Sometimes a team has to experience the pain of failure before it can reach its full potential.
In some regards, this season was a success for the Bulls (18-16, 5-11 Mid-American Conference) even though they fell to Ohio (18-11, 10-6 MAC), 3-0, in the quarterfinals of the MAC tournament.
Bulls head coach Todd Kress thinks that despite exiting the tournament in the quarters for the second straight season, it could end up being a stepping stone for the team.
"I have to give the credit to this team for the year we had," Kress said. "It was the first winning season we have had since 1996. We beat Ball State for the first time ever and Ohio for the second time. They're definitely some quality parts. It's a positive step in the right direction"
It was the third time that the Bulls and Bobcats played each other this year, with both teams winning on their home courts before this neutral court showdown.
The Bulls struggled throughout the match as they piled up 29 errors on the night and only managed a .019 hitting percentage. Ohio, on the other hand, had a hitting percentage of .244.
Despite the final score, Kress felt his team did everything it could to prepare for Ohio.
"We watched a lot of film and had just beaten Ohio two weeks ago," Kress said. "We just didn't bring the intensity that is needed. A higher amount of intensity is needed in the conference tournament, and we weren't willing to put it in. It is frustrating."
Frustrating is definitely the word to describe the beating the Bobcats gave to the Bulls. Ohio took the first two competitive sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-22. But in the final set, the Bobcats took it to the Bulls and disposed of them with a 25-8 thrashing to put an exclamation point on their victory.
Senior middle blocker Kayla Govier led the Bulls with nine kills in the match. Freshman outside hitter Dana Musil contributed eight kills, while senior outside hitter Marisa Hornbaker had seven.
The disappointing loss was the last match in the careers of Govier, Hornbaker, senior middle blocker Kristin Bignell and senior captain Lindsey Schlegel, who had 14 assists.
This group of seniors leaves UB as one of the more successful groups in recent memory.
The senior class compiled 34 wins in the last two years, which is one more win than the four years prior combined.
Kress knows what it takes for his team to take the next step, and fans will tune in next season to see how well the team progresses over the summer.
"It is going to take an unwavering determination as far as what we do when it comes to conditioning, in the weight room, and on the gym floor," Kress said. "As for the coaching staff, it's about recruiting. We have to go out and look for bigger and better players."