Friday night in Johnson City the Lady Bisons played their first five-set match of the season, beating ETSU 3-2 at the Brooks Gym. The Lady Bisons won set one 25-15, lost set two 25-20, won set three 25-12 and then lost set four 25-14. In set five the score was tied 10-10 before the Lady Bisons closed out the match with a 5-1 run.
It was the eighth straight A-Sun match win and the ninth straight match win overall. Both are new program records.
“In the second set we got a little out of rhythm and probably panicked a little too much,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal. “We found a way to come out and win three. In set four we never could get it going.
“I felt like our defensive effort wasn’t there as team in both sets two and four. In sets one, three and five we played great defense. We found ways to make plays in those sets and we were disciplined. In sets two and four we lost our focus and that is hard for me to say as a coach.”
After playing the match the Lady Bisons got on their bus for the approximately five-hour trip to Campbell. The Camels entered Friday night’s match with Belmont with a five-match winning streak. However, they lost 3-1 to Belmont.
The match between the Lady Bisons and Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C., has been billed as the A-Sun “Match of the Week”. Game time is 1 p.m. Saturday. The Lady Bisons swept Campbell in conference play last season.
Rosenthal has decided the best way to deal with the rigors of the trip is to not discuss it with his team. They have a bus that is equipped for sleeping, but the players will have to be awakened on arrival at their hotel sometime in the early morning hours Saturday.
“We will get to the hotel and let them get as much sleep as possible,” said Rosenthal. “We can’t make a big deal out of it. Match time is match time and we have to answer the bell.
“Our players are in good shape. We do as much as possible to keep them loose and rested. We knew at the start of the season that this was going to be a tough, tough road trip.”
The Lady Bisons ended their consecutive sets streak at 25. While Rosenthal would like to win every match by a score of 3-0 he saw where the sets streak might be becoming too much of a concern for his players.
“I told them between sets two and three that NCAA bids are not given out to teams based on how many sets they have won,” said Rosenthal. “You have to win matches.
“The set streak was kind of taking on a life of its own. It was becoming the bigger focus.”
Junior middle hitter Alex Kelly had 16 kills and 19 digs, both match highs. The 19 digs mark the highest total for Kelly this season.
Also in double figures was senior opposite Erin Pierce with 10 kills and 11 digs. She has 20 total attacks with no errors for a .500 hitting percentage. She also added three service aces.
Freshman outside hitter Kaycee Green made 13 kills and junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer added 12.
Junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease made 47 assists and also had 13 digs. She also was credited with three service aces.
“We played O.K, in spots,” said Rosenthal. “ETSU played well and deserves a lot of credit. The road is a rough place to play.
“We are going to continue to get everybody’s best efforts. We can’t let up. We have to dictate the match. In sets two and four ETSU dictated the match.”
The Lady Bisons remain undefeated at 8-0 in the conference and are 12-3 overall this season. The Lady Bisons 8-0 start ties their A-Sun start of eight wins in a row set last season.
“I am proud of our players,” said Rosenthal. “They found a way to win. A lot of the reasons we didn’t play well was that ETSU did some things that took us out of our game.
“It took a total team effort. I credit Jake, Alex and Erin, our team captains. Towards the end of the match those three really played well. It was good to be tested.”
Campbell is 11-6, 5-2 in the conference.
“We have to regroup and be ready to go,” said Rosenthal. “I’m sure Campbell is going to be hungry.”