NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Prior to the final regular season match Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal asked his players what simple action they could take to produce new momentum towards success.
“We had an opportunity to build on something and really get something going,” Rosenthal said. “Or we could choose to just cruise into the tournament.
“I was very up front. We were both in the tournament so what was to gain. I think momentum was here to gain. I told them I wanted them to go after it.”
The Lady Bisons chose the momentum route. They ended the Atlantic Sun Conference regular season with a 3-0 sweep of Florida Gulf Coast Saturday afternoon at Allen Arena. They won set one 25-20, set two 25-13 and set three 25-19.
The Purple and Gold have won 12 of their last 13 matches.
“I thought we did a fantastic job,” Rosenthal said. “I was really proud of our girls. I thought we played a complete game.”
Rosenthal thought it could be the best overall match his Lady Bisons have played this season.
“I think it is a great spot for us to be in as we build towards the tournament,” Rosenthal said. “Obviously, we are disappointed that we didn’t get it done as far as the regular season championship.
“We were faced with some circumstances this season. I thought we performed well. Now it is real simple – win.”
The Lady Bisons will be the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament which starts Thursday at Kennesaw State University in Kennesaw Ga. The Lady Bisons, 21-7, 15-3, will face the host Owls, 13-15, 8-10, the No. 6 seed in the quarterfinals.
The winner will play ETSU, the No. 2 seed, in the semifinals.
The winner of the tournament gets the A-Sun’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Bisons used a balanced attack on offense and defense against Florida Gulf Coast.
“We did some really nice things defensively,” Rosenthal said. “But the part about the defense that I liked was that we were going from defense to offense seamlessly. When do that you can score a lot of points.”
Middle blocker Jewell Dobson, who sang the “National Anthem” before the match, posted a match-high 18 kills. She tied for the third highest number of kills in a three-set match for the Lady Bisons program.
Outside hitter Lauren Ford added 11. Middle blocker Molly Spitznagle finished with 10 and a match-high .500 hitting percentage.
Setter Caitlin “Dot” Dotson made 45 assists.
“We had three players in double figures and Brittnay Estes was just off of that mark with eight,” Rosenthal said. “We talked with Dot in between sets one and two. I thought she was setting a really nice game.
“One of the things I thought she could do better was increase the speed. I thought she responded and took our advice really well. She controlled the game. We really put things together in sets two and three.”
Libero Bri McCombs led the defense with a match-high 18 digs. She also made a match-high three service aces.
“Bri played great all weekend,” Rosenthal said. “She is one of the top defensive players in the conference, if not the top one.
“I thought Stephanie Rex did a fantastic job. Megan Stout made some huge plays. Kayla Ostrom and Sophie Kellerman both did a nice job. We had really good defensive back row play and then we did some nice things at the net as well.”
Florida Gulf Coast, 13-18, 10-8 in the conference, did not have a player in double figures in kills. Karina Mambuca had 11 digs and Whitney Masters chipped in with 10.
“It was an exciting match,” Rosenthal said. “I think the girls are excited. We have been building. Practices this week were awesome. The girls were very focused and driven.
“They have this `can’t wait’ mentality right now. They can’t wait to get to the tournament and do what they need to do.”