|October 16, 2015||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
EVERSGERD - 6
HAAKE - 1
ANDERSON - 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb volleyball team thrives on emotions and the players faced a match filled with uncertainty.
The USC Upstate volleyball team was playing its first match since the school lost four student-athletes in an automobile accident Saturday night. Both teams wore specially designed T-shirts during warm-ups using Upstate’s green and Lipscomb’s purple in the design with "SpartanStrong" on the back.
It was obvious from the start of the Atlantic Sun match Friday night at Allen Arena that players on both teams were dealing with their emotions. Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal admits he didn’t know what to expect from either team.
“We really didn’t talk about it too much,” Rosenthal said. “The players knew about the plans and obviously they knew about the T-shirts.
“I don’t know if it was emotion as much as it was uncertainty. We didn’t know from a match standpoint if it was going to spur Upstate on. I was a little nervous about it. In a truly kind of selfish way I knew from a match standpoint it could be a problem.”
The Bisons swept Upstate 3-0 to remain unbeaten in A-Sun matches. They won set one 25-20, set two 27-25 and set three 25-14.
“I thought we did a nice job in set one, but I wanted a little bit more,” Rosenthal said. “Upstate is a really scrappy team and they showed that in set two. I liked what our girls did at the end of the second set.
"You never know if a situation like this was going to spur Upstate on. Between sets two and three I told our players they had to change. The match is right now. We can’t change the circumstances that we are dealing with. The uncertainty of it all probably affected us a little more than I anticipated.”
Middle blocker Jewell Dobson was the only player in double figures in kills with 13. She also posted a match-high .375 hitting percentage.
“Brandon warned us that Upstate was going to run with whatever we gave them and that is what they did in the second set," Dobson said. “There were a lot of long rallies. Upstate had a great defense.
"They are a dangerous team. I just saw it as I have to put the ball away.”
Libero Brittany Thomas made a match-high 21 digs. Outside hitter Lauren Anderson added 13. Right side Brittnay Estes finished with 12.
“We all know that defense definitely fuels the play and keeps the play going,” Thomas said. “We are just trying to be as scrappy as we can. The better we do in digs it really helps our hitters and our setter get things going.”
After the match the Lipscomb players presented the Upstate players with a large graphic signed by all of the athletes, coaches and administrators in the athletic department. Dr. Randy Lowry, Lipscomb’s president, spoke and gave a prayer as both teams held hands in a circle.
“I think it was really special that we could all come together at the end of the match like that,” Dobson said. “We are competitors but in the grand scheme of things we are all in this together.
“We had to look at this game from the business side of things. We had to find it within ourselves to work together and win.”
The Bisons are 13-7, 6-0 in the A-Sun. Upstate falls to 12-10, 0-6 in the conference.
“It was not the prettiest of wins by any means,” Rosenthal said. “Upstate always plays hard.
“We have some things we have to clean up, but I am not overly concerned. We will take it for what it is and go back to work Saturday.”
- Thomas broke the 300-dig barrier and has 313 so far this season. Her 21 digs marked the fifth time this season she had made more than 20.
- Defensive specialist Jenny Phelan broke the 100-dig barrier. She has 105 for the season.
- USC Upstate has never beaten Lipscomb in a volleyball match since the series began in 2007.
- Five of Lipscomb’s conference matches have been 3-0 victories.
Kennesaw State swept NJIT in Newark, New Jersey Friday night. They visit Allen Arena Sunday at 2 p.m. The Owls are 11-6, 3-3 in the A-Sun.