KENNESAW, Ga. (LipscombSports.com) – It was payback time for the Lipscomb volleyball team on National Bison Day. After losing its seventh-straight match to Kennesaw State last month, the purple and gold roared back with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-23, 25-13) dominating sweep of the Owls Saturday night at the KSU Convocation Center.
"Great road win tonight," Lipscomb head coach Brandon Rosenthal said. "Conference road wins are never to be joked about or undervalued. This is one that comes at a great time for us after losing a couple of tough matches, because momentum can swing pretty quickly."
The Bisons ended two other streaks in the decision. They had lost three consecutive matches on the road against the Owls, and Kennesaw State had won seven straight at home. Their only loss inside the Convocation Center came on September 13 against Samford.
"After we played them earlier this year, we felt we were in a great spot," Rosenthal said. "We didn't mention anything about the streak to the team, because we know any of those matches could have gone the other way. Four of the previous seven losses had come in five sets.
"The pregame message tonight was simple. I encouraged the girls to find it within themselves to do anything they can to help this team on this night. I thought they responded."
Megan Kuper hit a season-high .619 with 14 kills to lead Lipscomb's offense, while only committing one error on 21 swings. She also added four blocks, four digs and a pair of aces from the service line.
"I thought Kuper was again really solid tonight," Rosenthal said. "When she is playing at her best, it's when her defensive effort is at another level. There were three or four plays tonight where we saw that tonight and it spearheaded her attacking."
Garrett Joiner and Lauren Myrick continued their solid play on the outside to help open things up for Kuper. The duo combined for 12 kills and three blocks.
Lipscomb (12-11, 8-4 ASUN) set the tone early, racing out to a 10-6 lead over the Owls (16-8, 9-3) behind kills from five different Bisons. From there, the purple and gold staved off multiple KSU runs to hold the lead the rest of the way. Kuper logged seven of her 14 kills in the frame, including bookend swings on the set-clinching 5-0 run after KSU had gotten within a single tally. Lipscomb hit .316 in the stanza with 15 kills and only three errors.
The second set was a much closer affair at the onset as the two teams traded points to an 11-11 tie. It was then that the Owls struck with four-straight points to take their biggest lead of the night at 15-11. Lipscomb took advantage of three KSU errors to trim the deficit, before Garrett Joiner pulled the match back even at 20-20 with a pair of kills. The Owls managed to grab a 23-20 lead, but following a timeout from Rosenthal, the Bisons closed on another 5-0 run with two kills from Kuper to go into the break leading two sets to none.
The third and final set saw Lipscomb lead from the very first point. The Bisons raced out to a 10-5 lead on kill from Maddie Phillips, before the Owls tried to mount a run with three straight points. From there, Lipscomb outscored the Owls 14-4 the rest of the way to put the final nail in sweep. The Bisons hit .400 in the set with only one error in 20 attacks.
"This team has been a special group," Rosenthal said. "Momentum can swing its ugly head pretty quickly, so it's nice to see us get on the plus side of it. The hardest part now is we have to reengage and get back to work on Monday."
- Lipscomb hit .270 in the match, compared to a season-low .064 for Kennesaw State. It was also the third-lowest total for a Bisons opponent this season (UNA, -.032 and .054).
- The Bisons out blocked the Owls 9-5, after not having a single block in the first set. Six came in the second frame.
- Kuper has now registered double-digit kills in five consecutive matches. The 14 was her third-highest total this season.
- Alyssa Zwolensky led the Bisons with 18 digs from the back row. She has recorded 10+ digs in all but one ASUN Conference match this season.
- Sami Rubal finished the night with five kills, four blocks and three digs. It's the fourth-straight match where she either led or tied for the team lead in blocks.
- The win halts a 7-match losing streak to the Owls, and a 3-match losing skid on the road at Kennesaw. The last win came on Oct. 21, 2016 with a 3-0 victory.
- It marks the seventh sweep of the season for the Bisons, all coming in ASUN play.
The Bisons return to Nashville next weekend for their final two matches of the season in Allen Arena. They will host NJIT at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, before welcoming FGCU on Sunday at 2.
"It's a tight race as we are coming down the stretch here with four matches to go," Rosenthal said. "This next weekend is a great time for us to recognize and celebrate our three seniors and all that they have done for this program. They have put in countless hours to help better this program, and I can't wait to recognize them in front of the Lipscomb fans."
ABOUT THE ASUN
The ASUN Conference is an NCAA Division I league with nine member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The ASUN meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement through a true balance between student and athlete. Six ASUN schools reside in Nielsen Top 50 national media markets, and all nine are in top 80 markets. The ASUN includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Liberty University, Lipscomb University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University of North Alabama, University of North Florida and Stetson University. Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., joins the ASUN for the 2020-21 academic year.