After spotting Belmont wins in the first two sets by scores of 25-12 and 25-21, the Lady Bisons came back to win set three 25-16 and set four 27-25. In set five Belmont prevailed winning 15-11.
“It wasn’t our best played match,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “Set one obviously speaks for itself. In set two I thought we were still a little short. I told the players we lost by four and we weren’t playing our best.
“Sets three and four were just gutsy performances. What it came down to in set five was execution. We tried to do a little too much.”
The 3-2 loss at the Curb Center ended a two-game winning streak for the Lady Bisons over Belmont. The Lady Bisons are second in the Atlantic Sun Conference with a 12-3 record. Belmont is close behind in third at 11-4.
“It was a good lesson,” said Rosenthal. “We have to play within our system. We have to play with all 11 players. We can’t just say it is one person.
“We had beaten them 3-0 at our place this season and we had beat them in the tournament. Belmont wanted it badly. We played a hard-fought match and came up a little short.”
Rosenthal admitted he has never had a team so willing to give everything they have in a match regardless of the score. He also credited his assistant coaches, Ann Mullins and Samantha Sullivan, with providing important insights on the match.
“I don’t know if I have ever had a team like this, a team that is willing to lay it out on the line,” said Rosenthal. “We talked between sets two and three and said `whatever happens, happens’.
“I’m really proud of them. These players showed their character. We have been here before, but obviously you don’t want to be down 0-2. But we were a team that was able to come back from that in somebody else’s home.”
Middle blocker Alex Kelly once again set the pace for the Lady Bosons with 18 kills and 12 digs. She also had a .354 hitting percentage, two service aces and three blocked shots.
Middle blocker Amy Trykowski finished with 11 kills and a .455 hitting percentage.
Setter Jake Pease made 34 assists and added 14 digs and two kills.
Libero Jessica Turner was credited with 11 digs.
Cat Mundy led the Belmont attack with a match-high 25 kills. She also had 10 digs, a .386 hitting percentage and one service ace.
Kayla Albritton also posted a double-double with 12 kills and 12 digs.
Jenny Gray made 10 kills and Channing Salava added 12 digs.
The Lady Bisons were the first team to qualify this season for a berth in the A-Sun Tournament. Rosenthal doesn’t think they are satisfied with where they are right now in the standings.
“I don’t think we are satisfied with what we have done so far,” said Rosenthal. “We just didn’t execute down the stretch. But, even with that, it was a good match.
“Hats off to Belmont. They played a great match. In the end they beat us with a little bit more defense. We worked all during the match to get back even with them in digs and we were after four sets. But in the end they outplayed us by a couple of digs and in a 15-point set a couple of extra digs is all it takes.”
The Lady Bisons are back home at Allen Arena Saturday to face Campbell at 3 p.m.