Perhaps Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” might have been an equally appropriate choice as the Lady Bisons have struggled to find it despite a 25-game winning streak, a 22-0 Atlantic Sun Conference record and a rating of 34th in the NCAA RPI. The Lady Bisons are 28-3 overall.
Despite all of those accolades, the Lady Bisons will face No. 9-seeded California (18-10, 11-7 in the Pac-10) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday at 5 p.m. CST. First round games in the region are scheduled to be played at Ohio State’s St. John’s Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Second round games will be played Saturday. Ohio State and Cincinnati round out the bracket.
“We feel like we were disrespected,” said junior middle hitter and co-captain Alex Kelly. “Everyone had fake smiles, but everyone on the team knows we were disrespected. We have to prove that we belong. Whether we win or lose they are going to know we are good team.”
A crowd filled Shamblin Theater in the Bennett Campus Center Sunday afternoon for the NCAA Selection Show televised by ESPN News.
“Cal is a great team from what I know from talking to other people about them,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “The Pac-10 is the best conference in volleyball.
“It is good in one sense because I want us to go up against the best. And I think this is extra motivation from this. We are not just happy to be in the tournament. We want to advance. I’m excited to see what this extra motivation does for us.”
This is the second time the Lady Bisons have earned an NCAA Tournament bid. In 2007 they were also sent to Ohio for the first round where they lost to Dayton on its home court. This will mark the first time the Lady Bisons have played a Pac-10 school. This is the eighth straight NCAA trip for California which finished fourth in the Pac-10 this season.
Lipscomb junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease, also a co-captain, was not surprised that the Lady Bisons were somewhat under-rated by the selection committee.
“We can’t change it,” said Pease. “We have to go about our business.
“We have kind of gotten used to people not believing in what we are doing and who we are. I think the most important thing is that we believe in who we are. We believe we can do anything together as a team.”
Rosenthal thought that the team’s accomplishments had helped them earn the right not to play one of the top seeded teams. When the Lady Bisons played in the tournament the first time Dayton was the No. 15 seed.
“I think that what we have done should have given us the opportunity not to play one of the top ranked teams,” said Rosenthal. “It really doesn’t matter. Once you get into the tournament you are going to have to play good teams.
“We’ll be ready. That is the cool thing about this team. If there is any team that needs to go up against a Pac-10 school it is our team. Nothing has been handed to us all year.”