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Friday, September 25, 2009The true story of the Lady Bisons three-set win over the Mercer Bears isn’t found in the usual spot on the score sheet.
Sure, the Lady Bisons won 25-20, 26-24 and 25-15 Friday night at Allen Arena to keep their unbeaten streak alive at 6-0 in the Atlantic Sun Conference and a perfect 18-0 in set wins in a row.
“There wasn’t a whole lot to talk about after the match,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “I think our players knew that they didn’t necessarily play their best game, but they found a way to win.”
But there are numbers more important to understanding how this match was won. In set one there were no lead changes and no ties as the Lady Bisons remained in control. In set two there were 12 ties and five score changes as both teams battled tooth and nail for control. But in game three the Lady Bisons once again were in charge with no lead changes and no ties.
Almost prophetically, the Lady Bisons talked about resilience at Thursday’s practice. Though they have been perfect in the A-Sun they know that more trials like the second set against Mercer will come their way.
“I didn’t think, especially in the second set, that we played very disciplined,” said Rosenthal. “I don’t think we executed any of our game plan.
“We talked about the need to continue to execute. Discipline is one of the hardest parts of the game, but I think that is what kind of sets us apart. And on top of that Mercer did a fantastic job, working hard for every point. It’s not that we weren’t working hard, but Mercer out-worked us in the second set.”
Middle hitter Alex Kelly led with a match-high 16 kills. Opposite Erin Pierce made a team-high 14 digs. Libero Katie Rose added 10.
“When you look at the stats for Amy Trykowski she only had seven assists, but she had five kills and one error for a .571 hitting percentage,” said Rosenthal. “That is pretty efficient.
“It is a total team. Sometimes we are not going to play a very good match, but we have to count on each other.”
In the crucial second set, the final drive for the Lady Bisons was led by Kelly, Trykowski and Meghan Hinemeyer.
“I told them in the second time out of the second set to forget about how many sets we had won,” said Rosenthal. “I told them to go out there and play hard, take care of the ball and see what happens. I thought we did a much better job of just settling down.
“It would be great to go through the whole season without some sort of a challenge, but we have to be realistic. Everyone is playing hard and everyone is fighting for a win. We have been able to take everybody’s best effort and go up a notch.”
The Lady Bisons are 9-3 overall, 6-0 in the A-Sun. Mercer slipped to 3-9, 1-4 in the conference.
“There is this sense that we are going to get everybody’s best,” said Rosenthal. “Mercer did a real nice job in the second set, and late in the first set, of going after us.
“Our scores weren’t that impressive. But while we didn’t necessarily play our best we found a way to come up with key plays at key times.”
Prior to the start of the match setter Stefine “Jake” Pease was honored for reaching more than 3,000 assists, only the second player in the history of the program to reach that goal. Saturday Kelly will be honored for becoming the fourth player in the history of the program to make 1,000 kills.
The Lady Bisons are back at Allen Arena at 2 p.m. Saturday when Kennesaw State, 7-5, 2-3, visits. Friday night Kennesaw State lost 3-2 at Belmont.
“We have to forget about how many sets we have won in a row,” said Rosenthal. “We have to take care of our side of the court and then we will see what happens.
“Kennesaw State is a very athletic team that plays with a lot of emotion. That is really dangerous for us. We can’t get caught up in that. We have to bring our own emotion to the match.”