|November 21, 2019||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
Perez - 1
Spence - 1
Ivanova - 1
RUBAL - 3
PHILLIPS - 3
FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the 15th-straight year, the Lipscomb volleyball team has advanced to the semifinals of the ASUN Tournament with a 3-1 victory over Stetson Thursday night in Alico Arena.
The Bisons (16-12) defeated the fifth-seeded Hatters (12-15) by scores of 18-25, 25-19, 30-28 and 25-20 in the tournament opener.
“First off, this was a gritty performance by our girls,” head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “Stetson is a tough team to play against and they caused us problems in each of the matches we’ve played them this year with their defensive pressure.
“I am really, really proud of the girls for battling through more mentally than anything. When you have that back up against the wall mentality it wears on you, but I am proud of them and the way they played tonight.”
The victory advances Lipscomb to a semifinal round match against top-seeded FGCU on Friday. That match will begin at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN+.
“The 15 straight trips to the semifinals is pretty special,” Rosenthal said. “We aren’t here to just reach that round, we are here to win it all, but if you put this into perspective it’s remarkable. A lot of players, coaches and teams have come and gone over time, but to be that consistent is special. We have to figure out a way to get ready for tomorrow.”
Four Bisons led the way offensively with Sami Rubal continuing her hot streak. The junior middle recorded a match-high 16 kills while swinging .361 with three blocks. She now has 56 kills to only 7 errors over the last four matches.
Megan Kuper collected her fifth double-double of the season with 13 kills and a career high-tying 17 digs. Freshman Lauren Myrick chipped in with 11 kills and a pair of blocks, while Lanie Wagner finished with 10.
Senior setter and ASUN All-Academic Team selection Morgan Elmore dished out a 53 assists, while adding a career-high 19 digs and three blocks for her seventh double-double of the year.
The Bisons played stellar defense and it changed the tone of the match. Five different players recorded double-digit digs with Alyssa Zwolensky (13), Ashley Maher (12) and Alexis Triplett (12) joining Kuper and Elmore.
Lipscomb got off to a slow start in the first set and allowed the Hatters to lead from the opening point. After the Bisons scored three straight points to pull to within one, Stetson responded with a 6-0 run to take a 13-6 lead. Lipscomb continued battling, and after kills from Logan Gish and Megan Kuper, junior Ashley Maher landed an ace to cut the deficit back to one. However, the Hatters won the final six points to take the opening set, 25-19.
The momentum Stetson gained from set one carried over into the start of the second as the Hatters scored six of the first eight points of the frame. From there it would be all Bisons the rest of the way as a 23-13 closing run gave Lipscomb the 25-19 set victory and evened the match at 1-1. Junior Sami Rubal recorded a team-high five kills in the stanza, while Lauren Myrick, Kuper and Lanie Wagner each picked up three.
The third set featured one of the grittiest comeback performances of the season from the purple and gold. After both sides traded 6-point runs, the Hatters eventually built a 20-13 lead and forced Lipscomb to call both of its timeouts. A quick kill from Morgan Elmore changed the tone and started a run Stetson could not stop. Down four, the Bisons took advantage of a Hatter error and got kills from Kuper and Myrick to get to set point with a 24-23 lead. Following each side staving off two set points apiece, the Bisons fought off another as Wagner and Rubal hammered home back-to-back swings before an attack sailed over the end line for the Hatters to give Lipscomb a thrilling 30-28 victory.
“In the third set I thought we were hesitant with our defense, and at the net, but I kept urging them to please go after them (Stetson) and keep the pressure on,” Rosenthal said. “We responded late, where most teams would have given up while down 20-13, but our group just kept getting a few points here and there.
“We made a couple of really nice plays down the stretch to finally put us over the top.”
The fourth frame saw the teams battle evenly throughout with neither side taking more than a three-point lead until back-to-back kills from Rubal and Kuper gave the Bisons a 23-19 lead. Three possessions later, Wagner buried her 10th kill of the night to advance Lipscomb with a 25-20 victory.
- The Bisons improved to 25-2 all-time against the Hatters, despite Thursday being the first-ever meeting between the programs in the ASUN Championship.
- Lipscomb outhit Stetson .221 to .201 with 66 kills and 22 errors on 199 total attacks.
- The Bisons were outstanding off the service line with a season-high nine aces. Triplett led the way with three, while Kuper and Elmore each recorded two.
- Elmore averaged 58.3 assists in three meetings with the Hatters this season. She produced 62 and 60 in the regular season meetings.
- The Hatters did outgain the Bisons 10-8 in blocks.
- Maddie Phillips recorded eight kills, three blocks and four digs in the win.
The Bisons advance to the semifinals of the ASUN Championship and will take on host and No. 1 seed FGCU at 4 p.m. CT on ESPN+.
“They are going to be a challenge and we recognize that,” Rosenthal said. “They are the defending champions and once again the regular season champion, but why wouldn’t you want to go through the champion to win it all?
“I thought we really did some nice things against them at our place, so we are excited to play them. This is what it’s all about, you have to beat great teams along the way.”