Lipscomb Set To Take On Texas A&M in NCAA Opener

Thursday, December 01, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – For the third straight year and fourth time in five years, the Lipscomb volleyball team hits the court for the first round of the 2011 NCAA tournament. The Lady Bisons are set to meet Texas A&M, the No. 16 overall seed in the tournament at Reed Arena on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m.

Lipscomb (20-10) is looking for its first win in the NCAA tournament having fallen short it in its three previous tries against some stiff competition all in the state of Ohio. The Lady Bisons traveled to Dayton in 2007 and 2009 and made the trek last season to Columbus for the 2010 event.

“These girls are more than ready and it’s just a lot of fun being around them,” said Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal. “Bottom line, I think this team is ready to go and we’re excited. I think they’re going to come out with a lot of enthusiasm tomorrow and play their brand of volleyball and for me, that’s all I could really ask. It’s neat to be back in this situation and I think these girls are ready to go.”

Taking on the Aggies for the first time in school history, Lipscomb is led by senior middle blocker Katie Rose, the 2011 Atlantic Sun Conference co-Player of the Year, who leads the team with a .344 hitting percentage. The Lexington, Ky., native also excels defensively having collected her 1,000th career dig earlier this season.

“I thought practice was tremendous,” said Rosenthal. “I thought we did a really nice job of executing some of the things we talked about before practice. Our defense was really good. Getting into a new arena, a big arena, I always wonder how that’s going to affect us but more so than ever this year’s team I realize that less is more as far as my involvement and trying to figure it all out.”

The top hitting team in the A-Sun, Lipscomb ranks 28th nationally with a .255 team hitting percentage and ranks 23rd in the nation in kills per set with a 14.10 average.

The opponent: Texas A&M earned the right to host the first two rounds of the NCAA tourney after a 22-7 season overall and 11-5 in the Big 12 conference finishing second in a league that placed seven teams in the field of 64. The Aggies are making their 19th appearance in the NCAA tournament and are 14-0 in College Station in the NCAA postseason.

“Texas A&M is one of these teams, especially over the last couple of weeks that has played extremely well,” said Rosenthal. “ It’s not anything that we haven’t seen before, especially this year. We feel comfortable, really comfortable with the level. I think the biggest thing for us is going out and playing our style of volleyball.

“They’ve got some tremendous attackers. One in Kelsey Black, who is probably one of the nation’s most dynamic outside hitters and their setter does a tremendous job of not only setting the ball but also being as offensive as she is. “

All-Big 12 senior Kelsey Black leads the way for A&M averaging team highs of 3.27 kills and 3.82 points per set. She was joined by junior middle blocker Lindsey Miller hitting .337 and averaging a team-best 1.14 blocks per set, and junior right-side hitter Alisia Kastmo, who is averaging 2.74 kills and 3.22 points per set.

In her 19th season at Texas A&M, Laurie Corbelli is the dean of the Aggie coaches as the longest tenured coach on the A&M staff. Corbelli is just two wins from 500 career victories and 400 wins at Texas A&M.

The common opponents this season between Lipscomb and Texas A&M are Xavier, who handed both the Lady Bisons and Agggies losses and Portland, who both teams defeated. Xavier beat Lipscomb 3-1 on two occasions and handed Texas A&M an early season tournament loss in September while Lipscomb beat Portland 3-2 in the “Golden Dome Invitational” and the Aggies won 3-1 in the “Nike Invitational”.

“It will be a great environment,” said Rosenthal. “I would imagine that Texas A&M is going to bring out a great crowd. It’s an awesome arena and there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a battle. “

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