Coach Brandon Rosenthal had been looking for a challenge for his Lady Bisons and Friday night he found it at Alico Arena in Fort Myers, Fla. The Lady Bisons rallied to win 3-2 against Florida Gulf Coast in an Atlantic Sun Conference match.
“I am proud of the girls,” Rosenthal said. “I give a lot of credit to Florida Gulf Coast’s coaching staff and players. They game-planned well against us and they executed well. At times they outplayed us.”
The Lady Bisons won the first set 25-16, lost set two 25-23, won set three 25-23 and then lost set four 25-20. The Lady Bisons were forced to make a comeback in set five for a 15-12 win. It was the first time this season an A-Sun team has won more than one set in a match against the Lady Bisons.
“We had a tough time getting into a rhythm,” Rosenthal said. “Defensively, we didn’t make some stops that we should have. Offensively, we just struggled from top to bottom. It is hard when you struggle as a team. We couldn’t get anything going.”
In the fifth set the Lady Bisons were down 11-10 prompting Rosenthal to call a timeout. The Lady Bisons came back out and scored five points to one by Florida Gulf Coast to ice the match. They finished the set with a .417 hitting percentage, their highest of the match.
“In the fifth set the girls found a way against tough competition,” Rosenthal said. “When you look at that last set we could have easily folded. For us to hit that well was tremendous for us.
“During the timeout the focus for us was that we needed to execute. We were not doing the little things well like moving our feet to pass and being disciplined on defense. Even in the fifth set we gave up a lot of points that we don’t normally do.”
Outside hitter Meghan Hinemeyer led the Lady Bisons with 18 kills, a personal game-high for the season. Middle blocker Alex Kelly added 17 kills. Charlyn Ursell made 14 kills to go with a .480 hitting percentage.
“I thought Char really turned it up towards the end, especially in the fourth set,” Rosenthal said. “She was demanding the ball. That was the first time we have heard that from her. That is something we would love to see from her again. We need that at times.
“Meghan did not play her best, especially in sets two and three. She really was struggling. We encouraged her to just keep working. In the fifth set she came up with some huge kills when we needed to be bailed out.”
Defensively Kelly led the way for the Lady Bisons with 17 digs. Defensive specialist Caitlin “Dot” Dotson added 16. Hinemeyer and libero Stephanie Rex each had 11.
The win kept the Lady Bisons unbeaten this season in Atlantic Sun matches with an 8-0 record. It was also their 33rd straight conference regular season win.
The Lady Bisons hold a 6-2 lead in the series overall with Florida Gulf Coast. It was the second win of the season for the Lady Bisons against Florida Gulf Coast. The two teams played Sept. 26 at Allen Arena with the Lady Bisons winning 3-0.
In Friday’s match Chelsea Lyles, with a match-high 22 kills, and Holly Youngquist, with a match-high 22 digs, led Florida Gulf Coast.
The Lady Bisons, 19-6 overall, travel to Stetson Saturday for a match starting at noon in DeLand, Fla. If they win it would mark the fourth season in a row the Lady Bisons have won 20 or more matches.
“We had to play in front of a really great crowd at Florida Gulf Coast,” Rosenthal said. “Our girls found a way at the end. They really stuck together. That was probably the best thing we took away from the match.
“The 20-win mark is one that all coaches want to get to each season. It will probably mean more to me than to the players.”
Florida Gulf Coast slipped to 5-17, 2-6 in the A-Sun. Stetson, 1-23, 0-8 in the A-Sun, lost 3-1 to Belmont Friday night at the Edmunds Center.
Written by Mark McGee, Senior Publisher/Director of Media Relations.