2000 Season In Review
The 2000 season for the Bearcat volleyball team was filled with milestones, accomplishments and accolades.
A second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and third overall for the program. A second Conference USA American Division crown. Four first-team all-league picks. A sixth consecutive 20-win season. But the season may be best remembered for UC's resiliency and ability to fight through adversity.
Cincinnati won seven times during the season after losing game one. Three times UC fell behind 2-0 only to rally for a five-game win. All came against 20-win teams on the road. The team's never-say-die attitude was evident, and because of it, earned unprecedented success.
After going 1-2 at Indiana's season-opening tournament, the Bearcats dropped their first two games to Western Kentucky. Senior Shauntel Miller and sophomore Trish Ladusaw refused to let the team lose, blasting 31 kills and recording 30 digs, respectively, in helping UC rally for the win. The rally was only the 10th in program history since moving to best-of-five game matches in 1983.
Cincinnati turned the trick on the road again just four days later in helping UC claim the Dayton Flyer First Serve Invitational crown with a 3-2 win over the host school.
After splitting the next four matches, including a loss at No. 18 Ohio State, the 7-4 Bearcats came together as the C-USA season opened.
A five-game win at preseason C-USA favorite Louisville, the first win over a Cardinal team on the road since 1988, ignited a 10-match win streak. Included was a stretch of 25 straight games won and a 9-0 league record. The success helped Cincinnati ascend to No. 1 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Midwest Region poll
Louisville and Wisconsin-Milwaukee turned the tables on UC, snapping the team's win streak and the Bearcats' nationally-ranked 17-match home win streak, but Cincinnati responded by defeating its next five league opponents.
In a match that would determine the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, South Florida held off UC in a five-game thriller in the regular season finale, but despite the loss claimed its first outright American Division title with its 14-2 league record.
For the second year in a row, Cincinnati needed to defeat the host school at the C-USA Tournament, ousting Charlotte before falling to eventual champion Louisville in the quarterfinals.
In order to strengthen its chances for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, UC took part in the first Conference USA-SEC Challenge at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. The Bearcats made the selection committee take notice, winning a game from No. 9 Florida and for the third time during the season, came back from an 0-2 deficit to knock off eventual NCAA participant Tennessee.
With a 24-9 overall record, UC earned the elusive at-large NCAA bid and traveled up I-71 to Columbus, Ohio to face No. 19 Notre Dame. After dropping game one, Cincinnati stayed step-for-step with the Fighting Irish before falling in UC's second consecutive appearance in the national tournament.
Seniors Stephanie Meinig and Shauntel Miller exhausted their eligibility on a high note. Meinig became the school and conference's career leader in block assists and total blocks, while Miller led the team and finished in the Top 10 in C-USA in kills. Both earned all-league honors.
Trish Ladusaw led C-USA and finished fourth in the country with her 4.71 digs per game average. She also broke the single-match record with 35 in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette en route to earning league Defensive Player of the Year.
Junior Tobi Kirchenwitz and sophomore Bonita Wise tallied the second and third triple-doubles in program history, respectively. Kirchenwitz keyed the five-game rally at Dayton with 15 kills, 10 blocks and 10 digs, while Wise had 11 kills, 10 blocks and 14 digs in a five-game effort against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Following in the footsteps of former teammate Katie Graham, junior Rachel Beran earned the league's top defensive specialist honor with a spot on the all-league first team.
UC's first-year players also made an impact. Laura Lauder became the second consecutive Bearcat to earn the league's Freshman of the Year (Bonita Wise in 1999) after finishing third in the league in assists. Leslie Newell ended the year ranked fifth on the team in kills per game, while classmate Ashley Grooms was one of three players to see action in all 126 games.
2000 Season Notes
Sunahara, McLean Lead College All-Stars On Foreign Tour
Cincinnati head coach Reed Sunahara and assistant coach Darrell McLean were chosen to lead a group of American Collegiate All-Stars on a tour through Spain and Portugal from Feb. 24-March 4. The tour was designed to showcase recently graduated senior players looking to continue their volleyball career on a professional level overseas.
The team went 6-2 on its seven-city tour, visiting well-known tourist spots such as Madrid and Lisbon, Spain and Porto, Portugal.
The trip also allowed the staff to coach under international rules, including the best three-out-of-five rally scoring system which will be implemented by the NCAA this coming season.
The 2000 Seniors: Two NCAA Appearances And A Legacy Of Championships
Stephanie Meinig will go down as one of the top players in Cincinnati history for many reasons. Not only did she reach individual milestones which will not be challenged in the near future, but she led the Bearcat program to unprecedented success.
A two-time first team All-Conference USA selection, Meinig ended her career as the all-time leader in blocks (593) in both UC and C-USA history. She also holds Cincinnati records for most games played (502) in a career and ranks seventh in career kills (982). A two-time C-USA statistical champion in blocks, Meinig holds three of the top 10 single-season block assist totals, and her 12 block assists against Missouri-Kansas City as a senior matched a UC record.
Her desire to improve each season helped her to develop into one of the most dominating presences at the net in the Midwest. A decoy on offense as a freshman, Meinig became one of the team's top weapons by the middle of her junior season. Her dominating play at the 1999 C-USA Tournament helped the Bearcats advance to their first NCAA Tournament in 18 years and earned her tournament MVP. She was named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-District team after leading the squad to a share of its first C-USA American Division title.
Meinig's warrior mentality was evident throughout her senior season. Despite dislocating her shoulder and tearing ligaments in the preseason, Meinig stayed in the lineup, deciding not to redshirt. Her play and leadership were instrumental in helping earn the program's first at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and outright American Division crown.
One of the hardest hitters in Cincinnati history, Shauntel Miller became a force as a senior after three seasons of constant improvement. After increasing her offensive numbers each season, Miller exploded to post one of the top seasons ever by a Bearcat hitter.
Miller served as UC's go-to player during the 2000 season, leading the team in kills (506) and ranking second in hitting percentage (.225). Her kills total ranked sixth among all Conference USA players and helped her earn second team all-league honors. It also stands as the seventh-highest season total by a UC player. She also put herself into the UC record book by blasting a career-high 31 kills against Western Kentucky, becoming only the eighth player in school history to register 30 or more kills in a match.
The Glenwood, Ill., native made her presence known immediately in her final season. She earned Most Valuable Player honors at the Dayton Flyer Invitational and was awarded all-tournament honors at each of the four in-season tournaments UC participated in.
After seeing limited action as a freshman, Miller served as a part-time starter as a sophomore and junior, often being utilized as an instant offensive contributor from the bench. She increased her season totals in kills, hitting percentage and blocks each year. Miller ended her career with 875 kills, just shy of the school's career Top 10 list.
Miller helped UC to a 94-43 record, including a 51-13 mark in Conference USA play. The Bearcats qualified for two NCAA Tournaments, won one C-USA Tournament title and earned a pair of American Division titles during her career.