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Lipscomb (8-8 (5-0 A-Sun))
Mercer (6-9 (2-3 A-Sun))
9/29/2012 | Macon, Ga. | Attendance: 171
Saturday, September 29, 2012
MACON, Ga. - What has happened off the court has been as important as what the Lipscomb Lady Bisons have been doing on the court.
With three freshmen players and a new assistant coach in the mix, Lipscomb volleyball coach Brandon Rosenthal had been worrying about the chemistry of his team.
He isn't worried any more.
"This team has done an unbelievable job of understanding they had to learn some things off the court about each other," Rosenthal said. "We are seeing that and I give the girls credit.
"It was a matter of how do they push each other...how do they hold each other accountable. It is real easy to look at teams of the past and assume that every one of them is the same, but this is a totally different team. The players had to find their voice and find their leaders. The chemistry of the team is huge."
Saturday afternoon at Mercer's Hawkins Arena the Lady Bisons won 3-1 over the Bears for the fifth straight win and third straight road win of the season, all in Atlantic Sun Conference games.
The victory evened the Lady Bisons overall record at 8-8, 5-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer is 6-9, 2-3 in the conference. Lipscomb is 13-6 overall against Mercer and has not lost in the series since 2007.
The Lady Bisons used a combined 16 kills from Lauren Ford, Jewell Dobson and Kaycee Green to take a 25-19 win in the first set.
In the second set the Lady Bisons prevailed 25-17 behind a solid defensive effort.
Mercer jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the third set and never looked back for a 25-18 decision.
"In the third set we started off slow and I just didn't see the fight that I wanted to see," Rosenthal said. "We knew Mercer was going to jump out and put some pressure on us."
The Lady Bisons needed a strong finish to take a 25-23 victory to close out the match. Down 23-21 the Lady Bisons used two kills by Green and a final kill by freshman middle blocker Molly Spitznagle to make the dramatic comeback.
"We knew what we were faced with," Rosenthal said. "Kaycee was huge at the end of the match. This is what being in a conference, being on the road and being a champion is all about."
Caitlin "Dot" Dotson had 23 digs, a career and match-high for the Lady Bisons. Dotson also found Spitznagle at the end of the fourth set to set up the match-winning kill.
"Hats off to Dot," Rosenthal said. "I thought Dot made a great set there at the end."
Green made a match-high 22 kills and Ford added 17. Ford also was credited with 14 digs for her sixth double-double of the season.
Megan Stout tied her season-high with 10 digs. Stephanie Rex added 17.
But Spitznagle was singled out by Rosenthal for her eight kills and six blocks.
"We had some huge plays from Molly," Rosenthal said. "We kept encouraging her as she went along. She is so quick off of the ground, but she has to be looking to score more.
"What I love about it is a freshman is stepping up. Molly is a tremendous athlete and is going to continue to be a better player."
Jamie Duffy was the only Mercer player in double figures in kills with 10. Emily Rochefort led with 21 digs followed by Molly Locke with 18 and Duffy with 12.
"Mercer did a nice job, especially on a couple of our players," Rosenthal said. "I thought Mercer did a nice job defensively. I thought their libero, Rochefort, came up with some unbelievable plays, not just in straight digs but in hustle plays.
"I wouldn't say it was our best match execution-wise, but in the end we found a way to win. Everybody got in. It was a total team effort. Everybody contributed and that is what I love about it. "
Rosenthal also pointed to the work of new assistant coach Jeff Wismer, graduate assistant coach Jake Pease and new volunteer assistant Christina Key.
"They do a great job of reminding me how I need to go about things," Rosenthal said. "It is an exciting time. We have several new people, but are all learning together.
"Jeff is doing a great job of finding the happy medium of when to tell me things and when to jump in. And Jake does a great job of processing information and telling me what I need to hear while also telling me what I don't want to hear."
The Lady Bisons are back on the road next weekend with a stop at USC Upstate Friday, Oct. 5 and a visit to ETSU Saturday, Oct. 6.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.