Aug. 26, 2014
CINCINNATI - The University of Cincinnati volleyball team is slated to begin its 2014 campaign on Friday, Aug. 29, with a match against Duquesne at 7 p.m. inside Fifth Third Arena. It has been a productive offseason for the Bearcats as they prepare for a year that will feature many new faces and some familiar ones as well.
UC welcomes nine new players to the roster this season to add depth to the team. Freshmen Cortnee Bowser (Kent, Ohio/Theodore Roosevelt), Christine Chandler (Milford, Ohio/Mount Notre Dame), Corie Flood (Villa Hills, Ky./Saint Henry), Maya Muldrow (Raleigh, N.N./Wakefield), Macie Pifer (Euclid, Ohio/Beaumont) and Parker Shepherd (McKinney, Texas/McKinney Boyd) will all make their Bearcats debuts this fall.
Also joining the roster are three transfers who will favor considerably in the Bearcats game plan, including sophomore Lindsey Dinkelacker (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Louis) and juniors Caitlin Ogletree (Montgomery, Texas/Houston) and Emma Roberson (Brooks, Ky./Evansville).
"The bottom line in evaluating and recruiting these players is just experience" said head coach Molly Alvey. "All of them bring a high level of experience. The transfers obviously already have college experience and I think our freshman class is a strong class with a high volleyball IQ."
So many new players could cause some growing pains for UC, but the team will rely heavily on a core group of returning veterans. Seniors Madi Lang (Commerce Township, Mich./Florida Atlantic), Jamie Netisingha (Westmont, Ill./Hinsdale Central) and Me'Ashah Nicholson (Shiloh, Ill./Belleville Althoff) look to use three years of experience to lead their teammates on and off the court. Included in the returning group are juniors Morgan Allred (Carrolton, Texas/Hebron) and Amelia Wegman (Aurora, Ill./Rosary) and sophomores Ciara Hill (Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook) and Alison Kimmel (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield North).
"I have leaned specifically on (Nicholson and Wegman) for leadership on and off the court" stated Alvey. "They have been doing a fantastic job of that and stepped into those roles quite beautifully actually. They have been doing a great job as far as being two of the top leaders on the team."
What the new faces do not mean for the Bearcats is a lack of experience. The returning players make up 71 percent of the total kills from a season ago while also tallying 61 percent of the blocks, 58 percent of the service aces and 55 percent of the digs. Hill, Nicholson and Allred return as the top three team leaders in kills from 2013 while Nicholson also led the team in blocks. Both Allred and Netisingha recorded over 200 digs and Nicholson and Allred both return as two of the top three servers.
Also new for the Bearcats this season will be many teams on the schedule, including four brand new opponents and seven more teams they have only matched up against six time or fewer. The Bearcats will welcome first-time foes UC Irvine and Charleston Southern to Fifth Third Arena this season while playing both Appalachian State and the New Jersey Institute of Technology for the first time at a neutral site.
"In non-conference scheduling its more about choosing the right teams for the fit of your team" stated Alvey. "Really, scheduling is a complete art in itself. As far as frequency of playing teams, I am not concerned about that at all. I think this schedule is a great one and for this particular team it presents some great opportunities and some great challenges. The plan is that the non-conference schedule will get us tuned up and ready to go for conference play."
Overall, the Bearcats are 151-111 historically against the teams on the 2014 schedule for a .577 winning percentage.
Cincinnati kicks off the 2014 season with the inaugural Queen City Classic, held in conjunction with Xavier University on Aug. 29 and 30. In addition to Duquesne, the Bearcats also will welcome UC Irvine and will play at Xavier to round out the tournament.
Season tickets for all 15 home matches can be purchased for as little $10. For more information, visit GoBEARCATS.com/tickets or call 1-877-CATS-TIX.