Bearcat Volleyball Claims BIG EAST Regular Season Crown|
Nov. 14, 2010
MILWAUKEE - The No. 19-ranked University of Cincinnati volleyball team won the BIG EAST regular season championship outright and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament after defeating Marquette University in three sets (25-18, 25-16, 25-20) Sunday, Nov. 14, at the Al McGuire Center.
The Bearcats (26-4, 13-1 BIG EAST) shot a .385 hitting percentage for the match, including sophomore right side Emily Hayden's (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) phenomenal .800 clip (12 kills and no errors on 15 attempts). Senior outside hitter Stephanie Niemer (Erlanger, Ky./St. Henry) had a team-high 13 kills and senior setter Annie Fesl (Arlington Heights, Ill./John Hersey) dished out 35 assists.
After falling behind 5-2 early in the first set, the Bearcats scored eight consecutive points to take a 10-5 lead. During the run, Cincinnati recorded three team blocks and three separate players had kills. UC added two more 3-0 runs in the set, the first extended its lead to 13-6 and the second featured an outstanding diving dig by freshman libero Emily Macintyre (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown) to set up a Niemer kill and upped the score to 21-11. Marquette extended the set and reached the 18-point mark before another Niemer kill gave UC its 25th point.
Cincinnati's defense in the first set was stingy, holding the Golden Eagles to just a .056 hitting percentage and recording six team blocks. Three Bearcats each recorded three digs in the first. Niemer (four kills) and Missy Harpenau's (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mother of Mercy) three kills paced UC's offensive attack, which had a .207 hitting percentage in the set.
The Bearcats started off the second set 3-0, before Marquette bounced back to take a 9-8 lead. On the strength of a .571 attack percentage, Cincinnati pulled away from MU, mounting a seven-point lead at 19-12 before finishing off the set 25-16.
Fesl clinched her seventh double-double of the season in the second set after digging eight Marquette attack attempts. Offensively, sophomore middle blocker Becca Refenes (Westland, Mich./Lutheran Westland) led UC with six kills in the set, followed by Niemer (five kills) and Hayden (four kills). As a team, Cincinnati shot a blistering .571 hitting percentage in the set.
UC went into the third needing just one more set point to win the BIG EAST crown and its players were focused. Hayden, who had three kills in UC's first eight points scored of third set, paced the Bearcats with seven kills in the third. After Marquette took a 5-6 lead, the Bearcats mounted leads of 17-13 before MU came within one at 17-16. A Niemer kill was sandwiched by two Hayden kills, the last of which ended the set and the match.