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Lady Bisons getting points from improved blocking
Lipscomb (17-6, 11-2 A-Sun)
Kennesaw State (10-14, 5-9 A-Sun)
11/1/2013 | Kennesaw, Ga. | Attendance: 407
Lipscomb252525 -- --
Kennesaw State202321 -- --
Stats at a GlanceLIPKSU
Hitting Pct..398.245
Total Attacks88102
Statistical LeadersLIPKSU
KillsDOBSON - 16
AssistsDOTSON - 33
AcesCANNON - 1
DigsDOTSON - 9

Thursday, October 31, 2013
by Mark McGee

When it comes to numbers the Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team has put up some impressive ones so far this season.

They head into this weekend’s trip to Georgia ranked 74th in the RPI, a jump of 11 places over last week.

“That was a big jump,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “I anticipated a jump of four or five points. I was a little surprised to see 11.

“We are getting to a level where I think we deserve to be. This team has shown consistency all year long, minus two letdowns.  We are a legitimate top 50 team. Right now, we are knocking on that door.”

The Lady Bisons face Kennesaw State, 10-13 overall, 5-8 in the A-Sun at 6 p.m. Friday. They travel to Mercer Saturday afternoon for a 2 p.m. match. The Lady Bisons, 16-6 overall, 10-2 in the conference, need only one win to clinch their ninth straight berth in the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

The Lady Bisons lead NCAA Division I in kills per set for the eighth week in a row with 15.49, but dropped to second in assists per set this week with 14.42. They trail Missouri with 14.51. The Lady Bisons are 15th in the nation with a .277 hitting percentage.

Individually, setter Caitlin “Dot” Dotson still leads the nation with 12.84 assists per set. Middle blocker Jewell Dobson is sixth in points per set with 5.41 and seventh in kills per set with 4.78.

Both Dobson and middle blocker Molly Spitznagle are in the top 30 in hitting percentage. Spitznagle’s .404 ranks her 25th. Dobson’s .400 is the 30th best in the nation.

Around the block

But the number that most intrigues Rosenthal is the team’s blocks per set. They moved from eighth to sixth in conference matches this week with 1.75 per set.

The Lady Bisons have a new emphasis on blocking this season. It started with former assistant coach Jeff Wismer and has been elevated by the work of assistant coach Ann Armes who was known for her blocking ability as a player for Kentucky.

“We hadn’t put an emphasis on it for years,” Rosenthal said. “A year ago in January we started. Jeff really pushed for it and convinced me why it was valuable. Jeff laid some fantastic ground work. I was very nervous going into the season how we were going to extend it.

“Ann has done a nice job of doing that. Ann emphasized blocking in club, high school and college. Some of it is because she was a really good blocker. She has brought that mentality to us and that has helped us.”

One of the strategic areas for Rosenthal over the offseason was to find new ways to score points. Block points were the answer. In Saturday’s 3-2 win over Jacksonville, a block by Dobson and right side Brittnay Estes provided the match and set point in the 15-12 fifth set.

“The big part for us was the idea of where we are going to come up with points,” Rosenthal said. “Those points were sitting out there.

“We had not won a match like that on a block before. We had two or three opportunities passing and couldn’t get it done. It was fun to end a match with a block point because it was unexpected.”

Rosenthal stresses that the team still has some work to do to make the block an even more important part of the overall strategy.

“A lot of it is a mindset and an attitude,” Rosenthal said. “We are building on it, but it is going to take some time. We want to see steady progress.

“We have to be patient with it. It is easy to get caught up in what we are not doing. But I am pretty impressed with the results so far. If you look at the first half of the season compared to the second half of the season we are blocking more balls.”

Kennesaw on the rise

Kennesaw State is working to remain in contention for a postseason tournament berth. Each match is important. The Owls lostTuesday night to ETSU.

“Kennesaw State is on the rise,” Rosenthal said. “They have a new coach and it takes a little bit longer to adjust.

“Keith Schunzel and I know each other fairly well. We talk all of the time. His players are starting to believe. Every time they go out they realize they are one match closer to the end. With them hosting the tournament I imagine they want to be there.”

 The game will be shown on ESPN3.