Senior Missy Harpenau earned Most Outstanding Player of the BIG EAST Championship tournament.

Nov. 20, 2011

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. –The University of Cincinnati volleyball team captured the BIG EAST Championship tournament title for the first time in program history Sunday afternoon over the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish in straight sets (25-22, 25-21, 27-25).

The team recorded 16 blocks in the match, shutting down the Notre Dame offense to a .164 hitting percentage.

The BIG EAST tournament championship is a first for any Cincinnati team. It also puts the Bearcats in the 2011 NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid.

The Bearcats were led in the match by tournament Most Outstanding Player Missy Harpenau (Cincinnati, Ohio/Mother of Mercy) and two other All-Tournament team performers. Harpenau recorded seven kills and 12 digs in the match. She totaled 39 kills and 35 digs in the tournament.

Those that joined Harpenau on the All-tournament team also had solid match performances. Junior Jordanne Scott (Indianapolis, Ind. /Lawurence North) recorded 12 kills and 39 overall. Junior Megan Turner (Ontario, N.Y. /Wayne Central) put down eight kills and a .319 hitting percentage. Her final hitting percentage of the tournament was a .333 mark.

Junior Emily Hayden (Louisville, Ky. /Assumption) put down 10 kills and a .438 hitting percentage. Sophomore Emily MacIntyre recorded 13 digs in the win, while freshman setter Caylin Mahoney (Fort Worth, Texas/Keller Central) led the match with 38 assists.

Junior Becca Refenes (Westland, Mich. /Lutheran Westland) led the match with eight block assists, while Hayden recorded six.

The third set started with a block from Mahoney and Hayden and a kill from Turner for a 6-4 Bearcat lead. The teams traded points and the lead with kills from Turner and Hayden and a block by Harpenau until the Irish pulled ahead 15-13. Refenes and Turner teamed up for another block and Scott added a kill to push the tie at 19. Notre Dame then recorded kills for their 22-21 lead. Mahoney recorded an ace and Refenes put down a kill for the match point 24-23. After three championship points, Turner finally ended the match with a kill for a third set score of 27-25.

Turner and Hayden teamed up to add another block at the start of the second set but Notre Dame still pulled ahead early 5-3. The momentum switched as Turner served a 4-0 run thanks to blocks and kill from Refenes and digs from freshman Jamie Netisingha (Westmont, Ill. /Hinsdale Central) to bring the lead to the Bearcats 14-9. Harpenau and Scott then recorded kills to keep the lead 22-18. Turner ended the set with a kill 25-21 to put the Bearcats ahead 2-0 in the match.

The Fighting Irish served well in the first set, giving them a 7-2 lead. Mahoney placed a kill in the deep corner to shorten the Irish lead 10-7. Scott then put up a solo block to get within three 17-14. Scott then added another block with Refenes and a kill assisted by MacIntyre to close in on the Irish 21-20. The Bearcats finally got the lead 23-22 with a Turner and Refenes block and a Harpenau ace. Turner and Refenes ended the set with another block to seal the set one comeback win 25-22. In the first set alone, the team recorded ten blocks led by Refenes with six block assists.

The Bearcats can celebrate now, but they will be back in action next weekend November 25 against Ohio University at 3:00 p.m. and November 26 against Miami University (OH) at 5:00 p.m.

For complete tournament recaps, videos and pictures, make sure to check out the Championship Central.

The NCAA Selection Show will be next Sunday, November 27. More details to come.