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November 21, 20141st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
Northern Kentucky2519212592
NKUTeam StatsLIP
.168Hitting Pct..215
179Total Attacks205
KillsKellerman - 15
Ford - 15
AssistsOstrom - 59
AcesEstes - 2
McCombs - 2
DigsMcCombs - 33
BlocksBradley - 6
November 22, 20141st2nd3rd4thFinal
JUTeam StatsLIP
.212Hitting Pct..157
156Total Attacks166
KillsEstes - 14
AssistsOstrom - 44
AcesOstrom - 1
Kellerman - 1
DigsMcCombs - 22
BlocksSpitznagle - 5
Volleyball earns repeat title match with Jacksonville
Friday, November 21, 2014
By Mark McGee
Volleyball earns repeat title match with Jacksonville

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Lipscomb libero Bri McCombs had something to prove.

Picked to repeat as Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year and a member of the All-Conference Team again, McCombs received no postseason honors.

On the conference stage at the A-Sun volleyball tournament she decided to show everyone just how good she really is.

McCombs, a junior, made a career high 33 digs Friday night as the Lady Bisons came-from-behind to beat No. 4-seeded Northern Kentucky 3-2 in the semifinal round of the tournament.

“Bri came into this weekend with something she wanted to prove - that she is one of the best players in the conference,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. "I told her we could sit and talk about and debate it all you want or you can go out there and make people recognize.

“You have to stop wondering what if and how come and go out there and prove it. I thought her energy was the difference. In the third set she was all over the place (eight digs).”

The Lady Bisons, 21-7, will be in the championship match Saturday at 2 p.m. at Alico Arena on the campus of Florida Gulf Coast. They will face Jacksonville for the title and the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Four Lady Bisons finished in double figures in kills and four were credited with double figures in digs including McCombs.

The Lady Bisons lost set one 25-19 and then rallied to win set two 25-19 and set three 25-21. Northern Kentucky evened the match at 2-2 with a 25-23 victory in set four. The Lady Bisons controlled set five from the start for the 15-9 set win.

“It is what this time of the year is all about,” Rosenthal said. “It was a championship-type of a match. I feel good that we found a way to get it done. It was good to finish the way we did. We’ll take it.”

“Northern Kentucky played a great match. We really didn’t take advantage of how hard we had worked to take the lead and get back into it in the fourth (22-21 after trailing 17-10). Coming out of the time out we had some very specific things that I wanted us to do. If you watched the match you could see I was pretty exasperated. It was lesson learned. We have to do a better job of focusing coming out if timeouts.”

Rosenthal was a little surprised at how his team started the match, never having the lead in the first set.

“It was the classic example of the other team coming out and punching us in the mouth,” Rosenthal said. “We really didn’t have an answer. I was a little disappointed by that. I thought with how we lost up there we would have taken it a little more personal.”

Outside hitters Lauren Ford and Sophie Kellerman each had 15 kills to lead the Lady Bisons. Right side Brittnay Estes added 14 and middle blocker Katie Bradley finished with 12. Bradley tied for the match-high in blocks with six.

“You can look around the entire place and see what our players did,” Rosenthal said. “But I think you have to talk about Katie Bradley.

“She is getting better and better and she has done that all year long. We really needed her. She had 12 kills and hit almost .300. She works hard and probably overanalyzes things, but she is getting more comfortable and taking the information she is given and going with it.”

Setter Kayla Ostrom made a match-high 59 assists. She led the team with a .455 hitting percentage.

Estes collected a double-double with 11 digs. Ostrom also had a double-double with 15 digs. Defensive specialist Brittany Thomas chipped in with 13.

The Lady Bisons, the No. 1 seed, are 21-7. Northern Kentucky finishes the season with a 19-11 record.

Quick hits:

  • The Lady Bisons are 7-3 in conference tournament semi-finals.
  • The Lady Bisons were 2-1 against Northern Kentucky this season with a 3-1 win and a 3-2 loss.
  • They will play in the championship match for the seventh time, having reached the final round seven of the last eight seasons.
  • This is the second time this season that McCombs has posted more than 30 digs. She finished with 31 at Jacksonville Nov. 8. She has 20 or more digs in a match nine times this season.
  • McCombs was credited with a kill against Northern Kentucky, her second of the season. She had one at North Florida Nov. 7.
  • Ostrom also made 59 assists against North Kentucky Sept. 26. She has 50 or more assists in a match five times this season. She tied her season and career high in digs.
  • Estes collected her 12th double-double in kills and digs for the season. She also has one triple-double to open the season against Creighton.

Who’s next:

Jacksonville, the No. 3 seed, knocked off No. 2-seeded Florida Gulf Coast on its home court in the nightcap Friday night.

The Dolphins are 17-13 overall.

Lipscomb and Jacksonville played last season in the A-Sun Championship. The Dolphins prevailed 3-2.

Jacksonville is first overall in opponent hitting percentage (.178) and in conference matches only (.152).

A-Sun Player of the Year Sammie Strausbaugh leads the conference matches only in kills (4.69, 258) and overall in the conference (4.73, 501). She is the only player in the history of the conference to reach 500 kills in the regular season. She is 10th in the NCAA in kills.

Freshman Olga Nushtayeva leads the conference with 109 blocks.

Rachel Miller is fifth in conference matches in digs (4.45, 245).

Last season the Lady Bisons lost to Jacksonville in the A-Sun championship match. They are 1-1 against Jacksonville overall in tournament matches.

The Lady Bisons beat Jacksonville 3-2 Nov. 8 (23-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-17, 15-11) and 3-1 Oct. 10 (25-19, 17-25, 25-19, 25-19).