And that match was going to be played on a Friday night.
The Brooks Gym at ETSU is always a tough place to play, but Friday nights can be especially challenging to visiting teams with crowds close to capacity. Last season the Lady Bisons, winners of their last 26 conference regular season games, barely escaped Johnson City with a 3-2 win. In Nashville the Lady Bisons prevailed 3-1.
“I think it is going to be a hard-fought match,” Rosenthal said. “I think it is going to be, quite possibly, a match where we get into trading points. It will be a good test for us regardless of what happens.
“We have to take all of the external things like the atmosphere and the crowd and put those off to the side. We can’t get caught up in the emotions that I think this game is going to bring. We talk about playing big matches and this is it.”
No other A-Sun team won more than one set in a match against the Lady Bisons last season.
“ETSU has played us tough over the last couple of years, “Rosenthal said. “They do a nice job. ETSU wants to beat us.
“Last year they played extremely well. They took us to five sets at their place and four here. I don’t know if it is because match up well with us or that they get up for us. I can’t imagine we are too well-liked there. People are gunning for us and that is part of it.”
The first RPI rankings were released by the NCAA this week. The Lady Bisons, 13-5, 2-0 in the A-Sun; are ranked 102. ETSU, 15-5, 1-0 in the conference; is rated 103rd.
Rosenthal knows that his Lady Bisons can never relax in A-Sun games this season, especially with only one chance to play each conference team.
“We are going about our preparations in our normal way,” Rosenthal said. “I don’t think there is anything special about playing teams only once. We have to go and play our game.
“I think it wears on me more than the girls as we build up to the matches during the week. The girls have a little bit more to do with it than I do. That gives them a better perspective.”
ETSU setter Whitney Cogburn and outside hitter Megan Devine are two of the biggest concerns for the Lady Bisons.
“Whitney has always played well against us,” Rosenthal said. “Their two outsides, Erin Ryan and Megan Devine, do some nice things.
“The middles, Alysa Long and Jamie Stancliff, also play well for them. They have done a really nice job in blocking the ball. They are one of the top teams in the country in blocking so that is a challenge for us.”
The Lady Bisons are led by middle blocker Alex Kelly, tops in the league with 4.25 kills and 4.97 points per set. Setter Stefine “Jake” Pease leads the conference in assists with 11.35 per set.
Saturday the Lady Bisons will travel to Spartanburg, S.C., to face USC Upstate.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.