Heading into a trip to Florida this weekend to take on Jacksonville and North Florida in Atlantic Sun matches the Lady Bisons have won 17 straight matches and are 15-0 in conference matches.
For the second week in a row the Lady Bisons are rated 57th nationally in the NCAA Division I RPI ratings.
The big question for coach Brandon Rosenthal is how to keep his team motivated and challenged in the middle of so much success.
The key for the Lady Bisons is that the competition never stops, even in practice. The starters are constantly being challenged by the reserves on a daily basis.
“The other side does a great job of putting a lot of pressure on the starting side,” said Rosenthal. “It would be easy if you had six or seven players who just rolled over the other side. But the other side is giving resistance back.”
Rosenthal credits assistant coach Samantha Sullivan for helping to push the players to a higher level each practice session. “They hear from me, but when they hear it from someone else it makes a difference,” said Rosenthal. “It is kind of like the whole `Rudy’ thing where he said if I don’t do my job you guys aren’t going to get better.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the girls. It is all about the team. They could easily fall apart and say they don’t want to go through another day of practice. But they are always looking for a challenge.”
Rosenthal likes to mix things up and keep them guessing in practice.
“We want to get in a rhythm and find something that is comfortable, but at the same time you don’t want them to become complacent,” said Rosenthal. “We try to keep them guessing and keep them on their toes. We try to keep things loose.”
The Lady Bisons are known for their hard work, but anyone who wanders into Allen Arena during the warm-up portion of the session will be greeted with a variety of music blaring in the background.
“A lot of people come to the arena,” said Rosenthal. “Here we have a team that is supposed to be real focused and a team that works hard. But the first thing they see is the girls having a good time getting ready for practice.
“These girls do work hard. It is kind of one of those things they want to do.”
Rosenthal gains inspiration from many coaches. One of the latest he has studied is Pete Carroll, the head football coach for the University of Southern California.
“His players want to play every day,” said Rosenthal. “They are not afraid to put on the pads and work and have fun. It is the same thing with our team.”
MATCH OF THE WEEK : The Lady Bisons match with Jacksonville Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Swisher Gym has been designated as the A-Sun “Match of the Week”.
Jacksonville, 16-5, 12-2 in the A-Sun, has a 13-match win streak on the line against the Lady Bisons. One way or the other one team’s streak will stop.
The Lady Bisons have a 6-1 series advantage over Jacksonville.
NCAA RANKINGS : The Lady Bisons as a team are ranked third nationally in kills per set with 14.99. Texas A & M leads the category with 15.08.
The Lady Bisons are fourth in assists per set with 13.91. Texas A & M also leads that category with 14.28 per set.
They have moved into 17th place in hitting percentage with a .269. Penn State is first with a .419 percentage. They are 27th in digs per set with 16.8.
Individually, junior middle hitter Alex Kelly is seventh in points per set with 5.23. Siena’s Burgandy McCurty is first with 6.15 points per set.
Junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease is eighth in assists per set with 11.88. Southern California’s Kendall Bateman leads the category with 12.26.
Kelly is rated 14th in kills per set with 4.51. McCurty is first with 5.51.