The Lipscomb volleyball team has been selected by the Atlantic Sun coaches as the No. 1 team in the 2014 preseason poll.
Three Lady Bisons are on the Preseason All-Conference team. Jewell Dobson was tabbed to be A-Sun Player of the Year and Bri McCombs was voted preseason A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year. Lauren Ford rounded out the trio with a spot on the All-Conference team.
The Lady Bisons received six of eight first place votes. Jacksonville, the A-Sun Tournament Champion in 2013, got two first place votes and is ranked second.
“Everybody is going to be looking for us,” Lipscomb coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “More than anything it means that this program continues to march along the way we have the past eight years being either No. 1 or No. 2 in preseason.
“That is fun for me. It is a mark of what the staff continues to do and the players continuing to buy into what we do. If you ask the players there is definitely some sort of excitement, but that is not their goal. They are so focused on the end game and the end goal that this is not going to resonate that much for them.”
Rosenthal is honored his team has been recognized, but he is paying the most attention to how his team is going to end the season.
“It is a nice gesture…a nice feeling,” Rosenthal said. “But I don’t know if it helps any of us deal with the loss we had last year (in the finals of the A-Sun Tournament).
“You can look at it a couple of ways. Being picked first means that everyone is going to be gunning for you. But being picked first is also an honor, a very short memory honor. Our girls expect to be at the top not only in preseason but in the postseason.”
The remaining team rankings are FGCU (third), Northern Kentucky (fourth), North Florida (fifth), Stetson and Kennesaw State (tied for sixth) and USC Upstate (eighth).
“We have two pretty big reminders that just showing up isn’t good enough,” Rosenthal said in reference to the failure of the team to win the A-Sun Tournament the past two years. “Right now, the word is `focus’ not only in practice but on what is ahead.
“We are spending every bit of energy and time embracing that process. We plan to live up to that No. 1 pick.”
Dobson, the 2013 A-Sun Player of the Year, was selected by the coaches to repeat for the honor. Dobson, a senior middle blocker from Shepherdsville, Kentucky; also was the only unanimous selection on the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference Team.
“After the year Jewell had, I don’t want to say that this was expected, but I think she is one of the top middles in the country,” Rosenthal said. “I mean that.
McCombs, the 2013 A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year, was also picked to repeat her honor. McCombs, a junior libero from Franklin, Tennessee; was also named to the All-Conference Preseason Team.
“Bri is working on becoming a more complete player,” Rosenthal said. “A lot of it is on the court but a lot of it is off the court in terms of leadership and how you carry yourself.”
Ford is an outside hitter from Lenexa, Kansas. Both Ford and Dobson surpassed 1,000 kills for their college careers last season.
“It’s nice,” Rosenthal said. “These girls have earned it. We have two seniors and a junior who have proven what they are all about.
“It’s great to have that representation. It is well-deserved.”
Preseason awards are usually based on the performances from the season before.
“Our players understand what a preseason award means,” Rosenthal said. “All three of them understand what they did last year is just that. They are looking for more this season. Jewell and Lauren want to go out the way they came in...on top.”
Rosenthal also stresses that individual awards are really team awards.
“We talk about this all the time,” Rosenthal said. “The only way those girls get recognized is by the play of everybody else.”