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Seniors leaving legacy of volleyball success
Thursday, November 5, 2015
By Mark McGee
Seniors leaving legacy of volleyball success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Their names can be found in the record books for both the Lipscomb volleyball program and the Atlantic Sun. They have received national recognition at various times in their careers.

But what seniors Jewell Dobson, Brittnay Estes and Molly Spitznagle, all tri-captains, have meant to the Bisons go far beyond the numbers.

“Each class is a little bit different,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “All three of them have played significant roles throughout their careers.

“It is more than the sheer number of kills, blocks and digs. The thing I reflect upon more importantly is the legacy they are leaving us with. They are a major part of not just being successful but they are a major part of taking this program to the next level.”

All three will be honored on “Senior Night” Friday when Jacksonville (9-13, 6-4 in the A-Sun) visits Allen Arena for a 6:30 match. Sunday the Bisons will play their final home regular season match against North Florida (18-9, 4-6) at 2 p.m.

The Bisons have already clinched a berth in the A-Sun Tournament scheduled for Allen Arena Nov. 19-21. Lipscomb can secure a first round bye by winning both matches.

Dobson, a fifth-year senior middle blocker from Shepherdsville, Kentucky, has lost 10 regular season A-Sun matches and has won 63. Estes, a right side from Palm Harbor, Florida; and Spitznagle, a middle blocker from Lafayette, Indiana; have only suffered eight A-Sun regular season losses while winning 52 matches.

Dobson has been part of an A-Sun Tournament Championship team in 2011. She has played in two NCAA Tournaments. Dobson, Estes and Spitznagle all three experiences what it was like to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament last season.

“It is a great bag of accolades for each one of them,” Rosenthal said. “I look at all three and I have to use the word awesome because I think it is the right word when you look at all three and their contributions. When they arrived here we were around the top 100 in the country. Now we are in the top 50.

“When you take a look at the amount of wins they have been a part of it is fun. The biggest void they leave for us is consistency with the three of them. I don’t know if we ever had a night where all three were not consistently strong. We never have had to wonder what we were going to get out of them.”

All three of them have been all-conference performers with Dobson named A-Sun Player of the Year in 2013. Dobson was also picked as A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year for 2014 before having an injury end her season after four matches. Estes entered this season as A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year.

“Jewell goes out there every night and you never have to wonder what she is going to do,” Rosenthal said. “Jewell has grown and expanded her world since she has been here.

“From day one you knew Brittnay was going to go out there and give you her absolute best. Brittnay has matured into an unbelievable leader. She has been the heartbeat of this team and the heartbeat of the program.

“You think about Molly and this year has been a microcosm of her career. Molly is just so business-like. When the team needs her to step up she does. She led this team last year and was rewarded as A-Sun First Team All-Conference.”

They have different personalities and they have excelled in a variety of areas. Rosenthal has been impressed with the way the three of them have been accepted by their teammates, fans and fellow students.

“They have all grown, “ Rosenthal said. “Molly has always had a heart of gold. She has just blossomed into a person who makes you smile. Jewell is probably one of the nicest people in the world you will ever meet.

“Britt’s energy is contagious and the passion she lives with makes her so unique. People gravitate to all three of them. They want to be around them and I think that is pretty neat.”

Their successes speak well for the recruiting abilities of Rosenthal and his staff.

“There were a lot of hopes and dreams when we recruited them,” Rosenthal said. “There was a lot of pencil and paper work as to what we were going to look like over time. There was a lot of anticipation. To have a class with three significant players at the end of their careers is interesting, especially when you look back at the recruiting process.

“They have been so instrumental in our success. From a recruiting standpoint it is a feather in your cap to recognize the hard work you have put in. More than anything it reaffirms the characteristics of the type of people you want to be a part of your program.”

Rosenthal calls them true Lipscomb volleyball players in every sense of what he thinks his players should be on and off of the court.

“They are hard-working,” Rosenthal said. “They are great in the classroom. They care about people.

“They are good representatives of the program and of the school in general. The best thing you can say is they truly are special individuals.”

Both matches this weekend will be shown on ESPN3. Live stats will also be available.