Thursday, December 3, 2009
Opposites Attract Wins for Lipscomb Volleyball
Those two words tell you everything you need to know about Lipscomb juniors Alex Kelly and Stefine “Jake” Pease. Those are also the words head coach Brandon Rosenthal would use to describe the pair.
In three seasons, Kelly and Pease have racked up an overall record of 69-26 and a mark of 44-7 in Atlantic Sun Conference play. The two have also earned eight league “Player of the Week” awards, four First-Team All-Atlantic Sun honors, two A-Sun Championships, two Player of the Year trophies, one regular season conference crown and two tournament MVP selections, not to mention leading Lipscomb to two NCAA tournaments and three Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship Finals.
Despite the fact that these two work like a well oiled machine on the court might surprise some that off the floor these two are not as close. Pease remains a soft spoken and levelheaded leader while Kelly runs the court with a fiery intensity, often putting her emotions on full display.
“It surprises people we are not best friends,” Pease said. “It is not that we don’t like each other, it is just we are very different in so many ways.”
Though the two may differ off the court, on the same side of the net they are a winning combination. It is something that their head coach knows is quite rare.
“Usually when two players move from club (volleyball) to college one shines and they other is not as successful.” Rosenthal said. “Jake came in and was so successful right away that I think it helped Alex develop and I think together they are better then they would be apart. To be honest we got lucky with two very talented young ladies.”
Pease earned all of the accolades during her high school club volleyball years, with her including being named the 2006 Gatorade High School Player of the Year. Rosenthal knew the moment he saw Pease that he needed this player in Lipscomb’s Purple and Gold. Pease committed early to Lipscomb and remained unaware she would end up playing with the same middle hitter in college. At the time Rosenthal did not know it either.
“I went to tournament with Jake early on and knew right away this is the setter I need to build around.” Rosenthal said. “We were looking for a setter first. Months later it was one of my assistants that floated the idea of adding Alex as well.”
Rosenthal saw Pease as great talent that could set in right away and be one of the best players in the conference, but in Kelly he saw a talented young player who needed to develop and who had great on court chemistry with her setter.
“Jake is a great setter and the best one I have ever had.” Kelly said. “We really mesh well on the court and I love to hit off her. I am very picky with my sets.”
Off the court the two tend to contrast, not so much as in polar opposites but more as in two sides of the same coin. Kelly and Pease have a tremendous desire to win but each approach it in different ways.
“We do not always see eye to eye on a lot of things.” Kelly said “But when we hit the court a switch flips and we both have a trust in one another that we will do anything to win.”