NASHVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time in the history of the program the Lipscomb volleyball team finished the 2016 season with a national statistical first place.
The Bisons averaged 14.03 assists per set. San Diego was second with 13.93. Lipscomb was second in kills per set with 14.92. San Diego was first with 14.93.
“When you look at the teams we are in front of it is a pretty impressive group, not just name-wise, but what they did in the postseason,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “It is really intriguing.
“When you are No. 1 in the country in assists you have to pass well and you have to be efficient with your attacks. These are things that over the past seven or eight years we have really put a lot of emphasis on.”
Making the accomplishment even more interesting is this was the first season the Bisons, the ASUN Conference regular season and tournament champion, had used a 6-2 offense.
“When you are No. 1 in assists per set and No. 2 in kills per set in the country with the schedule we had speaks volumes about what we are trying to do on a national scale,” Rosenthal said. “We have been saying for years we don’t want to just be the best in the ASUN or the Southeast. We are really striving to be one of the best teams in the country.
“I am really proud of this team. This is a pretty cool thing, no doubt.”
On a regular basis the Bisons were posting as many as 17 to 19 kills per set.
“When you are scoring 25 points and 21 of those points are from kills that means a couple of things,” Rosenthal said. “One, it means we probably didn’t block enough.
“But on a positive note for a team to score like that there are a lot of pieces behind the scenes that are working – the passing, the defense and the hitters getting into position.”
Adding another level to the success is senior Kayla Ostrom shared playing time with freshman Morgan Elmore.
“Most people are going to look at this and say Kayla and Morgan had fantastic years and they did,” Rosenthal said. “But there are a lot more people involved.”
Lipscomb was the only team on the country averaging more than 14 assists per set.
“We had a pretty interesting dynamic with a senior and a freshman,” Rosenthal said. “Kayla had become one of the top setters in the country for the previous two years and we asked her to change her role. That could have gone south in a hurry.
“On the other side Morgan Elmore has a huge future here. We asked her to come in and do this right out of the gate.”
There were also some new hitters playing bigger roles with Chloe Rogers and Taylor Racich at the right side and Maddie Phillips in the middle.
“When you pull back the layers there is a lot more to it,” Rosenthal said. “Being No. 1 in the country is assists per set and No. 2 in kills per set is pretty special.
“If there were one or two categories to lead in these would be the ones we want as coaches. The stat I like the most is wins, but the first thing everyone looks at is kills per set. Kills and assist kind of go hand-in-hand.”
The Bisons were in the top 25 in several categories. They were 10th in aces per set with 1.71, 18th in team service aces with 186 and 24th in hitting percentage with a .262.
Individually, Racich finished 15th in both aces per set with .45 and service aces with 49.
Carlyle Nusbaum was 15th in kills per set with 4.50, 20th in points per set with 4.95 and 31st in total kills with 491.