kansas twice in close matches. By no means is either one of these teams looking at us on the schedule and saying we are easy. In this tournament any one team can go 3-0 or 0-3.”
The Lady Bisons have embraced the theme of “the crazy ones”. They don’t care what outsiders think about them and their goals. They are simply ready to do their best.
“We like the idea of outsiders looking at us and saying we are crazy,” Rosenthal said. “There was once a time when people said we were crazy because we thought we could win a conference championship and we have won four.
“Since January we have attached our goals on the `crazy ones’. We are very comfortable with that. We are the ones crazy enough to believe in our dreams. Hopefully, come November people will say we are not the crazy ones, but we are the ones that fulfilled our mission.”
Senior outside hitter Lauren Ford and freshmen Chloe Rogers and Brittany Thomas are all returning to their home state.
“We are the No. 1 visiting team in terms of ticket sales Kansas has brought in,” Rosenthal said. “Lawrence is a special place for us. Lauren has been waiting for this for years.
“We have talked to the freshmen about understanding what the weekend is going to look like. They are both going to be close to home so there are going to be a lot of outside distractions. All of them are excited.”
Rosenthal thinks his team is prepared but he expects to make adjustments throughout the matches. He has one of his deepest teams ever.
“It is nice to know the depth is there,” Rosenthal said. “We have a great core, but we do have options for a couple of points here or in the rotation. It is nice to know we can give somebody a breather and not lose ground.”
Creighton returns a veteran team similar to the Lady Bisons with six starters plus a libero and 12 letter winners. Creighton led the nation with 3.06 blocks per set last season. The Lady Bisons were one of the best offensive teams in the country in 2013 ranking third nationally in kills with 15.03 per set and 17th nationally with a .260 hitting percentage.
“Creighton has a tall team,” Rosenthal said. “They have very good blockers in the middle and on the right side. They have an explosive outside hitter in Leah McNary.
“The key for us is to be relentless on offense. We have so many options in spreading the ball around. It should be interesting to see which team is more ready.”
Audio of the match with Kansas will be available on www.kuathletics.com/kansasvbinvite, the link for tournament central. The match will also be shown on ESPN 3.