Butler, with an enrollment of 3,897, the school is comparable to Lipscomb in size. During the drive to the NCAA title game Butler had won 25 straight games. That caught the attention of coach Brandon Rosenthal and his Lady Bisons who know what is like to be a mid-major team in a sea of bigger schools.
“Obviously, Butler has a more storied history than us,” Rosenthal said. “Here is a small school. They were well-respected in their conference. They played a tough schedule. Everyone thought it would be crazy if they got as far as the Final Four.
“It is all the same stuff we have dealt with. It is a teaching piece for the girls. There are teams out there that have been told the same things we have been told. But they are doing it and going several steps further than we have. Our message to our players is if they can do it, then why can’t us?”
Several players sent texts to Rosenthal after the games. He thinks his team has taken something from Butler’s example.
“It is going to be interesting to see how much it will influence them,” Rosenthal said.
The Lady Bisons have always been known for their hard work on the volleyball court, but in preparation for defending both the Atlantic Sun regular season and -tournament titles Rosenthal has stepped up the work load in all areas of conditioning.
“We have seen the benefits of that in the way the team plays in practice,” Rosenthal said. “You can see the athleticism. They are stronger. They are making quicker moves. They are driving to the ball more.
“They are little things that I’m not sure the average fan would pick up. But when I watch warm-ups I can tell there is a difference.”
Rosenthal is putting the finishing touches on the fall schedule. It is going to be a challenging one in many ways. The Lady Bisons were unbeaten in conference matches last season, a streak that Rosenthal knows all coaches are going to be trying to break.
“As we go into the fall we have to be in better shape,” Rosenthal said. “I think we did a nice job last year, but the schedule is going to be tougher from top to bottom.
“I want them to have the feeling they have to put the time in. We can’t just punch a clock and say we are ready to go. We have raised the bar and they have answered it.”
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.