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CINCINNATI, Ohio — The Cincinnati volleyball team hopes to earn its first league win of the year as it travels to face DePaul on Fri., Oct. 4 and Marquette on Sat., Oct. 5, both matches at 7 p.m. CT. The Bearcats are 7-6 overall and 0-1 in Conference USA after dropping a 3-2 decision at Louisville last Friday.
The loss to the Cardinals snapped a five-match winning streak for the Bearcats, who are entering the final three matches of a 12-match road trip. Sophomore Julie DuPont rankes second in C-USA and ninth in the nation with 5.46 kills per game and is adding 2.89 digs and 0.93 blocks a game. Senior co-captain Trish Ladusaw leads the league and is fourth in the country with 4.91 digs per game and the other captain, senior Bonita Wise, is hitting .281 with 3.30 kills, 2.02 digs and 1.04 blocks per game.
DePaul is 3-11 and has lost six of its last seven matches. Friday’s match will be its league opener. UC owns an 18-15 lead in the all-time series and had won 14-straight against the Blue Demons before they were knocked out of the C-USA tournament by DePaul last year.
Marquette stands at 9-4 overall and is 1-0 in C-USA after sweeping East Carolina last weekend. The Bearcats are 20-3 all-time against the Golden Eagles, including wins in 16 of the last 17 meetings.
About the Bearcats: UC owns a 7-6 overall record and is 0-1 in Conference USA after falling at Louisville, 3-2, last Friday. Julie DuPont remains the offensive leader, posting 5.46 kills per game while adding 2.89 digs and 0.93 blocks a game. Bonita Wise continues to be red hot, as she has carded seven-straight double-figure kills matches. She is hitting .281 with 3.30 kills, 2.02 digs and 1.04 blocks a game to go with a team-high 12 aces. Trish Ladusaw leads the league and is among the top five in the nation averaging 4.91 digs per game.
About DePaul: The Blue Demons stand 3-11 and have lost six of their last seven heading into Tuesday’s match at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The defending C-USA Tournament champs are led by Lara Marks, who leads the league with a .344 hitting percentage to go with 3.28 kills and 1.11 blocks a game. Kate Engel has a team-high 3.98 kills per game average and Amy Holmes is recording 2.77 digs per game.
About Marquette: The Golden Eagles are 9-4 overall after opening league play with a 3-0 win over East Carolina last weekend. Shannon Devine leads the team with a .288 hitting percentage and 3.76 kills and 1.20 blocks a game. Theresa Coughlin is adding 3.59 kills a game and Danielle Nagen is chipping in with 3.10 digs a game.
Last Year vs. the Blue Demons: The Bearcats split a pair of meetings with DePaul last season, starting with a 3-0 win on Oct. 12 in Cincinnati. Julie DuPont had 16 kills and hit .467 in the 30-27, 30-22, 30-22 rout. Trish Ladusaw added 10 kills and 23 digs as UC outhit DePaul, .228 to .106. Katie Engel recorded 11 kills to lead the Blue Demons. DePaul got revenge in the C-USA Tournament semifinals, knocking out the top-seeded Bearcats, 3-1, on Nov. 17. UC hit only .095 in the 30-21, 22-30, 30-22, 30-21 loss, with Bonita Wise carding a match-high 19 kills to go with 10 digs. DuPont added 13 kills, five digs and seven blocks. Stephanie Bishop and Engel each recorded 16 kills and 11 digs for DePaul.
Last Year vs. the Golden Eagles: UC swept both meetings with Marquette in 2001, taking a tough five-gamer at home, 28-30, 30-27, 28-30, 30-20, 15-12, on Oct. 13. Julie DuPont had a team season-high 30 kills and hit .390 with 21 digs. Trish Ladusaw had 18 kills and 16 digs and Bonita Wise added 13 kills and eight blocks. Vesna Grbavac led Marquette with 21 kills and 14 digs and Shannon Devine had 10 kills and 10 blocks. On Nov. 4, UC clinched the regular season conference title with a 30-22, 30-23, 30-25 win in Milwaukee. The Bearcats held the Eagles to .087 hitting, led by Wise’s eight blocks that went with 10 kills. Ladusaw added a team-high 14 kills. Grbavac had 15 kills and 11 digs for Marquette.
Turning Up the D: In 2001 the Bearcats went 17-2 when holding their opponents under .200 hitting and 6-6 when they did not. In 2002, that stat is even more crucial as UC has only won the seven matches in which it held its opponent under .200.
Last Time Out: Game 13 - Louisville 3, UC 2: The Bearcats got double-doubles from three players but could not hang on to the 2-1 lead at a sold out Cardinal Arena. In the conference opener for both teams, Julie DuPont had a match-high 26 kills and 12 digs and Bonita Wise recorded 18 kills, 19 digs, four blocks and two aces.
Bearcats in Conference USA: Having recently opened another Conference USA season, the Bearcats boast a proud history of success in league play. In the seven years of C-USA play, UC volleyball teams have gone 83-24 for a .776 winning percentage. The total wins and the percentage rank third- and fourth-best, respectively, among C-USA schools, trailing Louisville and South Florida, and Houston in winning percentage. The Bearcats have now won 44 of their last 53 matches against C-USA opponents. Five of the nine losses have been to Louisville.
Slow Starters: For the second consecutive year, the Bearcats got off to a slow start, starting 2-5. Last year, UC rebounded with a 16-match winning streak. This season the Bearcats won five in a row before falling at Louisville.
Coming on Strong: Over the first six matches of the season three-time all-conference performer Bonita Wise was hitting just .237, averaging 2.57 kills per game and had double-figure kills in only three matches as UC went 2-4. In the last seven matches, five of them UC wins, Wise is hitting .309 and averaging 3.92 kills, 3.08 digs and 1.04 blocks a game while getting 10 or more kills in all seven matches.
Unstoppable: Sophomore OH Julie DuPont has been nothing short of outstanding thus far this season. She has led the Bearcats in kills in all but one match, averaging 5.46 kills per game. DuPont has surpassed the 20-kill mark six times with eight or more digs 10 times and four or more blocks seven times. This production comes after making the switch to the outside from middle blocker, a position at which she garnered all-freshmen team accolades last season.
Torblaa’s Time to Shine: Rachel Torblaa was a valuable defensive player in limited action as a freshman last year, averaging 1.12 blocks a game. This season she has improved her defensive stats, averaging 1.43 blocks a game with five or more in eight matches, including 10 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her offensive output this year has been an added bonus. Torblaa is hitting .216 with 2.33 kills a game, carding eight or more in nine matches.
Outstanding Individual Efforts: Despite the Bearcats’ slow start, they rank in the top three in C-USA in four statistical categories and have three players leading the league in different stats. Trish Ladusaw is tops in C-USA for the third-straight year with 4.91 digs per game, Laura Lauder is averaging 13.00 assists per game and Rachel Torblaa is recording 1.43 blocks per game. After leading the conference early on, Julie DuPont is now second in kills per game at 5.46. The key to the below average start and the recent resurgence may be UC’s ranking in both hitting percentage and opponents’ hitting percentage. After ranking 12th in both categories two weeks ago, the Bearcats are now ranked fifth ands sixth, respectively.
Tackling Ranked Foes: The Bearcats win over then No. 25 Colorado State on Sept. 21 was UC’s second match against a ranked opponent this season. Cincinnati battled then No. 25 Notre Dame in the second match of the season, falling in three games. The Bearcats’ win at No. 22 Louisville on Oct. 10, 2001 was their first ever over a nationally-ranked team.
Bearcats in the NCAA Rankings: A pair of Bearcats finished 2001 ranked among Division I leaders. Laura Lauder averaged 12.68 assists per game to rank 26th and Trish Ladusaw ranked 18th with 4.06 dig per game. So far in 2002, Lauder and Ladusaw are again ranked, as are another pair of teammates. As of the matches of Sept. 22, Ladusaw was fourth in NCAA Division I, averaging 4.95 digs a game, and Lauder was 14th in assists per game with 13.15. Julie DuPont ranked ninth in the nation in kills per game with a 5.49 average and Rachel Torblaa was 20th in blocks, carding 1.46 per game.
The Leaders: Senior co-captains Trish Ladusaw and Bonita Wise are the unrivalled leaders of the Bearcats, as the classmates have combined for five first-team all-league honors and have written their names all over the UC record book. Wise is on seven career top 10 lists, including ranking third in block assists and fifth in kills. Ladusaw owns all of UC’s dig records, surpassing the career total last year and owning three of the top four single season marks. She is also in the top 10 in kills, kills per game and attempts.
Ladusaw Goes for Another Dig Record: Trish Ladusaw became UC’s all-time digs leader last season, surpassing the mark of 1,303 set by Becky Tenkman from 1995-98. Ladusaw now has 1,780 career digs, ranking second in Conference USA history, just 66 behind record holder Stephanie Bishop (DePaul, 1998-2001).
Searching for National Ranking: The Bearcats received 12 points in the USA Today/AVCA preseason poll, 39th-best, but fell completely out in the Sept. 2 poll. UC spent the last half of 2001 in the others recieving points category, climbing as high as 26th and finishing the year at 30th.
Ladusaw on the NCAA Digs Chart: Trish Ladusaw’s career digs per game average of 4.37 ranks her fifth all-time in Division I history. Catalina Suarez, who played for both Kansas and Missouri-Kansas City, holds the record of 5.13, with Kerry House of Loyola Marymount (4.89) standing second. Kylie Hunter of Chattanooga (4.44) and Nia Kiggundu of Louisiana-Lafayette (4.41) round out the top four.
Sweeping Through the Coors Classic: The Bearcats closed out their pre-conference schedule in style, winning all three matches at the Coors Classic, including a 3-0 win over host No. 25 Colorado State. Julie DuPont was named to her third all-tournament team after averaging 5.80 kills, 2.60 digs and 1.10 blocks per game. Trish Ladusaw was also a third-time all-tournament honoree after hitting .271 with 3.10 kills and 5.00 digs a game. Bonita Wise received her second such honor after hitting .290 with 3.60 kills, 3.70 digs and 1.20 blocks a game.
Wise’s Solid Hitting: Bonita Wise’s outing against Austin Peay was truly impressive and pushed her to the top of UC’s hitting chart for this season. Wise hit .600 against the Lady Govs, registering 15 kills, with no errors in 25 swings. The effort ranked as the fifth-best performance in school history, with a minimum of 20 attempts. Annisa Blosser tops the charts with a .793 match in 1994.
More Tournament Honors: After placing three players on the all-tournament team at the season-opening Shamrock Invitational, the Bearcats landed three more at the Wright State Raider Challenge. Senior Bonita Wise led the way, nabbing most valuable player honors after 4.40 kills per game and hitting .376 for the weekend. Joining Wise on the team were outside hitters Julie DuPont and Trish Ladusaw. DuPont averaged 5.10 kills per game, including a 25 kill, 20 dig effort against Central Michigan. Not to be outdone, Ladusaw averaged 3.50 kills and 5.30 digs per game for the three matches.
Tournament Success: Despite going 1-2 at the Shamrock Invitational to open the season, outside hitters Trish Ladusaw and Julie DuPont were both named to the all-tournament team. Ladusaw averaged 5.55 digs per game, including 28 in the five-game loss to Cal Poly. In that match she also set a career high with 24 kills. DuPont recorded 5.00 kills per game, with at least 14 in every match.
UC Picked Second in Preseason Poll: The defending Conference USA champion Bearcats were picked to finish second in 2002 in the coaches’ preseason poll. Louisville, who finished one match behind UC last season, were picked to win the league. Three-time all-conference pick Bonita Wise was named to the preseason all-C-USA team for the second-stright year.
Continued Bearcat Success: Last season continued the tremendous success that Cincinnati volleyball has enjoyed since the creation of Conference USA. The Bearcats won the 2001 regular season C-USA championship after winning division titles the previous two years, making their third-straight trip to the NCAA tournament. UC’s quarterfinal win in the C-USA Tournament gave it its seventh-straight 20-win season. UC had three first team All-C-USA selections last year and has had 15 in the last seven years.
Freshmen Tradition: UC has won at least a share of the last three C-USA Freshman of the Year awards. Bonita Wise and Laura Lauder each were co-winners of the award in 1999 and 2000, respectively, and Becky Stahl was the unanimous choice last season. Attempting to continue the string in 2002 is UC’s best-ever recruiting class, featuring high school all-Americans Maddie Barron and Suzi Terrell, as well as Haley King and Lindsey Garrison.
Season of Streaks: From Sept. 23 to Nov. 4, 2001 the Bearcats won a school-record 16-straight matches, including 14 in Conference USA. The streak came on the heels of five consecutive losses, including three to teams ranked in the top 15. The streak of 16 is the third-longest in C-USA history, trailing only the South Florida teams of 2000 (20) and 1997 (17).
Breakthrough Win: Last year’s NCAA first round win over Xavier was UC’s first in four trips to the NCAA Tournament. Before that win, game three against Santa Clara in 1999 was the only game UC had won in three matches.
Bearcats In Regional Rankings: Cincinnati finished second the Midwest in the final 2001 regional rankings released by the NCAA. Fellow Conference USA members Louisville, South Florida, DePaul, Houston and Marquette were also ranked. Seven of the other nine teams in the rankings are on the 2002 schedule for UC. The Bearcats were 8-2 vs. teams ranked in their region and 12-7 vs. those ranked in all eight regions. The Bearcats reached No. 1 for the first time in 2000 and finished the year ranked third.