Women's Volleyball |
Oct. 22, 2007
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FIRST SERVE: Cincinnati will be out to snap a four-match losing streak, its longest in two seasons, when it steps out of BIG EAST play for a meeting at Wright State on Tuesday (Oct. 23). UC is 14-8 overall and holds onto the eighth and final spot in the run for the conference championship at 5-4. The Bearcats will be out to build on a seven-match winning streak over the Raiders. Wright State brings a 9-14 mark and a 6-5 record in the Horizon League.
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 third in blocks (1.41 per game) and fourth in hitting (.342). She ranks just outside the Top 10 in kills with 3.70 per game.
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 5.66 kills, 3.66 digs, 0.86 aces and 1.61 blocks per game this season, while Fesl is averaging 13.31 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 became the 13th player in school history to reach the 1,000 kill plateau at Louisville (Oct. 20) and has 449 blocks.
Cincinnati is one of the top serving teams in the BIG EAST, ranking third with 1.74 aces per game. Niemer and senior Jenny Custer are the leaders, ranking third and 10th in the BIG EAST, respectively in aces. Custer is one of the top servers in school history, ranking fourth in career aces with 149.
The Bearcats' four-match losing streak is the team's longest since losing four straight from Sept. 2-9, 2005.
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 just her first year as a Bearcat, freshman setter Fesl is already ranked among the top setters in program history. With 1,065 assists this year, Fesl is ranked ninth on UC's career list.
Niemer became UC's latest BIG EAST honoree on Oct. 22 when she earned a berth on the Weekly Honor Roll.
NOTING THE RAIDERS:
The Raiders have won four of their last six matches, including a sweep of Valparaiso on Saturday. Wright State is 9-14 overall and fourth in the Horizon League at 6-5.
A balanced Raider offense features three players averaging over two kills per game, including a team-best 2.96 by senior outside hitter Samantha Connor.
Defense is the Raiders' team strength as they lead the Horizon League with 2.75 blocks per game. Junior Lizzy Gunn and senior Tara Geegan lead the way with 1.33 and 1.12 per game, respectively.
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 (3rd-1.41), while placing just outside the Top 10 in kills per game with 3.70.
Became the 13th player in program history with 1,000 career kills during the Louisville match on Oct. 20.
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 18 of the Bearcats' 22 matches this season.
Has 15 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.
Cracked the Top 10 on the UC career block assists (T5th-393) and total blocks (9th-449) charts. Ranks fourth on the blocks per game list with 1.49.
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 1,000 kills and 449 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 13.31 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. Fesl has also done a solid job defensively with 1.94 digs and 0.55 blocks per game, including highs of 13 digs (twice) and five blocks (twice).
Niemer also has a BIG EAST Freshman of the Week award (Sept. 24) and ranks second on the team with 3.65 kills per game. In the last 14 matches, the Erlanger, Ky. native has double figure kills in all but one contest and is averaging 4.08 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 and has 20+ kills in three of UC's last five matches. 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 third in the BIG EAST with 0.47 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 1.73 kills, 0.67 digs and 0.62 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 3.24 kills, 2.60 digs and 0.64 blocks per game. 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.
CUSTER'S LAST STAND: Senior Jenny Custer has been a regular contributor during her Bearcat career and is having another solid campaign in 2007. This year, Custer is listed fourth on the Bearcats with 2.79 kills per game, while adding 1.81 digs and 0.60 blocks per game. She is also listed 10th in the BIG EAST with 0.37 service aces per game. In UC career annals, Custer has moved into fourth place on the service aces list with 149. Against Syracuse on Sept. 30, Custer finished with 19 kills on .417 hitting, missing her career-high of 22 set last year against the same Orange team.
UP NEXT: The Bearcats wrap up a five-match road swing with a Friday evening contest at Rutgers (3-15, 1-7 BIG EAST). The Bearcats then conclude the 2007 home schedule on Nov. 3-4, hosting Pittsburgh and West Virginia.