CINCINNATI, Ohio ? After winning two non-conference matches last week, the University of Cincinnati volleyball team (11-6, 2-1 Conference USA) returns to action this weekend with a pair of C-USA home tilts. The Bearcats will host East Carolina on Friday, Oct. 18 at 7 p.m., before facing Charlotte on Sunday, Oct. 20 at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played in Laurence Gym.
The Bearcats, winners of nine of their last 10 matches and four straight, are tied for fifth in C-USA with Houston, just a game and a half out of first place.
East Carolina visits on Friday with a 4-14 record and is last in C-USA at 0-4. The Pirates have dropped nine of their last 12 matches, including four in a row. They face North Carolina in a non-conference match on Tuesday night.
Charlotte is 12-9 overall and 3-1 in C-USA play, just one-half game out of first place. The 49ers have won four of their last six and Louisville on Friday night before coming to Cincinnati.
About the Bearcats: Sophomore Julie DuPont has become the leader of the Bearcat offense this season, averaging a team-best 5.30 kills per game while hitting .238. Senior Bonita Wise has also been hot as of late, hitting .347 and carding nearly four kills per game over her last 11 matches.
Defensively, Cincinnati is led by senior Trish Ladusaw, the new C-USA career digs leader with 1,846, who is averaging 4.87 digs per game this season. The Bearcats also lead the conference in blocks per game with 2.96, with Rachel Torblaa ranked second individually at 1.43 per game.
About East Carolina: East Carolina is 4-14 overall and 0-4 this season, having dropped nine of it?s previous 12 matches, including four in a row. Robyn Drewes is the leader of the Pirate offense, averaging 3.02 kills per game, while hitting a team-best .267. Defensively, Johanna Bertini averages 2.73 digs per game, while Pam Ferris is close behind at 2.07. The Pirates face North Carolina in a non-conference tilt on Tuesday evening.
About Charlotte: The 49ers are 12-9 this season and 3-1 in Conference USA, just one-half game out of second place. Charlotte has won four of it?s last six matches, behind a balanced offense that features five players averaging over two kills per game. Courtney Burg is the leader at 3.62 kills per game, while Jessica Kelly is hitting a team-best .318 with 2.12 kills per game. The 49ers have been solid defensively, as they lead the conference in opponents hitting percentage at .170.
New Venue: Due to the President?s 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. The Bearcats have not played an official match in Laurence since Nov. 3, 1996 when they fell to Houston in five games. Chrissy Smith and Becky Tenkman each had 20 kills that day for UC.
Last Time Out: Game 16 - UC 3, Eastern Kentucky 0: The Bearcats hit a season-best .417 en route to a three-game sweep of Eastern Kentucky. Bonita Wise led three players in double-figure kills with 12, hitting .588. Julie DuPont and Trish Ladusaw added 11 kills each in the win. Game 17 - UC 3, George Mason 0: Trish Ladusaw carded 18 kills and 18 digs, securing the Conference USA record for career digs with 1,846 in Cincinnati?s three-game victory. Julie DuPont and Bonita Wise each added double-doubles in the victory.
Last Time vs. East Carolina: Trish Ladusaw registered 13 kills and 14 digs and Bonita Wise added 13 kills as the Bearcats swept East Carolina in three games on Nov. 2, 2001.
Last Time vs. Charlotte: Sept. 21, 2001 marked the final time the Bearcats would lose for nearly three months as the 49ers took a four-game win in Charlotte. The Bearcats went on to win 16 straight matches after the Charlotte defeat. Becky Stahl led the UC attack with 25 kills and 10 digs, but also committed 13 errors in the loss. Bonita Wise added 19 kills in the match, while Trish Ladusaw posted a double-double with 10 kills and 15 digs.
Bearcats In Regional Rankings: Cincinnati is ranked fourth in the Midwest region in the first NCAA regional rankings of the 2002 season. Conference USA members Louisville and South Florida are rated first and second, with Loyola (Illinois) third. Cincinnati finished second in the Midwest in the final 2001 regional rankings. The Bearcats reached No. 1 for the first time in 2000 and finished the year ranked third.
Ladusaw New C-USA Digs Queen: Trish Ladusaw became the Conference USA?s career digs leader in Sunday?s win over George Mason. Ladusaw now has 1,846 career digs, bettering Stephanie Bishop?s (DePaul, 1998-2001) mark of 1,842. On the UC digs chart, Ladusaw shattered the mark of 1,303 set by Becky Tenkman from 1995-98.
Turning Up the D: A key to Cincinnati?s success this season, has been their ability to keep teams under. 200 hitting. The Bearcats have won all 11 matches in which they have done that this year and are 28-2 over the last two seasons. Cincinnati also established a school record against Eastern Kentucky for fewest points allowed in match (50) since 30-point rally scoring was introuduced last year.
Newell?s Explosion: After averaging 1.92 kills per game with a .192 hitting percentage in the season?s first four matches and then missing five straight contests due to injury, sophomore Leslie Newell has turned up her play over the last eight matches. Since returning to action against Gonzaga on Sept. 20, Newell has carded 2.55 kills per game and hit .361, while adding 0.97 blocks per game during that period. Included in that span was a career-best 22 kills, with only two errors in 32 attempts (.625), against Marquette. The .625 hitting performance ranks as the fifth-best in school history, with a minimum of 20 attempts. Annisa Blosser tops the the charts with a .793 match in 1994. Newell now ranks seventh in Conference USA with a .317 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. The Bearcats recorded 13.5 blocks against George Mason, after posting nine against Eastern Kentucky. As a team, the Bearcats average 2.96 blocks per game. Individually, Bonita Wise matched the team season-high with 10 blocks against George Mason.
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 11 victories this season, DuPont has carded 5.30 kills and 2.87 digs per game, while hitting .238. The six Cincinnati defeats have seen DuPont post 5.46 kills 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 11 matches, nine of them UC wins, Wise is hitting .347 and averaging 3.95 kills, 2.62 digs and 1.23 blocks a game while getting 10 or more kills in all 11 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 5.30 kills per game. DuPont has surpassed the 20-kill mark eight times with eight or more digs 13 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 blocks in nine matches, including 10 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette. Her offensive output this year has been an added bonus. Torblaa is hitting .222 with 2.17 kills a game, carding eight or more kills in nine matches.
Outstanding Individual Efforts: After a slow start, the Bearcats have rebounded to win nine of their last 11 matches, thanks to a group of players near the top of the Conference USA statistics. Trish Ladusaw is tops in C-USA for the third-straight year with 4.87 digs per game, while Laura Lauder is averaging a league-best 13.23 assists per game. In addition, Rachel Torblaa is recording 1.43 blocks per game, good for second and Julie DuPont is fourth in kills per game with 5.30. 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 early in the season, the Bearcats are now ranked third and fourth, 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: After finishing last season ranked among the nation?s best Laura Lauder and Trish Ladusaw are again ranked nationally in assists and digs, respectively, being joined by two teammates on the lists. Ladusaw is fourth in the nation averaging 4.91 digs a game, and Lauder is 14th in assists per game with 13.07. Julie DuPont ranked 11th in the nation in kills per game with a 5.44 average and Rachel Torblaa was 21st in blocks, carding 1.44 per game. The statistics are through matches played Oct. 6.
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 on the NCAA Digs Chart: Trish Ladusaw?s 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 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.
Wise?s Solid Hitting: Bonita Wise?s outing against Austin Peay was truly impressive. Wise hit .600 against the Lady Govs, registering 15 kills, with no errors in 25 swings. This season, Wise has registered five matches hitting over .400, with three performances of at least 10 kills and zero errors.
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.