|October 13, 2017||1st||2nd||3rd||Final|
THOMAS - 8
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Slow starts have been an issue for the Lipscomb volleyball team this season, but that was not the case on Friday.
The Bisons strung together one of their largest runs of the season in the opening set and parlayed that into a straight-set sweep (25-14, 25-22, 27-25) over NJIT in ASUN Conference action at Allen Arena.
“A conference win is a conference win,” Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “NJIT continues to be an improved team, they have a lot of nice pieces. They play hard and never give up on plays and that showed at the end with that run they made.
“I am proud of our girls coming back and fighting at the end.”
Lipscomb improved to 10-9 overall and 3-3 in league play with the victory, while NJIT dropped to 10-12 and 1-5.
Outside hitter Megan Kuper is enjoying a nice freshman campaign for Lipscomb this season, but Friday night she had the best game of her career.
The Olathe, Kansas native shined with a career high eight kills and five blocks. She also swung .533 and led the team with 10.5 points. Kuper credits her teammates for preparing her for these type of moments.
“It’s so much fun here at Lipscomb,” Kuper said. “I have never gotten home sick once, and that has a lot to do with the team. Those girls are my best friends on and off the court.
“When we are on the floor, they give me so much confidence to go out and play with no hesitation. They are definitely a big part of what I did tonight.”
NJIT and Lipscomb traded points for much of the first set before the Highlanders grabbed an 11-10 advantage, immediately forcing Rosenthal to call a timeout. The Bisons responded with a 15-3 run to win the stanza, including a stretch of 11 straight points.
Kuper wasted little time after being inserted into the lineup in the second set. With the score tied 6-6, Kuper blocked three balls and registered two kills in the span of six plays to give Lipscomb a lead it would never give back.
“That’s what Kuper is capable of,” Rosenthal said. “It’s fun to see her go out and really compete. I thought she did a fantastic job of blocking, as she came up with some huge stops.”
NJIT’s only lead in the third stanza was at 1-0. From there Lipscomb jumped out to as much as a six-point lead before the Highlanders battled back to knot things at 25. The Bisons defense stood tall, however, and came up with back-to-back blocks to secure the victory.
The Bisons produced a balanced attack that led to their fifth-best hitting clip of the season at .278, and only committed 17 errors in 97 attacks. Six different players registered at least four kills.
“I thought we kept our errors relatively low for the most part,” Rosenthal said. “When you sub as much as we did, it kind of creates a rotation you aren’t as familiar with, but I thought we did a nice job of handling it.
“The match looks a little different on the box score than from the way I felt about it. Being able to get a block at the end was huge, as far as making a statement.”
- The Bisons limited NJIT to a .086 hitting percentage, its lowest percentage in ASUN play this season.
- Lipscomb improved to 5-0 all-time against NJIT.
- Lauren Anderson led Lipscomb with nine kills to go along with her seven digs. Her 9.5 points only trailed Kuper for the team high.
- Chloe Rogers chipped in eight kills. She has 29 in her last three matches.
- Brittany Thomas and Morgan Elmore led the team with eight digs each.
- Freshman Alyssa Zwolensky recorded a career high four digs and picked up her first career kill in the win.
- Elmore dished out a match high 32 helpers.
- Middle blockers Maddie Phillips, Sami Rubal and Ca’Layci Coffey combined for 10 kills and 10 blocks.
- Freshman Ashley Maher made her second consecutive start.
- Carlyle Nusbaum only played the first set, but finished with five kills while hitting .375. She failed to scoop up a dig for just the second time this season – both occasions she only played one set.
- All 15 players for Lipscomb saw the court in the victory.
“Game experience is really important, even if it’s only for a point or two,” Rosenthal said. “Tonight afforded us that opportunity and they played well.
“We are going to need every one of these girls at some point, so it was necessary to give them some time. “
Lipscomb hosts USC Upstate on Saturday at 3 p.m. Fans need to check back around 11 a.m. tomorrow on the website and twitter for details on a potential venue change. If power is not restored on campus by that time, the match will be moved to Ensworth High School at 3 p.m.
“They are one of the scrappiest teams in the conference,” Rosenthal said. “Right now every match is huge for us. We both are hungry, so it’s going to take one of those high-effort energy matches out of the gate.”
“We’ve talked all week about having the ability to grab some momentum and capitalize on that. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to finish off a fantastic week.”