|November 16, 2018||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||Final|
KENNESAW, Ga. - In a match for the ages, the No. 3 seeded Lipscomb volleyball team faced off against No. 2 seed Kennesaw State Friday in a five-set thriller in the semifinals of the ASUN Conference Championship at the KSU Convocation Center.
With a trip to the ASUN Final on the line, the two teams battled it out point for point, but ultimately it was Kennesaw State who would managed to escape victorious, 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 24-26, 25-21, 13-15).
“This was a match for the ages that had the feel of a NCAA Tournament game and I can’t say enough about what our girls did tonight,” Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “It was heartbreaking to see us come up short after everything they had put into it.
“I am proud of each girl in the program and the fight they showed all season. It stings to come up just short, but I know we will take it and grow. The toughest part about tonight is that I thought we did enough to win, so it makes it a hard explanation when we don’t.”
Senior Carlyle Nusbaum was the driving force for Lipscomb as she was all over the floor. The Overland Park, Kansas native recorded 22 kills, seven digs and six blocks and etched her name in the record book in the process.
“It is bittersweet to see Carlyle break the career kills record,” Rosenthal said. “The number she broke was a big one. Alex Kelly, the former record holder, is an ambassador for what we represent and she set the bar so high that it took Carlyle to her very last match to break it.
“I know she is happy with this record, but I know she would rather have the W.”
With her 18th kill of the night, Nusbaum fittingly became Lipscomb’s all-time kills leader with 1,751. That number also places her second all-time in ASUN history, surpassing former Bison Alex Kelly – who totaled 1,746.The Bisons (18-12) played one of their best games offensively of the season, hitting at an efficient rate of .366 and finished the match with a season high 75 kills.
Lipscomb opened the match scorching hot in the first frame, hitting .452 with only three errors. The Bisons jumped up 6-3 on back-to-back kills from Megan Kuper. KSU battled back and eventually took a 2-point lead, but Lipscomb once again went on a run to put the Bisons back on top 17-13. The Owls wouldn’t go away and leveled the set at 23, but a KSU error was followed by a set-clinching kill from freshman Logan Gish.
Following tight wins in sets two and three for KSU, the Bisons found themselves backed against a wall, having to win set four to keep their season alive. Sophomore Sami Rubal put Lipscomb up early with a pair of kills, before the Owls swung things in their favor with a 7-2 run to go up three points. Rosenthal’s squad returned the favor with a 10-3 run to give Lipscomb its largest lead of the set at 15-11 en route to winning the frame, 25-21.
The fifth set saw Lipscomb register four of the first six points. KSU continued fighting and eventually captured a two-point lead midway through the final stanza.
Back-to-back KSU attack errors gave the Bisons an 11-10 lead and the momentum, but the home team wouldn’t go away. With the score even at 13, the defending ASUN champion Owls got a kill from Sydni Shelton and a block from Quin Sutphin to win the set and the match.
Rubal posted a career night for the Bisons with 16 kills on 19 swings for an impressive hitting clip of .842, all career highs. She also made an impact on the defensive side of the net chipping in five blocks, which was second on the team behind Nusbaum.
“We were dialed in defensively tonight,” Rosenthal said. “At the net we found ways to make adjustments and come up with timely blocks. It’s hard to look at this stat sheet and realize we lost.”
With the loss, five Bisons seniors, Nusbaum, Ca’Lacyi Coffey, Lauren Anderson, Marcella Emmanuelli and Carli Anderson have played their final game in a Lipscomb uniform.
“To the seniors, it was hard to walk into the locker room and know that it was the last conversation we would have after a game. What they did stat and win wise was fun, but what means most is what they brought individually and as a group.
“They are five absolutely tremendous people. They gave me everything they had and they bought into a dream and a vision. While this loss will sting, it’s not going to determine who they are and what they brought to Lipscomb athletics and this volleyball program.”
- This is the second year in a row that Lipscomb and KSU have met in the ASUN semifinals.
- The Bisons have now appeared in the ASUN semifinals for the 14th straight season.
- Lipscomb dropped all three matches to Kennesaw State this season. They have now lost six in a row to the Owls.
- The largest margin of victory in any set was Lipscomb’s four-point victory in the fourth set.
- Looking at the numbers, the Bisons seemed to control most of the match, but their Achilles heel was behind the service line. The Bisons had 17 services errors throughout the night, which kept KSU in the game.
- After the Owls controlled the net game in each of their first two meetings this season, the Bisons got the better of the Owls this time around, with a 14 to 11 block advantage.
- The Bisons also outhit the Owls .366 to .291.
- Kuper added 17 kills while hitting at an impressive .471 clip.
- Lauren Anderson had a season high 20 digs. She had double-digit digs in each of her final 11 games of the season.
- Coffey produced eight kills and hit .300 in her final match.
- Setter Morgan Elmore had a team high 47 assists. Emmanuelli added 17.
- Carli Anderson registered a trio of kills and two blocks.
“To the girls, I love them and I thank them,” Rosenthal said. “This season wasn’t one where everything went our way, but you have to give credit to the girls and the coaches for wanting to get better each and every day.
“I want to thank each of them for trusting in me and this program and its vision. It’s so much bigger than volleyball at Lipscomb, we are trying to prepare girls for the future as well as help them become the best player they can imagine. Thank you to our girls, thank you to our staff and thank you to the university.”