1999 Season In Review
With a squad that was truly greater than the proverbial sum of its parts, the Bearcats exceeded all expectations with a storybook 28-7 season. Included was a share of the Conference USA American Division crown, the league's tournament title and the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 1981, the inaugural national championship tourney.
A trio of seniors helped UC establish the NCAA record for longest streak between national tournament appearances with a determination that their final season would be their best. A freshman class that proved to be one of the best in school history and a fast improving group of sophomores and juniors helped the team attain national recognition. Observers across the country, from the coaching ranks and the collegiate volleyball world, recognized Cincinnati as one of the top programs in the Midwest.
After a season-opening five-game home loss to crosstown rival Xavier, Cincinnati rebounded with a win over defending Atlantic 10 champ Dayton and a sweep through Ohio University's Bromley Invitational. Senior Jill Waltemeyer was named tournament Most Valuable Player, while classmate Annie Gant and freshman Trish Ladusaw earned all-tournament honors.
Cincinnati lost only two games over its next seven matches, including a sweep of preseason league favorite Louisville. The victory over the Cardinals was the first of the decade for UC after dropping the first 11 meetings of the 1990's.
Cincinnati finished second at the Kent Invitational, dropping a competitive match to nationally-ranked UCLA and sweeping host Kent in a pair of matches. UC followed with wins in 12 of its next 13 matches, helping the team to an 8-1 league mark.
Cincinnati responded to its fourth loss of the season, a road sweep at the hands of Louisville, by losing just one more regular season match. Included down the stretch was a win over eventual NCAA participant Houston and the team's first-ever victory over South Florida, a three-game sweep on Senior Day to extend the home win streak to a school-record 12 contests.
UC headed into the Conference USA tournament with a 24-5 record, a share of the American Division championship and the No. 1 overall seed. After dispatching South Florida in the first round, the Bearcats fell behind 2-0 to DePaul. UC came back thanks to strong blocking and a top defensive effort from Ladusaw, senior Katie Graham and sophomore Rachel Beran to top the Blue Demons in five games.
Having hit the wall, regrouped and scaled over it, UC headed into its second C-USA final eager to earn the league's automatic NCAA tournament bid. Standing in the way was archrival Louisville.
Cincinnati controlled the tempo of the final from start to finish and closed out the match in the fourth game to celebrate their second NCAA tournament bid.
Junior Stephanie Meinig was named C-USA Tournament MVP, while sophomore Shante Haymore and freshman Bonita Wise were named to the all-tournament team.
UC split a pair of matches at defending national champion Long Beach State's Thanksgiving Tournament, knocking off Patriot League champ Colgate before falling in three to the 49ers. After making the trek across the country, the Bearcats found their path to the national tournament would provide a return trip to California where they would face Santa Clara in the first round.
The Bearcats lost Waltemeyer early in the second game to an ankle sprain and fell behind 2-0 in their first NCAA appearance since 1981. After scratching and clawing its way to a third game win, the Broncos ended UCUs dream season with a 3-1 win.
Despite the NCAA loss, nothing could diminish what the 1999 Bearcat volleyball team had achieved ... an opportunity to take another step towards establishing itself as an elite program on the college volleyball landscape.
1999 Season Notes
UC's NCAA Tournament appearance was its first since 1981, the inaugural year of the championship. The 18-year stretch between tournament appearances is an NCAA record.
The Bearcats finished the 1999 season ranked No. 3 in District 6 in the AVCA poll. UC climbed as high as No. 2 in the poll during the season. A school record three players earned All-District honors, including AVCA District Freshman of the Year Bonita Wise.
Cincinnati extended its streak of 20-win seasons to five with its 28-7 record. The squad has averaged over 24 wins per season during that stretch. The 28 wins was the fourth highest total in school history.
The Bearcats set school records for most kills (2,051) while finishing second in assists (1,844) and attacks (5,636), fourth in blocks (334.5) and fifth in digs (2,277).
Cincinnati won its final 12 contests at the Shoemaker Center in 1999, breaking the school record of 10 matches set bridging the 1989 and 1990 seasons. The Bearcats will look to extend that streak in the 2000 season. UC went undefeated (8-0) in Conference USA play last year.
Senior Annie Gant earned C-USA Setter of the Year and AVCA All-District honors after finishing 14th in the country and first in C-USA in assists (13.70).
First team all-conference and all-district selection Stephanie Meinig registered her third consecutive 100-block season, leading the team and finishing third in the conference with 152.
UC players shone brightly thanks to their defensive ability. Senior Katie Graham recorded her third straight 300-dig season and ended her career third on the school's all-time list with 1,153 digs. She was named C-USA Defensive Specialist of the Year for the second time. Freshman Trish Ladusaw registered a season record 510 digs, helping her finish second in C-USA.