“We didn’t want to share anything,” said senior middle blocker Alex Kelly.
When the Lady Bisons put the finishing touches on a 3-1 match win over the Belmont Bruins Tuesday night at Allen Arena this edition of the “Battle of the Boulevard” meant more than just another win.
The victory gave the Lady Bisons a 10-0 conference record, marking the second season they have finished unbeaten in Atlantic Sun games. Last season under the double-round robin format and in the A-Sun Tournament they finished 22-0 in conference matches. It also extended their conference regular season winning streak to 35 games, second only to Hawaii. They are fourth nationally in home wins in a row with 26.
“With all the parity in the conference this season it is tremendous for us to go undefeated,” Rosenthal said. “And we did it in style.
“The single round-robin is tough. A 22-0 record might sound better than a 10-0 record. But the 10-0 was much more pressure-packed than 22-0. Our girls have done some awesome stuff.”
By finishing without a loss it also guaranteed the Lady Bisons sole possession of the regular season championship. With Kennesaw State sitting in second at 8-1 there was a possibility of having to share the title which they had clinched at least a share of last weekend on the road in Florida.
“I credit the girls,” Rosenthal said. “To go undefeated in back-to-back years is really hard to do. It is something that should be noted.
“It is really hard to do day-in and day-out. We have talked about being on an island. Everybody is rooting against us. Everybody wants to see us go down with a loss. Mentally that is hard. We are getting everybody’s `A’ game.”
The Lady Bisons won the first set 25-9, but Belmont wasn’t going to go away that easily. The Lady Bisons won the second set 25-19, but lost set three 25-22. The Lady Bisons sealed the match with a 25-20 win in set four.
“We established the pace and the style of play in the first two sets,” Rosenthal said. “I thought we played really well in the first two sets. In the first set we were ready to go.
“In the third set we lost focus. I felt good at the beginning of the third set, but we let it slip away. We were making the game a lot harder than it was. Credit Belmont because they did a nice job. They are well-coached. They are always going to be there.”
Several of the Lady Bisons were suffering from flu-like symptoms, but those affected played through those problems.
“Our girls were put in a tough spot because of how many of them were ill,” Rosenthal said. “We have warriors on this team.”
Both the Lady Bisons and Belmont have berths in the A-Sun Tournament Nov. 18-20 in Fort Myers, Fla. The Lady Bisons are 21-6 overall. Belmont is 13-14 overall, 7-3 in the conference.
On Sept. 14 the two teams met at the Curb Center in match that counted on the overall records, but not the conference records. The Lady Bisons also won that match 3-1.
It was “Senior Night” so it was only fitting that the seniors would set the pace. Outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer made a match-high 17 kills to go with a .432 hitting percentage and eight digs.
Kelly finished with a double-double, her 13th of the season, with 13 kills, 16 digs, two service aces and a .310 hitting percentage.
Setter Stefine “Jake” Pease posted a match-high .517 hitting percentage. She made five kills and five digs to go with 49 assists.
Junior middle blocker Katie Rose also was in the mix with a match-high and personal season high 18 digs and a .364 hitting percentage.
“Some of the kills she made in the fourth set were just tremendous,” Rosenthal said.
Sophomore outside hitter Kaycee Green made 12 kills.
Kayla Albritton led Belmont with 16 kills. Tara Blood added 10. Jen Myer was credited with 11 digs.
In addition to Pease, Kelly and Hinemeyer the other seniors honored were Elly Kaiser and Tory Ashcraft.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.