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Challenging schedule awaits 3-time defending champs

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After taking on one of the most difficult schedules in school history in 2011, the Lipscomb volleyball team is set to face an even tougher slate in 2012 as Coach Brandon Rosenthal has ratcheted up the competition the Lady Bisons will take on this fall.

Lipscomb looks to notch the sixth-straight, 20-win season and nab the fifth Atlantic Sun Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance in the last

“This is by far the toughest schedule that we have ever assembled,” said Rosenthal.  “We understand that for us to continue to take Lipscomb Volleyball to the next level we must put ourselves in position to compete against other top programs.  There is no doubt that when the NCAA Tournament Committee saw the victory against Louisville last year that it helped in our tournament pairing.

“Our theory is simple, the only way we will ever have a chance to continue to beat these top programs is to schedule them.  We also feel that this type of scheduling will help with competing in the Atlantic Sun, which we will go back to a double round-robin format.”

Taking on seven teams that made the NCAA Tournament in 2011 including three in the opening weekend, the Lady Bisons kick off the campaign at the “Kentucky Classic” on Aug 24 against Long Beach State, who competed in the UCLA regional.  Lipscomb follows up with matches on the 25th against host Kentucky, who won the Texas A&M regional that the Lady Bisons competed in, and Atlantic Coast Conference foe North Carolina, who lost to Pepperdine in the second round of the NCAA tourney.

“This will be a true test for us, especially for our young girls competing against this level of completion.  As our freshmen showed last year, our girls aren’t afraid of playing against these teams.”

The Lady Bisons return home from the “Bluegrass State” for a Labor Day weekend tournament hosting Appalachian State, who features former Lady Bisons standout Alex Kelly on the bench as assistant coach and Southeastern Conference foe Missouri on Friday, Aug. 31.  The two-day event then concludes with a match against Houston on Saturday, Sept. 1 at Allen Arena. LU continues home action on Sept. 4 hosting in-state rival Austin Peay from the Ohio Valley Conference.

The following weekend Lipscomb is set for the longest trip of the season with an appearance in the “Arizona Invitational” in Tuscon, Ariz.  The Lady Bisons face off against Iona and Texas Christian on Sept. 7 before a battle with host Arizona on Sept. 8.

Another NCAA foe awaits the Lady Bisons on Sept. 11 as Lipscomb makes the trek to take on Western Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky.  Lipscomb then will make the third trip of the season to Kentucky to welcome new Atlantic Sun Conference member Northern Kentucky to the league on Sept. 18.

A-Sun home action begins for the three-time defending A-Sun champs on Sept. 21 as Jacksonville comes to the “Music City” followed by a visit from North Florida on the 22nd.  Lipscomb then hits the road for four straight conference tilts with a trip to take on Kennesaw State and Mercer on Sept. 28-29 before a jaunt to play at ETSU and USC Upstate on Oct. 5-6.

Florida Gulf Coast and Stetson come to Nashville as A-Sun home play continues on Oct. 12-13 before the Lady Bisons make their first trip of the season to Florida on Oct. 19-20 to take on North Florida and Jacksonville on their home turf.

The Lady Bisons return home from the “Sunshine State” for a five-game home stretch against conference foes.  ETSU makes the cross-state trip on the 26th before USC-Upstate comes to town the following day.  The Northern Kentucky Norse make their first appearance at Allen Arena on Oct. 30 before Kennesaw State and Mercer round out the home A-Sun slate for the Bisons on Nov. 2-3.

Lipscomb then makes a second trip to the “Sunshine State” on Nov. 9-10 to round out the conference slate against FGCU and Stetson.

The Atlantic Sun Conference tournament returns to Allen Arena for the second-straight year on Nov. 15-17 as the Lady Bisons look to make it four straight tournament championships.

“I truly feel playing at home during the tournament helped in a big way last year,” said Rosenthal.  “It was fun winning in front of our fans and being able to prepare in very familiar surroundings.”

The regular season then wraps up on Nov. 23 as the Lady Bisons host in-state power and 2011 NCAA participant Middle Tennessee on “Black Friday”.