Volleyball Unanimously Selected as BIG EAST Preseason Favorite

Aug. 12, 2010

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – After finishing in a tie for first place and a tie for second place in the BIG EAST Conference regular-season standings in 2008 and 2009, respectively, the University of Cincinnati volleyball team is forecasted to continue that trend in 2010 after being unanimously picked to finish first by conference coaches in the annual BIG EAST Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the conference announced on Thursday. In addition to Cincinnati being favored to take home the regular-season crown, senior outside hitter Stephanie Niemer was tabbed the BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year.

The votes were cast by the league’s 15 head coaches who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.

The Bearcats earned 196 points, including 14 first-place votes, followed by Louisville with 176 points. Cincinnati and Louisville met in the BIG EAST Tournament championship match a year ago. Notre Dame was pegged third with 161 points, while Marquette earned 158 points to place fourth. Pittsburgh, USF, Seton Hall, and Syracuse were slotted fifth through eighth place, respectively.

“It’s great to be picked first in the conference but right now our goal is to get in the gym and prepare for our season-opening tournament in San Diego,” said 11th-year head coach Reed Sunahara.



Niemer becomes the first UC player to be selected BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year and was one of two players to be unanimously selected for the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team alongside Louisville sophomore outside hitter and reigning BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Lola Arslanbekova. In 2009, Niemer was an American Volleyball Coaches’ Association Honorable-Mention All-America selection, an AVCA All-Northeast Region recipient, and took home first-team all-BIG EAST honors while ranking among conference leaders in kills per set, aces, and points per set.

“With this being my senior year, I am honored to be named Preseason Player of the Year,” said Niemer. “More importantly, we are working hard in the gym to try and prepare ourselves for another successful season.”

In addition to Niemer, senior Annie Fesl and junior Missy Harpenau also earned All-BIG EAST Preseason Team recognition. Fesl was a first-team all-conference performer in 2009, while Harpenau was a AVCA Honorable-Mention All-Northeast Region and second-team all-BIG EAST selection.

“Stephanie, Annie, and Missy have each worked hard in the off-season along with their teammates and they are excited to get back on the floor here in a few weeks,” Sunahara said.

Cincinnati returns 10 letterwinners from the 2009 season, who led UC to a 25-11 record, its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance, and its first BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game showing.

The Bearcats open the 2010 campaign against Northern Colorado on Friday, Aug. 27, in the opening match of the San Diego State Tournament in San Diego, Calif. UC rounds out the tournament against Cal State Northridge and San Diego State on Saturday, Aug. 28, before heading up the California coast to play UC Santa Barbara on Monday, Aug. 30.

2010 BIG EAST Volleyball Preseason Awards and Coaches Poll


BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year

Stephanie Niemer, Cincinnati, Sr., OH


All-BIG EAST Preseason Team

*Lola Arslanbekova, Louisville, So., OH

Ashley Beyer, Marquette Jr., OH

Allie Boaz, USF, Sr., RS

Kristen Dealy, Notre Dame, Jr., OH

Vanessa Dorismond, Georgetown, Sr., OH

Annie Fesl, Cincinnati, Sr., S

Missy Harpenau, Cincinnati, Jr., OH

Nikki Klingsporn, Marquette, Sr., S

Kim Maroon, Villanova, Jr., L

Maggie Mergen, Villanova, Jr., MB

Rebecca Murray, Connecticut, Sr., MH

*Stephanie Niemer, Cincinnati, Sr., OH

Kellie Sciacca, Notre Dame, Sr., MB

Amy Town, Pittsburgh, Sr., OH

* - unanimous selection


^ – Due to a tie in voting, extra members have been added to the BIG EAST Preseason All-Conference Team


BIG EAST Preseason Coaches’ Poll


                                                               2009               2009               2009

    School                     Points       BIG EAST           Overall              Finish

1. Cincinnati (14)          196                12-2              19-11              T-2nd

2. Louisville                  176             10-4            21-11               4th

3. Notre Dame              161             14-0             21-7               1st

4. Marquette (1)            158               6-8            18-12            T-8th

5. Pittsburgh                 139             12-2            20-11            T-2nd

6. USF                         122               9-5            18-10            T-5th

7. Seton Hall                  96               6-8            12-19            T-8th

8. Syracuse                   94               9-5            21-11            T-5th

9. Connecticut                90               7-7            14-17               7th

10. St. John’s                 85             2-12             9-21               4th

11. Villanova                  81               5-9             6-13             11th

12. Georgetown              65             4-10            14-16             12th

13. West Virginia             60               6-8            17-13            T-8th

14. Rutgers                    35             3-11            10-19             13th

15. DePaul                     17             0-14             6-23             15th

(-) – first-place votes