COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- No one really knows whose idea it was. They just know it has worked.
When spring workouts were over for the Lipscomb Lady Bisons volleyball team, eight players were on the roster. Those eight, and again the origin is uncertain, decided to call themselves the "Ochos".
"We were so few in number in the spring that we kind of gave ourselves the identity and it just stuck," senior Katie Rose said. "We were just all over the place.
"When you are playing volleyball it is hard to only have eight people. We couldn't scrimmage each other. We were running all over the place during practice to shag balls and to hit. It was hectic at times but it definitely made us better and a lot closer."
The group of five freshmen that arrived in July was named the "Cincos". Purple T-shirts were made that said "Ocho Cinco" on the back and "85" on the front.
"We were worried that the freshmen wouldn't feel welcome because we were already so close," Rose said. "But once they came in we knew immediately that everything was going to click.
"We all just go along. It was the first time we have had a team that really loves to hang out together on and off of the court."
The general belief of the players and coaches is that the closeness of the team is one of the primary reasons the Lady Bisons are playing host Texas A&M Thursday here at the Reed Arena in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
"Any time you have talented freshmen, and we have five of them, you kind of hold your breath," Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal said. "You know the talent part is there, but you wonder if they are going to be able to pick up everything else and really become comfortable.
"I think that is where the camaraderie of the team has really helped this year. In years past freshmen have been really intimidated."
Jewell Dobson, one of the freshmen, stresses that her transition was easier than she expected.
"All of the girls make it so much easier to have fun on the court," Dobson said. "Coming in as a freshman it can be very scary. I think with every game it has been more fun and more exciting because we have been successful. We all work well together."
Rosenthal points to the "Ocho Cinco" idea as the foundation for the closeness of the team.
"I didn't want two separate groups," Rosenthal said. "I wanted one. We planted this and crossed our fingers. You can see they are so tight."
The freshmen arrived on campus in July and were joined a few weeks later by the upperclassmen.
Freshman Lauren Ford agrees with Dobson that the closeness of the team has made it easier to play at a higher level.
"We all feel really comfortable around each other," Ford said. "We are the best friends we have in college because we get along so well."
Rosenthal understands that the group is close, but he admits they constantly keep him guessing as to how to get them prepared mentally to play a match.
"I learned during the Atlantic Sun Tournament to let them be," Rosenthal said. "We have worked really hard to get to this point.
"We have five freshmen and another new player. We had to learn. A part of me is excited because I have believed in this team from the beginning."
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.