Having dropped only five sets all season in conference games, one can imagine the shock on the Lipscomb bench when ETSU opened up the Atlantic Sun Conference Volleyball Championship by claiming the first two sets.
“We had a great year with winning matches 3-0 so when lost the opening set we kind of looked around and wondered what was happening, but at the same time ETSU was playing great volleyball to start the game,” stated Tournament MVP Alex Kelly of falling behind 2-0.
Lipscomb, who hasn’t lost an A-Sun contest since falling to Belmont in the 2008 A-Sun Championship final in which they also fell behind 2-0 to start the match, understood what they were facing down two sets going into the break. Having played in four consecutive title games, Lipscomb had plenty of leadership and experience to pull of the comeback.
“We were just trying too much - we were trying to make every spectacular play and we need to play our brand of volleyball and that’s what disappointed me most about our play in the first two sets,” Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal said of the team’s opening play. “To have the experience of players that have been in the title game before was great because they understodd the situation we were in down two and they listened to what our coaching staff was saying to them and went out and executed in the final three sets.”
Set three went Lipscomb’s way with the Lady Bisons winning 25-16 and the momentum started to go the way of the defending champions as they started their trek back to winning the A-Sun title after taking the fourth set as well, 25-22.
“The seniors didn’t want to finish their careers by losing to ETSU, 3-0, in the finals so we came out much stronger in the third set and after claiming the fourth I think the whole team knew that we were going to win the final set,” Kelly added.
With a dominating performance in the final set, 15-8, the Lady Bisons completed a comeback only seen once before in an A-Sun title match by outscoring the Bucs 65-46 in the final three sets to claim back-to-back titles and send Lipscomb to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and third in the past four even if it wasn’t the way the team imagined it would happen.
Rosenthal added of the match, “We didn’t think it would play out like that, but that’s volleyball."