The Lady Bisons beat host South Carolina 3-0 by set scores of 25-18, 25-21 and 25-21 Saturday morning in the Gamecock Invitational. It marked the first time the Lady Bisons have beaten a team from the Southeastern Conference.
“We had beaten Southeastern Conference teams in the spring, but that is different than the fall,” Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “I think this is a signature win for us. Any time you go up against a conference that is in your region and is well-respected and you beat one of its teams is a big win.”
It was the sixth match sweep in a row for the Lady Bisons who won the tournament championship.
“I thought our girls played exceptional,” Rosenthal said. “Everyone looks at the stat leaders, but I thought everybody played well. Amanda Rhein came in and served tough. Kelsey Neumann came in and served tuff and stopped some balls. Caitlin Dotson played a tremendous game.”
Middle blocker Alex Kelly was named the tournament’s most valuable player. Outside hitter Kaycee Green and setter Stefine “Jake” Pease were named to the all-tournament team.
“Alex works harder and harder each day,” Rosenthal said.
Green and Kelly tied for the match high in kills with 13 each.
Green posted a .478 hitting percentage. Kelly had a .344 hitting percentage.
“Kaycee was tremendous,” Rosenthal said. “When we needed an outlet Kaycee really played well. She put a lot of pressure on the other team when they were overplaying Alex.”
Middle blocker Katie Rose also was in double figures in kills with 10. Her hitting percentage was .368. Her performance was even more remarkable considering she left the first set with an injury.
“Katie had an ankle sprain at the end of the first set,” Rosenthal said. “She came back and played an unreal match. She was a warrior.”
Pease controlled the offense on many levels with eight kills and 35 assists. She also posted a match-high .538 hitting percentage.
“When we have the hitters that we do that is going to put pressure on a team,” Rosenthal said. “And Jake forces teams to think about what the setter is doing. She did a tremendous job setting us up. Offensively, she was a difference maker. They really struggled to get a handle on what we she was doing.
“That gives us extra time. Jake is so good at isolating blockers. Something that doesn’t show in the stat sheets is how many times she gets us in position where we are hitting against one blocker instead of two or even three.”
Outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer continues to be a defensive force with a match-high 17 kills, her third match high in that category in the tournament.
“Meghan was unreal defensively,” Rosenthal said. “We talked this week that offensively things are going to come for her. The big thing is she can bring it to the other team on so many other levels. She was an all-tournament performer defensively.”
The win marked the third time this season the Lady Bisons have beaten the host of a tournament. The Lady Bisons are 8-2. South Carolina is 2-7.
“South Carolina is a young team,” Rosenthal said. “They are going to cause some problems in the SEC. As the year goes on they are going to get better and better.”
The Lady Bisons return to Nashville when they visit Belmont at 5 p.m. The match will not count in the Atlantic Sun Conference standings. The two teams will meet in conference play Nov. 9 in the final match of the regular season at Allen Arena.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.