Another Year, Another Bearcats Invitational Title For UC|
Sept. 4, 2010
CINCINNATI--Cincinnati won its seventh Bearcats Invitational Championship in eight tries, knocking off Murray State in the final match of the tournament on Saturday night in Fifth Third Arena. With a victory by scores of 25-17, 25-15, 25-19, the Bearcats improve to 6-1 this season and 23-1 all-time in the Bearcat Invitational.
Stephanie Niemer, one of three Bearcats on the all-tournament team, turned in her best performance of the year leading all players with 18 kills and hitting .692. Missy Harpenau had another outstanding match to earn tournament most valuable player honors with nine kills on .318 hitting. UC's third all-tournament member, Annie Fesl, handed out 45 assists from her setter position, while chipping in a team-high eight digs.
Cincinnati trailed by just one point on two separate occasions during the entire match against a Murray State (2-5) that had lost four straight entering the tournament, but was victorious in its first two Invitational contests. The Racers got 10 kills on .474 hitting from Ashley Nenninger in the defeat.
Both teams started the night hitting strong, with Murray State actually holding a .333 to .326 advantage in set one despite losing by eight points. Niemer came to life right away, burning the visiting Racers for eight kills in the first set. With the score tied at three early on, UC took a four-point lead on the strength of a 7-3 run. Back-to-back kills by Jordanne Scott and Niemer and a Harpenau ace helped the Bearcats double up the Racers at 18-9. Later, UC forced MSU into its final timeout at 22-13 after a Becca Refenes kill. Out of the break, a kill and ace by Niemer set up set point, but three straight UC errors kept the visitors alive. Following a UC stoppage, Niemer knocked down kill number eight of set one to end it.
The Bearcats dominated in set two, hitting a match-best .483 and holding the Racers to a .217 clip. Harpenau and Niemer both keyed the run to victory with four kills apiece, hitting .667 and .571 in the frame. UC raced out of the gates, riding three Niemer kills to an early 12-3 lead. The home team took its first double-digit lead of the set when Niemer served an ace to make it 21-11. From there, the Bearcats closed it out in part due to two Emily Hayden kills to take a two-set advantage into the locker room.
What would prove to be the final set was tight at first, as a Cincinnati error allowed Murray State to tie the frame at five-all. A 7-3 spurt from there pushed Murray State into a timeout, trailing 12-8. The Racers continued to stay close and knotted the score at 16 late in the going. UC wouldn't allow the spurt to phase it as Harpenau and Hayden each dropped a kill and then combined on a block to go ahead for good. Down the stretch, UC put the finishing touches on the win with two kills each by Niemer and Refenes keying the run to victory. The Bearcats' strong hitting continued as the team rolled to a .406 mark, while the defense held the Racers to .292.
Cincinnati, now winners of four straight will face a stiff challenge in making it five in a row, when No. 16 Kentucky visits Fifth Third Arena on Tuesday night. First serve is set for 7:30 p.m.
In the next-to-last match of the night, James Madison shocked Kent State with a 12-2 run in the deciding fifth set to pull out its first win of the tournament in a thriller. The Dukes won by scores of 21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-13 in the contest to improve to 4-2 on the season.
Danielle Erb put up 20 kills and 13 digs in the win for JMU, while Lindsay Callahan tacked on 17 kills. Kent State got 17 kills from all-tournament team member Merdeith Paskert and 14 from Liva Brivule. Kelly Turner, sister of current Bearcat sophomore Megan Turner was James Madison's all-tournament team representative.
2010 Bearcats Invitational presented by Fifth Third Bank All-Tournament Team
MVP: Missy Harpenau (Cincinnati)