During the Tangi Tourism Lion Classic this past weekend, momentum was heading in the wrong direction for the Hatters. After opening the weekend with a 3-0 victory over Southern Friday morning, Stetson split the first two sets with tournament host Southeastern Louisiana later that afternoon. The Lions, however, took the next two sets to win the match, and then the Hatters dropped three straight sets to Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday morning. Although Stetson dropped four of those five sets by three points or less, the Hatters found themselves struggling just to win a single set.
With a couple hour break before returning to the court for the weekend’s final match against Louisiana Tech, the coaches and captains decided it was time for a serious discussion.
“Coach Meghan (Bryant) and I talked to the team after the tough loss (to Nebraska-Omaha), and we challenged them with a couple of things,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. “I challenged them to not worry about the scoring and just play, and coach Meghan challenged to put their words into action. They were wanting to play better and wanting to win against good teams."
Senior captains Kaley Melville and Ellen Hawks played a key role in the team meeting as well.
"The captains pulled the team together and decided that this is our last preseason tournament before we head into conference," Melville said. "Ellen stepped in and said, 'This is when we decide what we want to be about. The decision is up to the team. It’s not up to anyone else but ourselves.' We just kind of put our heads to together and decided, ‘This is us, and this is what we are going to be.’ That really set us off for the last game. That was a big turnaround for us.”
Despite dropping another two-point decision (27-25) in the first set to Louisiana Tech, the Hatters came roaring back, hitting a combined .457 over the final three sets to pull away with the 3-1 victory.
"The girls responded to all of those things very well," Loesch said about the team meeting. "They just came out and played their best. Everybody that went in was focused on doing their part. Everybody played really aggressively, and that’s something we have been preaching to them all year.”
Now 7-5 on the season, the Hatters open a three-game homestand at 7 p.m. Tuesday night against Bethune-Cookman at the Edmunds Center. General Admission tickets are $5 ($4 for seniors/students) while all Stetson University faculty, staff, and students are free with their Stetson ID.