Coach Brandon Rosenthal wants his team to enjoy the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament championships, the perfect 22-0 conference record and the NCAA Tournament appearance. But he also knows that his players are already looking ahead to the challenges of 2010.
“It’s fun to get the awards and have the dinners,” Rosenthal said. “We have talked many times that it is hard to win a championship and it is even harder to do what they did this year.
“We have talked about the need to enjoy it and about the appreciation factor. They have earned that right.”
While Rosenthal wants them to appreciate the accomplishments, he knows that his players want to do even more next season. “These girls driven,” Rosenthal said. “They have that taste in their mouths and they want to go further.
“We have a group of juniors that will be seniors who won the championship their freshman year, lost in the championship as sophomores and then won it again this year. Probably more so than ever they see this season as an opportunity to leave their lasting mark on this program.”
Rosenthal said that he put all of the accolades behind them only hours after losing in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to California.
“That’s just the way I work,” Rosenthal said. “The future of the program is exciting.
“We have worked so hard to get to this point. We probably exceeded some expectations this season. I don’t want it to end.”
Rosenthal stressed that he and his players have a choice. They can rest on their laurels to work even harder to succeed in 2010.
“We decided we are just going to go after it,” Rosenthal said. “That’s how we got to this point. We want to continue to take it to the next level.”
Not surprisingly, the Lady Bisons took a little time off after the season ended. While there were no formal workouts players could be seen running and working in the weight room on their own.
“From a coaching standpoint it is neat to see that drive,” Rosenthal said. “What they have been doing is totally on their own. It has nothing to do with me.
“We won’t get started until a couple of weeks after we get back for the spring. I will be interested in their development over the spring and what their plans are for the summer.”
The Lady Bisons are still receiving recognition for their accomplishments. Their loss to California did little to affect their final RPI ranking.
They entered the tournament ranked 34th. They are rated 36th in the final RPI.
“We would have liked to have stayed in the top 35,” Rosenthal said. “Sitting at 36 is awesome, but the competitive side of me wanted us to stay in the top 35. We are not that far off in being considered in the top 25 area.”
In the final NCAA rankings the Lady Bisons finished in the top 20 in five categories.
They are fifth in kills per set (14.75), fifth in match won-loss percentage (.875), sixth in assists per set (13.79), 18th in digs per set (17.22) and 19th in hitting percentage (.263).
Junior setter Stefine "Jake" Pease finished 10th in assists per set with 11.8.
Junior middle hitter Alex Kelly ranked 12th in points per set (5.07), 21st in kills per set (4.35) and 38th in hitting percentage (.355).
Senior opposite Erin Pierce was 55th in service aces per set with .38.