_ Woody Allen
DAYTON, Ohio _ The Lipscomb Lady Bisons missed their best opportunity in three trips to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Friday night at the Frericks Center here on the campus of the University of Dayton the Lady Bisons fell 3-1 in the first round to Ohio State.
“It is really hard to let this one get away from us, and that is really what it did,” coach Brandon Rosenthal said. “We didn’t execute coming down the stretch.
“We kind of got away from our game plan. It’s hard to not get into a rhythm in the first two sets and then in set three and three quarters of the way through set four you have that rhythm and you can’t finish. Some of that was Ohio State. The next level is being able to execute all the way through.”
The Lady Bisons lost set one 25-22, but made a strong rally at the end. Trailing 24-19 they scored the next three points but could not sustain the comeback.
In set two the Lady Bisons could not maintain the momentum from the first set, losing 25-8.
“I was very upset after set two,” Rosenthal said. “In set two we gave up. Win or lose we are not going to give up. I was proud of our girls coming out in three and four and taking it to them. I thought we had great opportunities.”
Despite losing the first two sets senior Stefine “Jake” Pease believed the Lady Bisons could launch a comeback like they did against ETSU in the Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship.
“We talked a lot about not giving up,” Pease said. “A team wins with three sets not two.
“We wanted to go out there and show what we could do. We wanted to play our brand of volleyball which means never letting up when the other team thinks it is going to get the point. It’s about bodies on the floor. It is hard to explain. It is just what we do.”
Set three was a different story. The Lady Bisons jumped out to a 3-1 lead and never trailed on the way to a 25-22 win. It was the first time the Lady Bisons had won a set in an NCAA match.
“In between sets two and three we obviously talked about some things that we needed to focus on,” Rosenthal said. “I thought the energy of the girls was a lot better. They understood they had to be more aggressive.”
The Lady Bisons took the lead at 7-6 in set four and maintained control until Ohio State edged ahead 21-20 and fought off the Lady Bisons in the stretch run for a 25-23 win.
“There was a laundry list of errors in set four,” Rosenthal said. “There were a couple of mental errors down the stretch. But it was not just one play. I think all our girls had opportunities.”
A pair of seniors led the Lady Bisons in kills with middle blocker Alex Kelly and outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer each with 14, a match high.
Pease had 11 digs to lead the team. Junior middle blocker Katie Rose and freshman libero Stephanie Rex added 10 apiece.
“At times, unfortunately, what is thought about is Jake and Alex doing it by themselves,” Rosenthal said. “We got tremendous play out of Meghan. Kaycee Green did a nice job. I thought Stephanie Rex had a tremendous match with some really timely digs in sets three and four.”
The Lady Bisons ended the season with a 24-7 record. Ohio State advances to the second round to play Dayton, a 3-0 winner over Butler.
“I have a proud feeling mixed with a little disappointment,” Rosenthal said. “We weren’t here to play. We were here to win. I hate to call it a learning experience, but we will learn from it.”
“This will be another chapter in this journey. We have asked our girls to come and be a part of this journey. It has been a lot of fun for me. I am proud to be the head coach.”
Rosenthal gave a special thanks to seniors Kelly, Pease, Hinemeyer, Elly Kaiser and Tory Ashcraft.
“There is such a difference in being a team versus a program and what we have strived to build is a program,” Rosenthal said. “We know when we bring in talented players that at some point their days are going to be over.
“I can’t think the seniors enough for what they have done, some for two years, some for three and some for four. It has been a whirlwind of emotions.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.