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November 13, 20151st2nd3rd4th5thFinal
.281Hitting Pct..271
146Total Attacks144
KillsPUDWILL - 27
AssistsRICK - 47
DigsBENKE - 19
BlocksTUTWILER - 4
Lipscomb clinches sole possession of volleyball title
Friday, November 13, 2015
By Mark McGee
Lipscomb clinches sole possession of volleyball title

FORT MYERS, Fla. – It wasn’t easy, but the Lipscomb volleyball team rallied for a 3-2 win at Florida Gulf Coast to clinch sole possession of the Atlantic Sun regular season championship.

The Bisons also won their 20th match of the season. It was the seventh straight win.

“You had the two top teams in the conference playing down the stretch with the regular season championship on the line, so that is what you expect,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “Matt Botsford does a great job coaching FGCU.

“It was more fun for us than them, but both teams laid it out on the line. It was definitely an ebb-and-flow type of game. The win was big. I am proud of the girls and proud of the staff.”

Friday night at Alico Arena the Bisons won set one 26-24. They lost set two 25-23 and set three 25-18. But they did not go gently into the South Florida night. In set four Lipscomb won 25-17 and then closed out the match 17-15 after trailing 14-12.

“I thought we stole set one from them,” Rosenthal said. “They put pressure on us in set one and we could never come up on the plus side, but we came on strong in the end.

“In set two we played pretty well minus our service errors. I felt like they stole that one from us. In set three we hit a road block and they took advantage of it. The great part about it was how we answered in set four.”

In set five FGCU started out with a 3-1 lead, but the Bisons stayed close and made their move in the end.

“It is a delicate balance,” Rosenthal said. “You obviously don’t want to start in the hole, but you don’t want to panic. It was point-for-point. We showed what kind of guts we have as a team.

“It is a longer set than people think it is. People say why don’t you just play another set to 25. You could but I think the drama would be even more intense. Both coaches would probably pass out at that point.”

Rosenthal praised defensive specialist Jenny Phelan who served the last two points in set five. Neither was an ace, but both helped seal the win for Lipscomb.

“Jenny did a fantastic job of coming in at the end and finishing the job,” Rosenthal said. “You can’t see it in the stat sheet, but her serves were phenomenal. You can’t say enough about how she continues to fight so props to her.”

Outside hitter Carly Nusbaum led the way for the Bisons with a team-high 21 kills. Also in double figures in kills were right side Brittnay Estes and middle blocker Molly Spitznagle with 14 apiece. Middle blocker Jewell Dobson chipped in with 10.

Spitznagle also led the team with a .500 hitting percentage making only one error in 26 attempts.

“Molly was tremendous in the match,” Rosenthal said. “Molly is a tremendous player who sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.”

Libero Brittany Thomas led the match with 20 digs. Nusbaum completed the double-double adding 10 digs.

Setter Kayla Ostrom was credited with 58 assists, a match high.

“I thought Kayla also did a fantastic job,” Rosenthal said. “She had confidence in her hitters.”

Both Estes and Dobson made five blocks.

“Jewell and Brittnay did a great job at the end to get the block on the last point (in set five),” Rosenthal said. “I kept challenging them to come up with the blocks we had to have. And they did that.”

The Bisons are 20-8, 12-1 in the A-Sun. Florida Gulf Coast slips to 20-10, 9-4 in the conference.

Quick hits

  • The Bisons have won 20 or more matches in eight of the last nine seasons.
  • This is the fifth A-Sun regular season championship for Lipscomb.
  • Lipscomb is 14-4 overall against FGCU.
  • Ostrom has 50 or more assists in 11 matches this season.
  • Thomas has been in double figures in digs in her last five matches. She has 20 or more digs in 10 matches this season.
  • She has been the match leader in digs in 17 matches this season.
  • Nusbaum has recorded a double-double four times this season.

Next up

Lipscomb closes out the regular season at 1 p.m. Saturday at Stetson, 10-16, 4-8 in the conference. The Hatters qualified for the sixth and last spot in the A-Sun Tournament which will be played Nov. 19-21 at Allen Arena.

The Bisons are the No. 1 seed and will get a first round bye.

“This is a big match for us,” Rosenthal said. “We have a great group of girls. For us it is another opportunity to go out there and show what we are about.”