|November 21, 2015||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
BOYER - 1
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When the number above Lipscomb’s name on the scoreboard turned to 25 for the third time, Brittnay Estes turned her eyes toward the roof of Allen Arena with the most blissful of looks.
With the thrust of her right hand into the air, she then summed up the Atlantic Sun Tournament and the championship match Saturday afternoon with the shout of one word – finally.
“It is super awesome,” Estes said as she was surrounded by the pandemonium of the celebration. “Finally is the only word that comes to mind.
“Finally we did it. Finally we kept our composure. We came in and just played our game.”
For Estes, a senior right side from Palm Harbor, Florida, this was the end of a four-year quest to win the tournament. For the previous two years she had watched with crushing disappointment as another team walked away with the title. Her impassioned speech to her team during the tournament’s last time out in the final match with Jacksonville last year probably still echoes in the Alico Arena at Florida Gulf Coast.
Estes not only gets a tournament championship, but she was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. She can place that award beside her 2015 A-Sun Player of the Year Award.
The Bisons, the top seed in the tournament as the regular season champion, swept Kennesaw State 3-0 at Allen Arena. It marked the fifth tournament championship for Lipscomb in the history of the program.
Lipscomb won set one 25-21, set two 25-16 and set three 25-14.
Coach Brandon Rosenthal allowed his players to do most of the talking before and during the Kennesaw State match. Estes, one of the team captains, stressed that the theme was not to stop in a match until the No. 25 appeared above Lipscomb’s name on the scoreboard.
“We wanted it so bad,” Estes said. “We just kept going. We kept our urgency. We kept fighting. It was about always moving forward. If they got a point, we had to shake it off and move on to the next point.
“One of the things we have talked about was doing more. You can always do a little bit more.”
Lipscomb receives the A-Sun’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. They earned a berth last season with an at-large bid.
Estes admits she was surprised the Bisons won with a sweep. Kennesaw State had given the Bisons their only A-Sun loss of the season, a 3-2 decision at Allen Arena. Lipscomb had fought back on the road beating Kennesaw State 3-2 on Halloween night.
“Kennesaw State is a very good team,” Estes said. “They have a lot of fight. They have a lot of young girls who know how to play the game of volleyball. They come out with fire and passion.”
Setter Kayla Ostrom and middle blocker Jewell Dobson were named to the all-tournament team for Lipscomb.
Dobson, also a team captain, thought more of her teammates should have been all-conference selections. A fifth-year senior as a medical redshirt, Dobson was the only player on the team to have previously experienced winning an A-Sun Tournament title. The Bisons last won in 2011, her freshman season.
“To win it again as a senior is great…it is a great story,” Dobson said. “I am proud of these girls and all we have done and worked for.
“What was going through my head the whole game was everybody is doing their part. Everybody was contributing. It was all of us working together. This whole year it has never been about one player. It has always been about everybody. That is what happened today and that is why we won.”
Dobson tied for the match-high with 11 kills and posted a match-high .588 hitting percentage. She made one error on 17 attempts.
Estes added 10 kills and two service aces.
Middle blocker Molly Spitznagle made a match-high five blocks and also finished with a .462 hitting percentage with eight kills.
“I thought Molly did a tremendous job.” Rosenthal said. “I told her we needed her to be more aggressive. I told her to drive the ball and she responded. I thought the way she played changed the match.
“Jewell was solid. Thomas was all over the place. Lauren Anderson was unreal. Nusbaum was up to her old tricks. Kaitlyn Teeter was serving bullets. It was a team effort.”
Outside hitter Carly Nusbaum made a match-high 14 digs. Libero Brittany Thomas added 13.
“I can’t say enough about our girls and the way they competed,” Rosenthal said. “The sign in our locker room says the only thing you deserve is what you earn. It has been in our locker room wall for 13 years and it will stay on there as long as I am here. We all earned this one.”
This and that
- The Bisons are 23-8 overall. Kennesaw State, playing in its first ever conference championship match, finished the season 19-9.
- This was the fifth time a Lipscomb player had been named the tournament MVP. Katie Rose won in 2011, Alex Kelly was selected in 2010 and Stefine “Jake” Pease was honored in 2009 and 2008.
- This is the third time the Bisons have won both the A-Sun regular season and the tournament championship.
- The NCAA Selection Show is scheduled for Nov. 29.