The Lady Bisons are participating in the Comcast Lady Vol Classic at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. The Lady Bisons will open the season at 9 a.m. Saturday when they face Western Kentucky from the Sunbelt Conference. At 4 p.m. Saturday the Lady Bisons will play Tennessee Tech from the Ohio Valley Conference. Sunday at 1 p.m. the Lady Bisons will square off against the host Lady Vols from the Southeastern Conference.
The match with Tennessee Tech has been designated as the A-Sun "Match of the Week" by the conference.
Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal, in his seventh season as head coach, doesn’t plan to bring home any moral victories. He thinks his team, the preseason pick to win the Atlantic Sun Conference, can head into this tournament with a legitimate chance to win it all.
“Our program is at the point where we have played bigger name teams really tough,” said Rosenthal. “I think it is time to get over that hump and really make a name for ourselves. We are going into this to win it.
“I think we are expecting more from our players and more from our coaching staff. It is exciting. I’m very interested to see how we are going to react in different situations facing different players. We are trying to focus on our side of the bench.”
The Lady Bisons enter the season with one big question mark _ who will play the libero position? There are two candidates for the job, junior Elly Kaiser and sophomore Katie Rose. Rosenthal stressed that he probably won’t announce his decision until match time.
“Elly played well this past spring and that helps her going into the fall,” said Rosenthal. “She has to play like that day-in and day-out and that becomes a really tough thing.”
Rose is making the transition from outside hitter to libero.
“Katie has a different mindset because she played a different position last year,” said Rosenthal. “She has come into it with the idea of working as hard as she can. She is putting it all out there.
“Both of them are doing a good job. They are pushing each other. They are different in size, the way they play and in their discipline. Each one has different strengths. It is hard to compare them.”
In the past the Lady Bisons have heavily relied on the libero position. Rosenthal rates this team as a one with strong passing skills, which could mean less of a reliance on the libero.
Rosenthal will be counting on junior Stefine “Jake” Pease at the setter spot, junior Alex Kelly as a middle hitter, senior Amy Trykowski at a middle hitter spot and senior opposite Erin Pierce as key starters. Junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer, a transfer from Clemson, is expected to be a big contributor as an outside hitter.
“Meghan has that potential to have a big impact,” said Rosenthal. “She is going from a defensive role back to an offensive-minded role. She has a lot of raw power. She is very savvy on the court. I think she is going to be one of the top outsides in the conference.
“She has made some great strides, probably more this fall than she did in the spring. She played for us in the spring, but now it is for real. She has worked hard this summer. She is ready to go out and play.”
The Lady Bisons won a program record 21 matches last season. The team captains are Pease, Kelly and Pierce.
“It’s our time,” said Rosenthal. “We are going out there and we will hopefully leave it all out on the court.”