“There is a sense of a confidence within our players,” Lady Bisons’ coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “And with that confidence there is a bit of calmness about them.
“It is probably more paranoia on my part and more calmness on their part. It is one of those things where we work so hard. My job is to get the players to understand how important this one match is, whichever match it is.”
The wins have been accumulating in the Atlantic Sun Conference again this season for the Lady Bisons. They have won 32 straight regular season conference matches dating back to the 2008 season. Heading into this week they are ranked second nationally behind Hawaii with 36.
The Lady Bisons have won their last 25 matches at Allen Arena, but this weekend they put their 7-0 conference record on the line with visits to Florida Gulf Coast Friday night and Stetson Saturday.
“We have our priorities in check,” Rosenthal said. “We are going to work hard in practice. And then we are going to throw it all out there in the match. If you beat us, you beat us. But we are going to know we left it all out there.
“It all starts with our leaders. It is hard for me to think that Jake Pease or Alex Kelly is going to let someone push either one of them around. We haven’t seen it yet and I don’t expect to ever see it.”
The Lady Bisons played Florida Gulf Coast Sept. 26 at Allen Arena and swept the match 3-0 in a game that counted in the overall records for both teams, but not the conference standings.
The Lady Bisons are 18-6 overall. Florida Gulf Coast is 5-16, 2-5 in the conference.
“Florida Gulf Coast is the first team we face,” Rosenthal said. “They are still fighting for a berth in the tournament so it is going to be different. We are not going to take them lightly.
“It has been awhile since we played them, but there is a familiarity. Playing Florida Gulf Coast at its place on a Friday night is tough. It is a team that has been very good in its own gym.”
The Lady Bisons don’t think about losing. They do spend a lot of time thinking about how to win.
“For me it is my job to prepare the team,” Rosenthal said. “There is some paranoia leading up to a match.
“We know what is at stake. We know who we are playing. We know the other team’s tendencies.”
But despite all of that preparation there is a fear of the unknown that grips the team until the ball is finally put in play in the first set.
“Before that first point is played there is the question of what are we getting into,” Rosenthal said. “There is the question of what are we going to see today on their side and on our side.
“After the first couple of points we settle in and realize that what we prepared for is exactly what we should be doing. I know this is oversimplifying it but it is a matter of preparing and executing.”
The big challenge for most of the opponents of the Lady Bisons is trying to figure out who to stop.
“There are a lot of match-up problems if we go out and execute the way we know how,” Rosenthal said. “There is Jake Pease, the best setter in the conference. Then there is Alex Kelly, arguably the best player in the conference.
“You keep going down the line and there is Meghan Hinemeyer who is not too shabby; Kaycee Green, again not too shabby; Katie Rose, who is playing extremely well; and Char Ursell who has really turned it up. And we have people on the back row who are doing a nice job.”
Nationally in NCAA Division I Pease is ranked 14th overall in assists per set with 11.46. Kelly is 16th in points with 6.97 per set and 22nd in kills with 4.23 per set. Hinemeyer is 35th in service aces per set with 0.4.
As team the Lady Bisons are 25th in kills per set with 14.05. They are 29th in aces per set with 1.61 and 30th in assists per set with 13.06. They are 32nd in hitting percentage with a .257.
The Lady Bisons, who have already clinched a berth in the A-Sun Tournament, will close out the regular season at home Nov. 9 against Belmont in the “Battle of the Boulevard”.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.