Belmont volleyball rivalry remains heated for Bisons
Monday, October 19, 2015
By Mark McGee
Belmont volleyball rivalry remains heated for Bisons

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Belmont is more than a rival for Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal. The Bruins program has been a measuring stick for how much Lipscomb has improved through the years.

“My memory doesn’t go away after taking quite a few beatings from them,” Rosenthal said. “In some ways this rivalry represents the life of this program. I respect them but I know how badly I want to beat them. That will never change.

“We have gotten better through the years. We started at the bottom and we have continued to go up. When I came in here as head coach this rivalry was the biggest match of the year. It is hard for me to lose a sense of what it is. There is no ill will. It is just that competitiveness.”

Rosenthal wants to beat Belmont as often as possible. He gets another chance Tuesday when Belmont visits Allen Arena at 6:30 p.m. for the second round of the “Battle of the Boulevard” this season. The match will be shown live on ESPN3.

Rosenthal is known for his intensity as a coach, but when Belmont is the next team on the schedule there is a jump in both the tension and the intensity he feels.

“I never approach a match when I am not intense,” Rosenthal said. “That is one of the hard parts about me is my intensity. It is great in some places and I think it can get in the way in other places.

“I want to hold on to this fire that drove me and drove our teams to get to the point where we are now. No doubt Belmont has been a measuring stick for us.”

The last meeting was Sept. 22, a 3-2 win for Lipscomb on the Bruins home court.

“Tony Howell (Belmont coach) did a good job of preparing for us,” Rosenthal said. “I think we are in a different spot now and that match was kind of the beginning of this for us.

“We have a different lineup now than we did then. We have some different things we have worked on. It should be a lot of fun.”

The Bisons are 13-8 after a home 3-2 loss in the Atlantic Sun to Kennesaw State Sunday afternoon.

Scouting Belmont: The Bruins enter the match with a 9-10 overall record. They are coming off a 3-0 win at Austin Peay Saturday in Ohio Valley Conference action.

Belmont has won four of its last five matches.

The Bruins are led by Arianna Person with 267 kills, 3.76 per set. Person also leads the team in digs with 224, 3.15 per set. Emily Richards has 205 digs, 3.20 per set.

Series history: Belmont started out with a 9-0 record in the series, but the Bisons have reversed the trend and the teams are tied at 12-12.

National rankings: Lipscomb setter Kayla Ostrom is in the top five in the nation in assists per set with 11.79. She is eighth nationally in total assists with 943.

Right side Brittnay Estes is ninth nationally in triple-doubles with one.

As a team the Bisons are 12th in the nation in assists per set with 13.46. They are 18th in team assists with 1,077.

Lipscomb is 22nd in team kills with 1,130. The Bisons are 28th in kills per set with 14.12.

A-Sun rankings: Overall in the conference middle blocker Jewell Dobson is second with a .335 hitting percentage. Middle blocker Molly Spitznagle is third at .334.

Ostrom leads the conference in total assists and in assists per set.

Dobson is fourth overall in kills with 256 and fourth in kills per set with 3.28.

Outside hitter Carly Nusbaum is ninth in kills per set overall with 3.07.

Estes is 10th with 2.90 kills per set. She is sixth in total kills with 232.

Outside hitter Lauren Anderson is ninth overall in service aces per set with .28.

Libero Brittany Thomas is sixth in digs per set overall with 4.10. She is fifth in total digs with 328.

In conference matches only Dobson leads with a .468 hitting percentage. Spitznagle is fourth at .308 followed by Estes in fifth at .300. Lauren Anderson is 10th at .250.

Ostrom is second in A-Sun matches only with 300 assists. She is first with 12 assists per set.

Estes is second in kills per set at 3.68. She is tied for second in total kills.

Dobson is fourth at 3.52. She is fourth in total kills with 88.

Ostrom is ninth in service aces per set with .24.

Thomas is fifth in digs per set with 4.16. She is tied for fifth with 104 total digs.

In team stats Lipscomb is first in the conference overall in hitting percentage at .236. They are also first overall in assists and kills per set.

Lipscomb is first in four categories in conference matches only – hitting percentage (.305), assists per set (14.76), opponent hitting percentage (.127) and kills per set (15.68).

RPI ranking: The Bisons are 82nd in the NCAA RPI this week. Florida Gulf Coast is 87th. They are the only two teams from the Atlantic Sun in the top 100 this week.

Lipscomb and FGCU are tied for the conference lead at 6-1.