Women's Volleyball |
Nov. 22, 2009
BIG EAST TOURNAMENT: With wins over seventh-seeded Connecticut and sixth-seeded USF, Cincinnati advanced to the BIG EAST Volleyball Championship match where it will face fourth-seeded Louisville in an ESPNU nationally-televised contest on Sunday, Nov. 22, at 3 p.m., at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Ky. The championship appearance marks the first for UC since joining the BIG EAST in 2005, while Louisville has made five consecutive conference championship game appearances since joining the BIG EAST and 12 consecutive conference championship game appearances overall.
UC IN THE BIG EAST TOURNEY: Since joining the BIG EAST in 2005, Cincinnati has made five consecutive BIG EAST Tournaments. UC is 3-4 all-time at the BIG EAST Tournament, but the Bearcats and Cardinals have not met in BIG EAST Tournament play. Despite not playing each other in BIG EAST Tournament play, Cincinnati is 2-5 all-time against Louisville in conference tournaments spanning back to when both teams played in both Conference USA and the Metro Conference. One of Cincinnati’s wins came in the 1999 Conference USA Tournament Championship match, where UC defeated Louisville 3-1.
ABOUT THE CARDINALS: Louisville enters the BIG EAST Championship match with a 19-10 overall record. The Cardinals have won five consecutive matches, including defeating No. 23 Notre Dame in the BIG EAST semifinals. U of L is led offensively by BIG EAST Freshman of the Year Lola Arslanbekova, who averages 4.26 kills per set. The Cardinals are also one of the top blocking teams in the BIG EAST sending back 2.89 balls per set.
THE SERIES WITH LOUISVILLE: Sunday’s meeting between UC and Louisville will be the 47th meeting all-time between the schools with Louisville owning a 29-17 edge in the series. Cincinnati has won the last two meetings, including a 3-0 win on Oct. 23 at Fifth Third Arena.
CHAMPIONSHIP SNAPSHOT: In two matches at the 2009 BIG EAST Championships, the Bearcats are hitting .307 as a team and averaging 15.29 kps. UC is led by junior Stephanie Niemer and freshman Emily Hayden, who are averaging 4.43 kps and 3.29 kps, respectively. Hayden is also leading the squad hitting at a .583 clip (23-2-36). Freshman Jordanne Scott is third on the team in kills, but leads in the team in blocking averaging 1.43 bps.
TRIO TAKES HOME ALL-CONFERENCE HONORS: At the annual BIG EAST Volleyball banquet, juniors Annie Fesl and Stephanie Niemer and sophomore Missy Harpenau were selected as all-conference performers. Niemer and Fesl were first-team all-BIG EAST selections, while Harpenau was a second-team selection. Niemer was a unanimous first-team selection and is now a three-time all-conference selection after earning first-team distinction last season and second-team honors in 2007. Fesl joined Niemer on the first team, marking the second year in a row that UC has had two representatives earn first-team all-conference honors. For the first time in her career, Harpenau earned all-conference distinction after being named to the second team. Harpenau leads the Bearcats with 12 kill-dig double-doubles and leads the squad in digs, while ranking second on the team in kills.
DEFENDING HOME: With three-set wins over Connecticut and St. John’s on Nov. 14 and Nov. 15, respectively, Cincinnati extended its home winning streak to 27 matches. The previous school record for consecutive home wins was 23 matches, which spanned from Nov. 17, 2002 to Oct. 24, 2004. The Bearcats’ home winning streak dates back to 2007, where Cincinnati won its final two home matches of the season, before going 14-0 at home last season and 11-0 this season. The Bearcats own the second longest home winning streak in the country, trailing only the No. 1 team in the country and back-to-back National Champions Penn State Nittany Lions. Below are the three longest home winning streaks in the country.
Team.................. Home Court Consecutive Home Wins
Penn State ........... Rec Hall............................. 70
Cincinnati ............. Fifth Third Arena................. 27
North Dakota St. .. Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse... 19
20-10: With a three-set win over USF on Sunday, Nov. 8, Cincinnati won its 20th game of the season, marking the ninth time that UC has reached the 20-win plateau under the direction of 10th-year head coach Reed Sunahara. UC has a 24-9 overall record and a 12-2 BIG EAST record. The 12 wins equal last year’s mark for the most conference wins since joining the BIG EAST in 2005.
FESL MOVES INTO ELITE COMPANY: In the second set of Cincinnati’s three-set win over UConn on Nov. 14, junior Annie Fesl surpassed 4,000 assists for her career. Fesl is just the third player in program history to eclipse 4,000 assists, joining Laura Lauder (2000-2003), and Noel Olsen (2003-06).
NATIONAL RANKINGS: In the most recent release of NCAA statistics, two UC players rank in the Top 35 nationally in four statistical categories. Junior Annie Fesl leads the way ranking 15th in the country in assists per set (11.36), which also ranks first in the BIG EAST. Additionally, fellow junior Stephanie Niemer ranks in the Top 35 nationally in three statistical categories. Niemer ranks 22nd in the nation in points per set (4.89), 29th in the nation in service aces per set (0.43 sa/s), and 32nd in kills per set (4.20 kps).
X-FACTOR: One of the keys to success for Cincinnati this season has been its serving. In wins, UC is averaging 1.75 service aces per set compared to just 0.92 sa/s in losses. In its 24 wins, Cincinnati has collected 142 of the team’s 176 service aces and the Bearcats have recorded at least four service aces in 21 of its 24 wins. On the other hand, the Bearcats have tallied fewer than four service aces in five of its nine losses. In wins, junior Stephanie Niemer and sophomore Missy Harpenau have combined for 82 of the team’s 142 service aces (57.7 percent). Nationally, the duo of Niemer and Harpenau also rank 29th and 49th, respectively, in service aces per set.