Nov. 17, 2006
The outcome was the same, but the experience was better.
For the second year in a row the No. 3-seeded Lady Bisons beat No. 6-seeded Mercer in the quarterfinals of the Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Tournament Friday afternoon at the Curb Event Center at Belmont University. Tonight at 7 the Lady Bisons take on Belmont, the No. 2 seed.
The Lady Bisons raised their record to 14-16 overall, marking the most wins ever by the program.
"We know we deserve to be here," Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. "We have shown it all season long. Last year we were happy to be here. This is the biggest stage any of our players have been on.
"This year we are kind of on a mission. We are ready for Belmont."
One thing that made the experience better was that this time around the Lady Bisons beat Mercer 3-0 instead of the 3-1 match finish of last season.
"That's part of the experience from last year to win 3-0," Rosenthal said. "I think we were up 2-0 last year and let down in the third game.
"Matches like this are why we play the tough schedule that we play. Those matches prepare us for the conference tournament. It's tough to put a team away 3-0. It's hard to keep the next match on the back burner."
In all three games the Lady Bisons started making their move at around the 16-point mark.
"We knew what we could do," Rosenthal said. "I wasn't real pleased how we started each of the games, but at the same time we have been here before. Our players are very experienced. I was real happy how we were able to separate in each game and really pour it on at the end of each game.
"Our players are well-prepared and well-rested. As long as we stuck to our game plan, which we did, we were going to eventually pull away. I was real happy with that."
Once again, Lindsey Rutherford, an All A-Sun First Team selection, led the Lady Bisons attack with a match-high 18 kills. Rutherford also set a new season-high hitting percentage of .654.
"Lindsey is a senior and to see her perform against Mercer shows you why she was named to the All-Conference first team," Rosenthal said. "Lindsey is a tremendous competitor. She is not one of those big bangers, but she knows what works for her. She executes her game well. I love what she did against Mercer."
Ann Mullins, also an All A-Sun First Team member, put in another strong defensive performance with a match-high 24 digs.
"It was another typical performance for Ann," Rosenthal said. "She is a tremendous player."
"I thought Cara played extremely well, especially after the first 10 points of the first game," Rosenthal said. "Cara did a fantastic job passing. She really kind of kept us in the game at a couple of points where we were one point up or one point down and at one point when we were three or four points down."
No Mercer players finished in double figures in kills. Julie Darty and Karen Dorris each finished with eight. Liz Kane was credited with 12 digs. Claire Tucker made 11.