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Lady Bisons win first A-Sun regular season title
Meghan Hinemeyer
Meghan Hinemeyer

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Lady Bisons swept North Florida 3-0 Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville to clinch their first ever Atlantic Sun regular season title.

The Lady Bisons won 25-15, 25-18 and 25-12. It was the 19th straight match win. It also was the 22nd match win of the season, setting a new program record. It is the seventh straight year that the Lady Bisons have won more matches than the previous season.

“That is the thing I am probably most proud of to do that every year,” said Lady Bisons coach Brandon Rosenthal.

In 2007 the Lady Bisons went to the NCAA Tournament as the A-Sun Tournament Champion.

“We didn’t talk about it until after the match,” said Rosenthal. “This is definitely a goal of ours. It is something we wanted the program to have. But we also understand that this is just one step to our ultimate goal.”

The Lady Bisons remain unbeaten in the A-Sun with a 17-0 worksheet. Jacksonville, in second place, fell to Belmont 3-1 Saturday afternoon for their fourth conference loss with three conference matches left to play.

Rosenthal shared the success of the team with his players, assistant coach Samantha Sullivan and team trainer Regina Hash.

“People congratulate me, but it is really theirs,” said Rosenthal. “They have all worked hard for it day-in and day-out and they deserve to get the credit for it.”

The Lady Bisons took a six-point lead in set one to take control. In set two North Florida held an 18-16 edge prompting the Lady Bisons to have to fight back with a string of points to win. In set three the Lady Bisons jumped out early with an 11-3 advantage.

“In the first and third sets we were in control the whole way,” said Rosenthal. “In the second set they took a two-point lead midway through. I asked our defense to step up.”

Junior outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer led the way for the Lady Bisons in kills with 11. She was the only Lady Bisons player to finish in double figures.

Rosenthal was quick to point out that no one should let the statistics fool them because this match went much deeper than the numbers.

“What jumps off the page is that, `oh, boy we only had one player in double digits in kills,’ “said Rosenthal. “You have to look at the next category and realize that we only had seven attack errors. We were pretty efficient with what we were doing.”

Defensively, the Lady Bisons put in another strong effort. Senior opposite Erin Pierce made a match-high 20 digs. Kelly added 12. Sophomore libero Katie Rose contributed 10.

It was the second time this season that Pierce had finished with 20 or more digs. She had 28 against Jacksonville Sept. 12.

“Defense was the story,” said Rosenthal. “I thought our defense was fantastic.”

Kelly also had three service aces as the Lady Bisons finished with six.

‘The way we served the ball there were a lot of times that we didn’t have to attack,” said Rosenthal.

Four Lady Bisons posted hitting percentages above .300 with Kelly leading at .409. Pierce finished with a .375 followed by freshman outside hitter Kaycee Green with a .353 and junior setter Stefine “Jake” Pease at .308.

“There is so much to this story,” said Rosenthal. “I will take efficiency over a big number of kills any day of the week.”

The Lady Bisons are 22-3 overall. North Florida fell to 10-16, 4-12 in the A-Sun.

The Lady Bisons are back at home Tuesday night at 6:30 for non-conference match with Austin Peay State from the Ohio Valley Conference.