Tuesday night at Allen Arena the Lady Bisons played one of their closest and grittiest matches of the season, beating Tennessee-Martin 3-2. The Lady Bisons won set one 26-24, lost set two 25-23, won set three 27-25, lost set four 25-21 and then prevailed 15-12 in set five.
The Lady Bisons are 4-3 this season in five-set matches.
“Look at the scores,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “Every set was the same thing.
“Our players did show a lot of grit to fight back like that. Obviously, I wasn’t pleased with the performance from a technical standpoint, but they showed a lot of guts. We challenged them throughout the match to show that, but unfortunately we found ways to show it very late in the sets which is very tough to do.”
Most of the sets were the same. In set one the Lady Bisons were down 23-20 but rallied for the win on kills by opposite Erin Pierce and middle blocker Alex Kelly.
In set two the Lady Bisons gave up the lead early (7-6) and never were able to regain it.
Set three was the most dramatic comeback for the Lady Bisons. Down 21-14 they chipped away, but faced a 24-18 deficit. Jake Pease served for the Lady Bisons who put together seven unanswered points for a 25-24 edge. Tennessee-Martin tied at 25-25, but the Lady Bisons won the set on a service error and an attack error by Tennessee-Martin.
In set four Tennessee-Martin jumped out to an 8-2 lead. The Lady Bisons were not able to overcome the deficit.
Set five was a fight to the end with the Lady Bisons taking a 12-10 lead and control of the set on kills by Katie Rose and Kelly.
“The bad from this match is that we never got in a rhythm,” said Rosenthal. “When we did we would hit a net or miss a serve.
“We had 30 hitting errors. That is not great, but it is not terrible in a five-set match. It was the timing of it.”
Kelly led the way offensively for the Lady Bisons with a match-high 21 kills. She ran her string of double-double matches to five with 21 digs. “Alex fought through it,” said Rosenthal. “This was a great example of the player she can be in that it didn’t all come easy for her. We have talked with her about never letting up.”
Also in double figures in kills was Pierce with 19, a season-and-career-high, and a .318 hitting percentage. Outside hitter Katie Rose made with 12 kills and middle blocker Amy Trykowski with 11.
Libero Jessica Turner made 19 digs, her 10th straight match with double figures in digs.
Also in double figures in digs was outside hitter Katie Bradley.
Two players who didn’t show up at the top of the stats, but contributed heavily to the win were opposite Kaley Mohr and setter Jenny Brekke.
“Kaley and Jenny really went unnoticed,” said Rosenthal. “They both showed us a lot. Coming in for one point, but at a certain point in a set is tough. When we needed them they really stepped up to the plate.
“Jenny is a freshman. It was different for her than Kaley because she has been in matches under pressure before.”
Breanne Carey posted a double-double with 20 kills and 13 digs for Tennessee-Martin. Taylor Noland added 19 kills.
Jennifer Roberts made a match-high 29 digs. Christen Clements was credited with 15. Emily Steinbeck added 13.
“As a whole we didn’t defend that well,” said Rosenthal. “It was one of those nights when things weren’t going right. A lot of times it is not how well you play defense, but when you play defense.”
The Lady Bisons are 10-7 overall, 7-1 in the Atlantic Sun. Tennessee-Martin is 4-15, 2-4 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Rosenthal had praise for Darrin McClure in his first year as coach for Tennessee-Martin.
“Darrin has done an awesome job,” said Rosenthal. “By no means did we overlook them. We knew they were the type of team that can really stretch another team out. Tennessee-Martin played extremely well against us.”
The Lady Bisons play their next five matches on the road.