The pressure of stepping forward, leaping and delivering the clutch kill doesn’t scare Kaycee Green.
Being the lone senior and defacto leader that eight freshmen and sophomores gravitate to, well, that is a different story for Lipscomb’s outside hitter.
“It has been stressful kind of but it is a good stress,” Green said. “It is challenging for me because this is the first time I’ve been by myself in this kind of role. It is encouraging to stay positive and help my other teammates as long as they look up to me.”
With two wins this weekend, they’ll look t her with awe.
Green is already one of the winningest players in program history but she can become the first to reach four NCAA Tournaments. The Bisons aim for their fourth straight conference tournament title and fifth in six years when they host the Atlantic Sun Volleyball Championship, which starts Thursday at Allen Arena.
“It is great. I couldn’t have done it by myself,” Green said. “I’ve had so much help through the years. ... Hopefully I’ll get my fourth one this year and make that legacy keep going.”
Lipscomb (18-11) is the No. 2 seed and plays either East Tennessee State or Mercer at 5 p.m. Friday. The championship match, with an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on the line, is at 3 p.m. on Saturday.
Over the last four years, Lipscomb has won 90 matches. In conference play, the Bisons are an impressive 57-5. They went 32-0 during Green’s first two seasons.
“You’re talking about over four years, she has lost [five] conference matches or the program has,” coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “But the common denominator throughout that is she has been a part of that. While she hasn’t always been the highlighted athlete, she has always been one of those athletes they’ve had to take notice of.”
Standing 6-foot-1, she is hard to miss. When her arms start swinging, she looks even taller.
The Cookeville native possesses a gigantic wingspan that was last measured at 6-foot-3. She has used that length to her advantage, with 393 kills — the third most in the conference — and shares the team-high for blocks (51) with Jewell Dobson.
“I’ve got five inches on her height-wise and we touch the same height,” Rosenthal said. “The crazy part about that is just the angles she is able to hit that other people aren’t just by simply her arms. She covers so much more court too.”
Rosenthal has literally seen Green grow.
He also coached her at the club level when she was 17. That familiarity helped him lure Green away from interested Auburn and Tennessee Tech.
“Lipscomb never really got out of mind,” Green said. “I felt comfortable with Brandon. I felt comfortable with the surroundings. I felt more comfortable at a smaller school. I also knew [former assistant coach Samantha Sullivan]. She was my club coach at one point too. It just all seemed to fit.”
In four years, Green has morphed into a consistent presence for the Bisons. In 2009, she was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. She earned first team honors last year after leading the team with nearly 400 kills.
With a bevy of seniors to look up to during her career, including three conference players of the year, Green wasn’t asked to do everything. But she filled her role. This year is no different.
“Kaycee has always been a little bit behind the scenes the past three years,” Rosenthal said. “This is something she has worked really hard for. I think some of it is the way she is playing and the confidence she is playing with. Ultimately, she has been through all this before so people are looking to her just to see how she reacts to different situations. I think there is no doubt when the chips are on the table she has really stepped up to the plate.”
• A-Sun honors: Green was one of five Lipscomb players to earn all-conference honors.
Green, Dobson, Caitlin Dotson and Lauren Ford were named to the second team. Molly Spitznagle was named to the All-Freshman Team.
Dotson, a junior setter from Louisville, Ky., was an unanimous choice as the Atlantic Sun’s Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The biology major has a 3.84 GPA and highlights the Academic All-Conference team, which also features Ford.