|November 15, 2014||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
MARCINEK - 11
TAYLOR - 4
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Technically, the Lipscomb Lady Bisons already had the Atlantic Sun Conference volleyball title Friday night, but there was still a possibility they might have to share it.
With their 3-1 win over Kennesaw State Saturday afternoon inside Allen Arena the Lady Bisons won the title outright, their fourth in the past 12 years under coach Brandon Rosenthal. It is their first regular season title since 2011.
“There are thousands of hours that you pour into it whether it is this year or the past couple of years to try to get back to this spot,” Rosenthal said. “A lot of it has to do with recruiting and a lot of it has to do with preparation.
“Very few people understand what it takes to win a championship. Championships are very hard to come by. We have to celebrate our championships because of the sacrifice and the time that goes into winning one.”
Kennesaw State was out of contention for the A-Sun Tournament, but Rosenthal knew that the Owls would give a total effort regardless of the situation.
“A couple of times during the season I thought about erasing the schedule that I had on the board in my office, but I decided just to write around it,” Rosenthal said. “The board sits in front of me so every time I am on the phone I see it.
“It reminds me of the stories and the thought processes going in before we play matches. When we saw Kennesaw on the schedule at the end of the season we knew it was going to be a tough match.”
After losing set one 30-28 the Lady Bisons won set two 25-21, set three 25-20 and set four 25-21.
“We were trying to do a little too much in the first set,” Rosenthal said. “Looking back on it I understand why. We had been talking about this day for a long time and you want to make the big kill or the big stuff.
“We had an error here because we hit the antenna or an error there because we were a little overzealous and we hit the net. It is hard to stay focused and stay within yourself by taking what is given to you.”
The Lady Bisons fell behind 5-2 in set two forcing Rosenthal to call an early timeout. It was visible to anyone in the arena that he was not pleased.
“In seven total points I told them I felt like on each point one of them had taken a series off,” Rosenthal said. “I told them we had played seven points with only five players.
“It wasn’t just one player. It was all of them. I wanted to see them work harder before it got away from us because I knew Kennesaw was going to work hard and bring it to us.”
Coming out of the break Rosenthal urged his players to move forward and finish it, which is what they did in sets three and four.
“I thought set three was the most important,” Rosenthal said. “And we did an even better job of controlling set four.”
Four Lady Bisons finished in double figures in kills led by outside hitter Lauren Ford with a match-high 18. Right side Brittnay Estes added 16 followed by middle blocker Molly Spitznagle and outside hitter Sophie Kellerman with 13 apiece.
Setter Kayla Ostrom set a match, season and career high with 61 assists.
Libero Bri McCombs made a match-high 28 digs. She was one of five Lady Bisons in double figures in digs. Estes added 13 and defensive specialist Brittany Thomas finished with 12. Kellerman was credited with 11 followed by Ostrom with 10.
Estes and Kellerman each finished with double-doubles.
The Lady Bisons finished the regular season 20-7, 13-1 in the conference. Kennesaw State closed out the season with a 10-18 record, 4-10 in the A-Sun.
“I felt like we had a team that was capable of winning the championship and that was before the season started,” Rosenthal said. “The thing I learned the most was what they were made of.
“It has nothing to do with talent. It is the grit and the grind that they possess. It is amazing.”
- This is the eighth consecutive season the Lady Bisons have won at least 20 matches with the tournament still ahead.
“That is hard to do,” Rosenthal said. “Twenty wins is kind of the mark within the volleyball world.
“When I put the schedule up on the board I was wondering how we were going to get 20. It was like, `man, oh, man’. I thought it might be close because of the competition we played.”
- Ostrom’s 61 assists is the third highest total in a four-set match ever for the Lady Bisons. Her .571 hitting percentage was also a career high.
- Estes has 11 double-doubles and one triple double this season. She has double-doubles in her last three matches. Earlier this season she had four straight matches with double-doubles.
- Kellerman has eight double-doubles this season including three of her last four matches.
- Ford has 1,562 career kills moving her into fourth place all-time in the Atlantic Sun Conference.
- She has been in double figures in kills in her last 13 matches. She has 423 kills, her best total for a season. Last year she finished with 422.
- McCombs has eight matches with 20 or more digs.
The Lady Bisons are the No. 1-seed and will not play a match in the A-Sun Tournament until Friday night. They will practice Sunday night and Monday and take Tuesday off as a travel day for Fort Myers, Florida.