|November 20, 2015||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
NIETO-GOMEZ - 4.0
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Lipscomb volleyball team will be seeking its fifth Atlantic Sun Championship Saturday with Kennesaw State standing in the way.
The championship match will start at 3 p.m. at Allen Arena. The winner gets the A-Sun’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. It is the third straight time Lipscomb has played in the championship game.
The No.1-seeded Bisons advanced with a 3-1 win over No. 4 Jacksonville in the semifinals Friday night.
Kennesaw State, the No. 3 seed, beat No. 2 seeded Florida Gulf Coast 3-1 Friday night. The Owls are 19-8 overall. This is the first time Kennesaw State has played in the tournament championship match.
“This is what it is all about,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “It gets tight at times and you have to be able to push that aside and push forward.
“It’s a challenge. We have a mixture of players. For some of them this was their first time in the A-Sun Tournament. For others it is old hat. It is about the constant reminder of we have to go for it.”
Lipscomb and Kennesaw State split during the regular season. The Owls won 3-2 at Allen Arena. The Bisons won 3-2 on Kennesaw’s home court.
“I expect great energy from Kennesaw State,” Rosenthal said. “For us it is about controlling our side.
“We have to deal with their runs. Kennesaw does a good job of putting multiple points together. We have to get to the point where we get comfortable and start to be the aggressor.”
In the Jacksonville match Lipscomb lost set one 25-23 but came back to win set two 25-22, set three 25-15 and set four 25-21.
“I thought we did a really nice job in the first set,” Rosenthal said. “We just let up at the end. We played undisciplined. It was uncharacteristic of us.
“When you get to this point in the season the last thing you want to do is take a step back. But we responded great in set two and we responded even better coming out of the break and going into three.”
Right side Brittnay Estes, the A-Sun Player of the Year, made a match-high 17 kills. She also added 10 digs for a double-double.
Middle blocker Jewell Dobson chipped in 15 kills and posted a match-high .462 hitting percentage.
Also in double figures in kills was outside hitter Carly Nusbaum who finished with 15 and also completed the double-double with 15 digs.
“You look down the sheet and you almost have five players in double figures in kills which is huge for us,” Rosenthal said. “That is what makes us dangerous.
“At the end of one it was just a matter of playing our game and we didn’t do that. We made mistakes that in some regards didn’t cost us, but they didn’t help us. We told them they had to work harder to make their opportunities and then make the most of them.”
Libero Brittany Thomas led the Bisons with 20 digs. Outside hitter Lauren Anderson was credited with 11. Setter Kayla Ostrom made 10.
Ostrom also had a double-double with a match-high 57 assists.
“The stat sheet doesn’t tell the whole story,” Rosenthal said. “I thought our coaches did a great job of making adjustments in between sets two and three.
“Everybody was dialed in. Sets three and four were about us going out there and playing hard and Jacksonville playing hard. There were long rallies, big blocks and huge points both ways. That is what a tournament match is all about.”
This and that
- Nusbaum and Anderson both had solid matches in their first A-Sun Tournament exposure. Rosenthal was not surprised that the way they performed.
“We expected this from day one with each of them,” Rosenthal said. “This is what we were planning on using them for.
“Nusbaum’s numbers jump out at you. But I thought Lauren was fantastic. Her passing was fantastic. Her defense was really on point.”
- Lipscomb swept Jacksonville this season with 3-2 and 3-0 wins during the regular season.
- Jacksonville had beaten Lipscomb in the championship match the past two seasons.
- Rosenthal was pleased with the crowd that attended Friday’s match. He is hopeful to have a large and loud crowd Saturday even though Lipscomb students are now out of school for the Thanksgiving break.
“The crowd was fantastic,” Rosenthal said. “I think they were treated to a great volleyball match in our match.
“They saw a level of the sport that probably a majority of the people here had never seen before. That is fun when you not only bring in good teams, but you see a high level of the sport.”