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ETSU (22-12, 11-7 A-Sun)
Lipscomb (18-12, 15-3 A-Sun)
11/16/2012 | Nashville, Tenn. | Attendance: 0
Friday, November 16, 2012
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-It ended as conference tournaments do for most teams with tears of sadness, hugs of consolation and a sense of disbelief.
It ended as most conference tournaments do, but it did not end the way tournaments usually end for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team.
For the first time in six years the Lady Bisons will not be in the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship match Saturday. After three straight years of NCAA appearances there will be no postseason in 2012 for the Lady Bisons.
“I told the girls when you a part of our program, and we ask you to give everything that you’ve got, you are really putting yourself out there,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “They are a bit vulnerable.
“And when I say that, I’m talking about living life to the fullest and going all out. Whether it is in the classroom, on the court or in the community we want them to go all in. It is a tricky environment. We turn it up a little bit here and expect more. That is where that vulnerability comes from."
Friday night in the semifinals of the A-Sun Tournament at Allen Arena the No. 2-seeded Lady Bisons fell 3-1 to No. 3-seed ETSU. The Lady Bisons lost the first set 25-19. They dropped the next three by scores of 26-24, 25-22 and 25-20.
“This was a night we haven’t really experienced in a long time,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t wish that any of our girls should have to go through this.
“The truth of the matter is that our girls fought hard. They never gave up. We had unforced errors and in a match like this you can’t afford them. But I am extremely proud of this team.”
The Lady Bisons are 18-12, ending a string of five seasons where they have posted at least 20 victories. They were 15-3 in conference play. ETSU is 22-12 overall, 11-7 in the A-Sun.
“It is natural for this to kind of eat at the girls a little bit,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t it to eat at them forever. It is healthy for them to not like this, but at the same time they know they played hard.
“We talk about that margin of error. And that margin of error got the best of us. But ultimately they will build from this experience.”
Next year there will be three seniors on the team - setter Caitlin Dotson, libero Stephanie Rex and middle blocker Claire Peterson.
“They have tasted both sides of winning and losing now and they are going to want that winning feeling back,” Rosenthal said. “I have no doubt they will be back and work harder than ever for what they want.”
The Lady Bisons lose only one senior, outside hitter Kaycee Green. But she ended her career on a strong note with a match-high 22 kills, two blocks and 23 points.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Kaycee,” Rosenthal said. “She really bought into the program and gave everything she had. Kaycee has done a lot of good here. She has nothing to hang her head about.
“This match was a great example of that. She wasn’t going to leave anything out there. That is a reflection on her as a person as much as it is for her as a player. It was hard for me to see Kaycee in the locker room like that after the loss, but I am not sure there was a whole lot more that Kaycee could give.”
Also in double figures in kills for the Lady Bisons were middle blocker Jewell Dobson with 15 followed by outside hitter Lauren Ford with 14 and middle blocker Molly Spitznagle with 10.
Rex posted a match-high 15 digs. Outside hitter Sophie Kellerman added nine.
Megan Devine, A-Sun Player of the Year, led ETSU with 15 kills. Meredith Hardy added 14 and Bethany Gesell finished with 13.
Devine completed the double-double with a team-high 14 digs. Katie Muey made 11 digs.
The Lady Bisons still have one match remaining. They will play Middle Tennessee State at Allen Arena Friday night at 6. The players are spending some time with their families and will return to campus Wednesday for a practice session. They will spend Thanksgiving at the Rosenthal home in what has become a team tradition.
“This is a family,” Rosenthal said. “We will spend Thanksgiving together and have some fun with that.
“It is hard to put things in perspective right now. But I know the character of this team and they want more.”
Green was named on the A-Sun All Tournament Team.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.