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CINCINNATI, Ohio ó Following a Friday, Oct. 11 trip to Eastern Kentucky, the Cincinnati volleyball team returns home for the first time in over a month. The Bearcats, 9-6 overall and 2-1 in Conference USA will host George Mason on Sun., Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. in the Shoemaker Center.
After dropping their C-USA opener to Louisville on Sept. 27, the Bearcats bounced back last week with conference wins at DePaul and Marquette. Sophomore Julie DuPont continues to shine for Cincinnati, leading C-USA in kills with 5.44 a game. Defensively, senior Trish Ladusaw continues to rank in the top-five nationally and first in C-USA with 4.91 digs per game. Sophomore Leslie Newell burst onto the scene last weekend with a stellar 22-kill performance against Marquette, hitting .625 to boost her to sixth in C-USA in hitting percentage.
Eastern Kentucky enters the week with a 6-8 slate, but plays Morehead State on Tuesday prior to itís match with the Bearcats. The Colonels are currently riding a four-match winning streak after opening the season with five straight losses.
George Mason is 13-4 this season and features one of the nationís top players in Aline Pereira, who leads the country with 6.88 kills per game. The Patriots have won nine of their last 10 matches.
About the Bearcats: UC is 9-6 overall and in a fifth-place tie with Southern Miss in Conference USA at 2-1. Julie DuPont has led the Bearcat offense this season, carding 5.44 kills per game, tops in C-USA. Senior Bonita Wise has continued her exceptional play, hitting .324 with 3.94 kills and 2.64 digs per game over the last nine contests. Setter Laura Lauder leads C-USA with 13.07 assists per game. Senior Trish Ladusaw leads the defense with 4.91 digs per game and is within 28 of breaking Stephanie Bishopís career C-USA mark.
About Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels hold a 6-8 record heading into a Tuesday evening match against Morehead State. After dropping eight of its first 10 matches, Eastern Kentucky has rebounded with four consecutive victories. Becky Galati paces the Colonel offense with 4.24 kills per game, while also leading the squad with 3.30 digs per game.
About George Mason: The Patriots enter the week with a 13-4 record and are in first place in the Colonial Athletic Association with a 7-1 mark. GMU has won nine of itís last 10 matches, dropping only a four-game tilt to Hofstra. Aline Pereira is the unquestioned leader of the Patriots, averaging a nationís-best 6.92 kills per game, while boasting a .364 hitting percentage. She also averages 2.47 digs per game, good for second on the team behind Shelbylynn McBrideís 2.58. The Patriots face Conference USA member Louisville on Saturday prior to their visit to the Queen City.
Last Time Out: Game 14 - UC 3, DePaul 0: Julie DuPont racked up 20 kills and 10 digs as the Bearcats avenged last seasonís Confernce USA tournament loss to the Blue Demons.
Game 15 - UC 3, Marquette 2: DuPont barely missed a triple-double with 23 kills, nine digs and eight blocks and Leslie Newell erupted for a career-high 22 kills, hitting .625 as the Bearcats earned a hard fought win.
Ladusaw Nearing Another Dig Record: Trish Ladusaw is on the verge of becoming Conference USAís career digs leader. Ladusaw now has 1,819 career digs, just 27 behind C-USA record holder Stephanie Bishop (DePaul, 1998-2001). On the UC digs chart, Ladusaw shattered the mark of 1,303 set by Becky Tenkman from 1995-98.
New Venue: Due to the Presidentís Ball in the Shoemaker Center on Oct. 19, the Bearcats matches against East Carolina (Oct. 18) and Charlotte (Oct. 20) have been moved to Laurence Hall. Start times for both matches will remain the same.
Regionally Speaking: The first NCAA regional rankings find the Bearcats ranked fourth in the midwest region. C-USA foes Louisville and South Florida top the list, with Loyola ranked third.
Turning Up the D: A key to Cincinnatiís success this season, has been their ability to keep teams under. 200 hitting. The Bearcats have won all nine matches in which they have done that this year, after posting a 17-2 mark last season.
Newellís Explosion: After averaging 1.92 kills per game with a .192 hitting percentage in the seasonís first four matches and then missing five straight contests due to injury, sophomore Leslie Newell has turned up her play over the last six matches. Since returning to action against Gonzaga on Sept. 20, Newell has carded 2.61 kills per game and hit .366 during that period. Included in that span was a career-best 22 kills, with only two errors in 32 attempts (.625), against Marquette. Newell now ranks sixth in Conference USA with a .312 hitting percentage.
Block Party: The Bearcats threw another block party over the weekend to continue their run as the top blocking team in Conference USA. After recording seven blocks in the three-game win over DePaul, the Bearcats matched their season-best with 16 blocks against Marquette. As a team, the Bearcats average 2.87 blocks per game. Individually, Rachel Torblaa and Julie DuPont each matched season-highs with 10 and eight blocks, respectively.
Strength in Defeat: As good as Julie DuPont has performed this season, it is interesting to note that her numbers in many statistical categories are actually better in Cincinnati defeats. In the Bearcats nine victories this season, DuPont has carded 5.43 kills and 2.83 digs per game, while hitting .258. The six Cincinnati defeats have seen DuPont post 5.46 kils and 2.83 digs per game, with a .210 hitting percentage.
Coming on Strong: After 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 nine matches, seven of them UC wins, Wise is hitting .324 and averaging 3.94 kills, 2.64 digs and 1.06 blocks a game while getting 10 or more kills in all nine matches.
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 teams have gone 85-24 for a .780 winning percentage, ranking third in wins and winning percentage, trailing Louisville and South Florida. The Bearcats have now won 46 of their last 55 matches against C-USA opponents. Five of the nine losses have been to Louisville.
Unstoppable: Sophomore OH Julie DuPont has been nothing short of outstanding this season. She has led the Bearcats in kills in all but one match, averaging 5.44 kills per game. DuPont has surpassed the 20-kill mark eight times with eight or more digs 12 times and four or more blocks eight 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.
Torblaaís 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 1.44 blocks a game with five or more blocks in eight matches, including 10 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette. Her offensive output this year has been an added bonus. Torblaa is hitting .207 with 2.20 kills a game, carding eight or more kills in nine matches.
Outstanding Individual Efforts: Despite the Bearcatsí 9-6 record, they rank in the top three in C-USA in four statistical categories and have four 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 13.07 assists per game, Rachel Torblaa is recording 1.44 blocks per game and Julie DuPont is tops in kills per game at 5.44. The key to the below average start and the recent resurgence may be UCís ranking in both hitting percentage and opponentsí hitting percentage. After ranking 12th in both categories three weeks ago, the Bearcats are now ranked fourth ands eighth, respectively.
Tackling Ranked Foes: The Bearcats win over then No. 25 Colorado State on Sept. 21 was UCís 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 Bearcatsí win at No. 22 Louisville on Oct. 10, 2001 was their first ever over a nationally-ranked team.
Bearcats in the NCAA Rankings: After finishing last season ranked among the nationís best Laura Lauder and Trish Ladusaw are again ranked nationally in assists and digs, respectively, being joined by two teammates on the lists. As of the matches of Sept. 29, Ladusaw was fourth in NCAA Division I, averaging 4.91 digs a game, and Lauder was 14th in assists per game with 13.00. Julie DuPont ranked 12th in the nation in kills per game with a 5.46 average and Rachel Torblaa was 20th in blocks, carding 1.43 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 UCís 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 on the NCAA Digs Chart: Trish Ladusawís career digs per game average of 4.38 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.
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.
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.
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 coachesí 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.
Wiseís Solid Hitting: Bonita Wiseís outing against Austin Peay was truly impressive. 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 at the time, with a minimum of 20 attempts. Annisa Blosser tops the charts with a .793 match in 1994.
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. UCís 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.
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).
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.