Women's Volleyball |
Oct. 17, 2007
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FIRST SERVE: Cincinnati will try to get back on track and snap a three-match losing streak when the Bearcats take on arch nemesis Louisville on Saturday, Oct. 20. The match, set for a 2 p.m. start, will take place at U of L's Cardinal Arena. The Bearcats, after winning seven in a row, have now dropped three straight to slip into a tie for fourth in the BIG EAST at 14-7 overall and 5-3 in league play. Louisville is seated atop the BIG EAST standings with a perfect 8-0 mark and is 14-4 after defeating Tennessee on Tuesday night.
NOTING THE BEARCATS:
The Bearcats are led by two-time honorable mention all-American Jessie Nevitt, who ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in hitting and blocks. The junior is fifth in blocks (1.39 per game) and fourth in hitting (.342).
Three freshmen-setter Annie Fesl, outside hitter Stephanie Niemer and middle blocker Lindsay Upton-are staples in the Bearcats' starting line-up. The trio is combining for 5.59 kills, 3.72 digs, 0.89 aces and 1.57 blocks per game this season, while Fesl is averaging 13.25 assists per game.
Nevitt is making a charge towards becoming the second player in UC history with 1,000 career kills and 500 career blocks, a feat accomplished only by current assistant coach Myanna Hellsten. Nevitt enters the week with 982 kills and 442 blocks.
The Bearcats will be trying to snap a five-match losing streak to Louisville that extends back to 2003. UC last beat U of L in Cardinal Arena on Oct. 10, 2001.
Cincinnati is one of the top serving teams in the BIG EAST, ranking third with 1.79 aces per game. Niemer and senior Jenny Custer are the leaders, ranking second and ninth in the BIG EAST, respectively in aces. Custer is one of the top servers in school history, ranking fourth in career aces with 149.
Niemer's 29 kills against Seton Hall on Oct. 14 were the second-most by a BIG EAST freshman this year and represented the fourth-best mark nationally. The count is the most by a Bearcat since Julie DuPont registered 33 at Butler on Sept. 25, 2004.
In Cincinnati's match at Seton Hall on Sunday, the Bearcats set a school record for team hitting percentage in a five-game match with a .376 mark. UC eclipsed the previous best of .286 established against UAB in 1994.
In just her first year as a Bearcat, freshman setter Fesl is already ranked among the top setters in program history. With 1,007 assists this year, Fesl is ranked ninth on UC's career list.
NOTING THE CARDINALS:
The Cardinals have won 10 straight matches to take control of the BIG EAST standings at 8-0. Louisville's win over Tennessee on Tuesday night improved the squad's mark to 14-4 on the year.
Louisville is led offensively by 6-6 junior Jana Matiasovska who is fifth in the BIG EAST with 4.02 kills per game and sophomore setter Samantha Dabbs, a preseason all-BIG EAST selection.
U of L leads the nation in blocking with 4.17 per game, including 2.17 per game by sophomore Lecia Brown.
TRYING FOR THREE STRAIGHT: Junior Jessie Nevitt is making a push for her third straight all-American honor with her play in 2007. A look at some of Nevitt's accomplishments this season:
Ranks among the BIG EAST leaders in hitting percentage (4th-.342) and blocks per game (5th-1.39), while leading the Bearcats in kills per game with 3.66.
Named MVP of the State Farm Bearcats Invitational and to the all-tournament team at the Panther Invitational.
Tabbed BIG EAST Player of the Week on Aug. 27 and to the weekly honor roll on Sept. 3 and Sept. 10.
Recorded a career-high 21 kills in just three games in UC's win over Bradley (Sept. 7). Has double figure kills in 17 of the Bearcats' 21 matches this season.
Has 14 performances of at least five blocks in a match, including a season-best nine at Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Sept. 7) and again vs. St. John's (Oct. 7). Nevitt had six blocks in game one of the St. John's match alone.
Became the 19th player in program history with 900 career kills during UC's win over USF (Sept. 23).
Cracked the Top 10 on the UC career block assists (6th-387) and total blocks (9th-442) charts.
Is on the fast track to becoming the second UC player ever with 1,000 kills and 500 blocks in her career. Nevitt holds current totals of 982 kills and 442 blocks.
HOME COURT HEROES: Cincinnati has enjoyed a strong home court advantage since the opening of Fifth Third Arena in 1989. In the 17-plus years the building has been in existence, the Bearcats have posted a 155-60 (.721) record at home and are 90-13 (.874) since Reed Sunahara took over as head coach in 2000. The Bearcats ended last year with a 13-2 home mark and are 7-2 at home this season, with their only losses coming to No. 2 Stanford (Sept. 12) and No. 18 St. John's (Oct. 7).
MAKING A FIRST IMPRESSION: The Bearcats' freshmen trio of Annie Fesl, Stephanie Niemer and Lindsay Upton have made quite the first impression during their first season of collegiate competition. A look at each's first taste of college:
Fesl has won a BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award (Sept. 3) and is ranked second in the league with 13.25 assists per game. Against TCU on Sept. 1 and again vs. Seton Hall on Oct. 14, Fesl finished with a career high 69 assists. Her first career match against Southern Miss on Aug. 24 was a good one, as she finished just three assists shy of a UC three-game record with 55 assists. Through matches of Oct. 14, Fesl is listed 11th nationally in assists per game.
Niemer also has a BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award (Sept. 24) and ranks second on the team with 3.58 kills per game. In the last month (a span of 13 matches) the Erlanger, Ky. native has double figure kills in all but one contest and is averaging 4.00 kills per game. Niemer posted a career-high and the fourth-highest total by a freshman in the nation this season with 29 at Seton Hall on Oct. 14. She has also been outstanding from the service line, holding the team lead with 37 aces (including seven at Villanova on Oct. 13) and ranking second in the BIG EAST with 0.49 per game.
Upton cracked the starting six against Maryland on Aug. 25 and has been a solid player in the middle opposite of Jessie Nevitt. She has reached double figures in kills six times and is averaging 1.75 kills, 0.64 digs and 0.63 blocks per game. Twice this year, Upton has tallied a career-high with 12 kills offensively and six blocks at the net.
ON THE HORIZON: If all goes according to plan, head coach Reed Sunahara will add another milestone to his coaching resume this season. Now in his eighth-year as the Bearcat boss, Sunahara needs just six more victories to reach 200 for his career. Already the winningest coach in program history, Sunahara has guided UC to four NCAA Tournament appearances and three conference regular season titles.
BACK ON TRACK: After a recent cold stretch that included less than half a dozen kills in three of seven matches, junior Jessica Elley has gotten back recently. In the last five matches, Elley averaging 3.29 kills, 2.52 digs and 0.76 blocks per game, while hitting .287. Elley had one of her best performances of the year in UC's win over Connecticut, contributing a season-high 17 kills on .484 hitting, while adding 13 digs and four blocks.
PLAYER TO COACH: A familiar face has joined head coach Reed Sunahara on the bench this year as four-year starter Myanna Hellsten is now as an assistant coach. During her career, Hellsten was a two-time all-conference performer and was the only UC player ever with 1,000 kills and 500 career blocks. Hellsten will continue the trend of former Bearcats on the sideline, following in the shoes of the late Stephanie (Meinig) Rosfeld and Chrissy Smith.