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Rosenthal gets 100th career win; Lady Bisons extend streak
Erin Pierce
Erin Pierce

Friday, October 09, 2009

If there is a sound track to real life, then the Bill Withers' hit “Lean on Me” would have to be the background music for the Lady Bisons volleyball team.

Brandon Rosenthal, in his seventh year as head coach, won his 100th match Friday night as the Lady Bisons swept USC Upstate 3-0 with set scores of 25-13, 25-18 and 25-13. The win was the 12th straight for the Lady Bisons who closed out the first round of the Atlantic Sun round robin with a perfect 10-0 record.

It may be an honor for Rosenthal, but he doesn't view it as an individual achievement. He has leaned on many people to get to this goal.

“To be honest with you there was time when 100 wins seemed a long way away,” said Rosenthal. “My first ever match was in East Carolina in a tournament. We beat Radford in five sets. I had no idea what I was doing.”

Rosenthal has a photo of his reaction to the first win hanging in his office. In the photo is former Lipscomb volleyball player Kristin Peck, who now serves as the Lady Bisons softball coach. Peck was also present for the 100th win, sitting in the stands as a fan.

“I told our players in the dressing room that reaching 100 is an accomplishment in anything,” said Rosenthal. “I think I have surrounded myself with really good people from players to support staff.

“Everybody could have gone the other way in the first couple of years, but everybody bought into what we were trying to do,” said Rosenthal.

One of the players who was a big part of helping the team improve was Samantha Sullivan, who is serving her second season as an assistant coach.

“It was neat having Sam here,” said Rosenthal. “She is a big part of this.

“I told my best friend, and my brother, that I had 99 wins. But I didn’t tell many people. I didn’t even tell my wife, Kate. I’m glad we got it here at a home match.”

The wins are an efficient way of measuring success, but Rosenthal also takes a more philosophical approach to winning.

“A hundred wins is great, but more than that it is a matter of where we have come from and where we are now in all facets from our play on the court, what we do in the classroom and what we do as representatives of the university,” said Rosenthal. “Obviously, things are going well right now. The buzz is there. It is a lot of fun.

“We have been talking about living in the moment and that is one of the messaged behind the song, “Lean on Me”. That song is what it is all about, especially college athletics.”

Withers spoke to the University of Southern California football team about the song. Rosenthal saw a clip on YouTube and also on ESPN Sports Center. “Lean on Me” has become such an important part of the preparations for the Lady Bisons.

“The girls have really bought into it,” said Rosenthal. “They sing it on the road.

“I spoke at Lipscomb High School the other day and I sang the song to them as I talked about living in the moment and enjoying what you have. Our players heard about me singing and I did a second tour in our locker room. To me that is what it is about, that camaraderie and the family feel.”

Freshman outside hitter Kaycee Green led the Lady Bisons with a match-high 12 kills. She also posted a .550 hitting percentage.

Junior middle hitter Alex Kelly recorded her 13th double-double of the season with 12 kills and 11 digs, which tied for the match high. Kelly also posted a .455 hitting percentage and made five blocks.

Senior opposite Erin Pierce finished with 12 kills while posting a team season high .692 hitting percentage.

Sophomore libero Katie Rose made 11 digs.

“The ball was very well distributed throughout the match,” said Rosenthal. “Our players played under control. At times we were everywhere the ball was.

“Upstate’s coach said afterward that we just don’t make many mistakes. We are playing consistent volleyball and that, more than anything, goes unnoticed by the stats. Everyone got in the game for us and everyone played really well.”

Celebrating might last through the weekend, but the second round of the round robin begins at Allen Arena Tuesday night at 6:30 with Belmont visiting for the second round of the volleyball version of the “Battle of the Boulevard”.

“These girls still think they have something to prove,” said Rosenthal. “Winning this match was great and it is awesome to go 10-0 in the conference, but Monday they will go back to work. We have to keep pushing.”

The Lady Bisons, 15-3, 10-0, swept Belmont 3-0 at the Curb Center to start the A-Sun portion of the season. Rosenthal expects a different team this time around.

“Our players will be ready,” said Rosenthal. “We are not going to be taking anything for granted. We have an even bigger target on our backs.

“Belmont has done some great things over the years and the best thing they do is make adjustments. In the latter half of the season they get their momentum going every year. I am expecting a battle.”