Bearcats Ousted From BIG EAST Tourney By Notre Dame|
Nov. 16, 2007
MILWAUKEE---A season-high 18.5 team blocks weren't enough as Cincinnati's trip to the 2007 BIG EAST Championship came to an early end at the hands of Notre Dame in a quarterfinal match on Friday at the Al McGuire Center. UC couldn't overcome a two games to none deficit, in falling by scores of 26-30, 24-30, 30-23, 24-30. UC, seeded fifth for the event, fell to the fourth-seeded Irish for the second time in a seven-day span and was eliminated from the BIG EAST Championship by Notre Dame for the third straight year.
The Bearcats (18-11) were led offensively by a pair of freshmen as Stephanie Niemer tallied 19 kills and Lindsay Upton added a career-high 13. Jessie Nevitt was limited to six kills and .000 hitting, but did have eight blocks. Jessica Elley just missed a triple-double, finishing with 10 kills, 10 digs and eight blocks.
Cincinnati had no answer for the outside hitting duo of Megan Fesl and Adrianna Stasiuk who scorched the Bearcats for a combined 41 kills. Fesl led all players with 21, while Stasiuk added 20, along with 17 digs on .368 hitting. Notre Dame improves to 14-12 on the year with the victory and will take on the winner of No. 1 Louisville against No. 8 Syracuse in Saturday's first semi-final.
The Bearcats got off to a slow start as several errors pushed them behind by an early 11-7 count. Out of the break, UC recovered, clawing back within a point at 14-13 on a kill by Elley. Later, Jenny Custer tied the game at 21-all, but Notre Dame rattled off five straight points to take a comfortable lead. Cincinnati stayed alive after a Justine Stremick kill gave the Irish game point at 29-24. An Upton kill and a Notre Dame error brought UC within three, but a Bearcat miscue gave game one to the Irish.
The opening of game two saw the Bearcats grab a 10-8 lead, but four straight Irish points forced a UC timeout trailing by two. Out of the stoppage, UC scored seven of the next nine, causing Notre Dame to take a timeout with a 17-14 deficit. The back-and-forth battle started going the way of the Irish as they scored 10 of the next 15 to take control. UC got back within a point on a kill by Elley, but Notre Dame scored five of the final six to take a two games to zero lead into the break.
After the break, Cincinnati looked like a different team, hitting a match-high .300 and forcing a game four. A kill by Custer pushed the Bearcats into an early 11-7 advantage and after Notre Dame fought back to 12-11, the Bearcats exploded on a 6-0 run to take their largest lead of the day. The Irish kept it close with back-to-back kills by Megan Fesl to trim the deficit to 25-20, but three Niemer kills helped the Bearcats close out game three.
The fourth game was a battle, but ultimately fell to the Irish in part due to a .045 hitting performance by the Bearcats. Notre Dame came out firing, forcing UC timeouts with leads at 11-7 and 18-14. Out of the break, Cincinnati made a game of it, charging back to tie the score at 23 as Annie Fesl, Upton and Niemer combined to block Megan Fesl. But Cincinnati would score just one more point on the afternoon, that coming after Notre Dame had ripped off six straight to get to match point. Megan Fesl's 21st kill of the day ended the match and pushed Notre Dame into the semis.
Jaime Frey had a big day from her libero slot, leading all players with 22 digs. Notre Dame, which recorded 16.0 team blocks, got seven from Stremick and six from Serinity Phillips.
The Bearcats will wrap up the 2007 season next weekend, traveling to Stockton, Calif. for the Community Bankers Classic. UC will open the tournament against St. Mary's on Friday at 5 p.m. PT.