Friday, November 19, 2010

Pease and Kelly: The Foundation for Lipscomb's Success

In the 2005 and 2006 seasons, the Lipscomb volleyball team finished fourth in the A-Sun Conference with a combined 27-37 record and 11-7 in conference play. Then the freshman class of Alex Kelly and Stefine “Jake” Pease enrolled on the Lipscomb University campus in Nashville, Tenn. and the program began to see great success with a 91-33 mark with 54 conference victories since 2007.

In their freshman seasons, the Lady Bisons increased their win total by seven games and entered the A-Sun Championship as the four seed. Once there, the Lady Bisons defeated No. 5 Mercer in the opening round, top-seeded Belmont in the semifinals and then captured the conference tournament with a sweep of Jacksonville to give Lipscomb its first tournament title in program history.

Kelly and Pease were both named to the All-Tournament team during that run, which was just the beginning of the awards that were about to pile in for the duo as two years later Lipscomb picked up its second team title defeating FGCU in the final.

“Jake (Pease) and Alex (Kelly) have really raised the bar for our program,” head coach Brandon Rosenthal stated of the duo. “It’s really rewarding and great to see them pick up all of these awards over the span of their careers because they have earned them by being the hardest workers day in and day out.”

Now after adding Elly Kaiser for the 2008 season and one year later the tandem of Meghan Hinemeyer and Tory Ashcraft jumped on board to form the five-person senior class for the Bisons that have won 35-straight A-Sun regular-season matches, which currently ranks as the second longest in the nation.

“We expect to go out and win and I like that because that is where our program has transitioned to,” Rosenthal added of the program’s improvement over the past four years. “That is a level back in the day we weren’t at, but these girls have worked really hard to improve the program to where it is today.”

On Saturday, the Lipscomb senior class has the chance to win the program’s third A-Sun title in four years and become the conference’s first back-to-back tournament winners since UCF claimed three-straight from 2001-2003, but not only that they can cement their legacy as the best class in program history.

“The impact that our five seniors have had on the program is immeasurable, it really is. I think back to recruiting those two girls and to where the program is now and it’s just amazing how far they have taken us.”

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