CINCINNATI, Ohio —The Cincinnati Bearcats (21-8, 11-2 Conference USA) will try to solidify their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes by participating in the second annual Conference USA/Atlantic 10 Challenge, hosted by the University of Dayton. Cincinnati will face the host Flyers (22-7) on Friday, Nov. 29 at 7 p.m., before squaring off with crosstown rival Xavier (16-14) on Saturday, Nov. 30 at 2 p.m. Both matches will be played in Dayton’s Frericks Center.
The Bearcats advanced to the semifinals of last week’s Healthy Choice Conference USA Tournament with a sweep of Charlotte, before falling to eventual tournament champion South Florida. Bonita Wise was named to the all-tournament team and leads the Bearcats with a .358 hitting percentage, carding 3.60 kills, 2.24 digs and 1.11 blocks per game.
Dayton features four All-Atlantic-10 performers, led by Erin Treadway, who was also named to the A-10 All-Tournament team. Xavier has dropped seven of their last nine contests, including an A-10 Tournament semifinal contest to Temple. Freshman Meggie Hoffman leads the Musketeers offense with 3.61 kills per game.
About the Bearcats: On the heels of a 12-match winning streak, the Bearcats have split their last four contests, with both losses coming to South Florida. Cincinnati advanced to the Conference USA Tournament semifinals, after sweeping Charlotte in the quarterfinals. In the tournament semifinals, South Florida rallied from a late deficit in game three to win a four-game tilt. Julie DuPont leads the Bearcats in kills with 5.13 kills per game, while Bonita Wise adds 3.60 with a team-best .358 hitting percentage. Defensively, the Bearcats boast the top player in the conference in both digs and blocks. Three-time C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Trish Ladusaw is atop the digs list with 4.65 per game, while Rachel Torblaa leads C-USA in blocks with 1.52 per game.
About Dayton: The Flyers are 22-7 this season after falling to George Washington in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament over the weekend. Dayton had won seven in a row before dropping its regular season finale to Temple and then falling in the A-10 Tournament. The Flyers feature three all-conference performers, led by Erin Treadway who has notched team-highs in kills (4.36) and digs (3.16) per game this year. Susan Westbrook adds 3.86 kills per game, while hitting a team-high .363. Shannon Gardner also received All A-10 accolades after carding 2.58 kills and 1.20 blocks per game this year. This marks the 35th match between the two schools, with Cincinnati holding a slight 17-16-1 advantage. The Bearcats have won three straight contests and four of the last five, after dropping four consecutive in the mid-1990s.
About Xavier: Xavier is 16-14 this year, but have dropped seven of their last nine, including an Atlantic 10 Tournament semifinal loss to Temple. The Musketeers have four all-conference performers on their roster including Katey Wygant, who ranked second on the squad in kills (3.55) and digs (2.57) per game. Kimberly Cockerel also garnered All A-10 acclaim, leading the team with a .336 hitting percentage and adding 2.82 kills and 0.99 blocks per game. Freshman Meggie Hoffman was named to the conference’s all-rookie team, after leading the Muskies with 3.61 kills per game. Cincinnati swept both of last season’s matches, after dropping the previous three and own a 19-8 lead in the all-time series.
Last Time Out: Match 28 - UC 3, Charlotte 0: Bonita Wise matched a Conference USA Tournament record by hitting .750 as the Bearcats swept Charlotte in the tournament’s quarterfinals. Wise had 13 kills and just one error in 16 attempts, while Trish Ladusaw added 13 kills and Julie DuPont chipped in with 11.
Match 29 - South Florida 3, UC 1: Conference USA Player of the Year Michelle Collier registered 31 kills and hit a blistering .393 as South Florida eliminated the Bearcats from the C-USA Tournament. Cincinnati had a chance to go up two game to one, but could not hold a late seven-point lead in game three, before going on to drop game four.
Last Time vs. Dayton: Nov. 23, 2001-Julie DuPont had 16 kills and Becky Stahl added 14 as the Bearcats swept the Flyers in a three-game match at the Conference USA/Atlantic 10 Challenge. Trish Ladusaw had 18 digs to lead a defense that held Dayton to just an .063 hitting percentage.
Last Time vs. Xavier: Nov. 30, 2001-After facing the Musketeers just six days prior in the regular season finale, Cincinnati and Xavier met again in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Bonita Wise led four players in double-figure kills with 18 as the Bearcats won the four-game match. Cincinnati freshmen combo of Julie DuPont and Becky Stahl had 17 and 16 kills, respectively, while Trish Ladusaw added 11.
Beating Xavier: The women’s tennis 4-3 win over Xavier on Oct. 17 extended Cincinnati’s all-sport unbeaten streak over its Queen City rival to 11 straight games going back to the spring of 2001. The stretch includes a pair of victories by baseball, volleyball (including a win in the NCAA Tournament) and women’s tennis, a win and a tie by men’s soccer, and single victories by men’s basketball, women’s basketball and women’s soccer. The UC athletic trainers even got into the act on Oct. 27, claiming the annual touch football game against the Muskies for a fourth straight year with a 27-14 decision to win the travelling trophy, The Box of Tape.
Bearcats In Regional Rankings: Cincinnati is ranked third in the Midwest region in the fifth NCAA regional rankings of the 2002 season. The Bearcats trail only Conference USA members South Florida and Louisville in the rankings. 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.
Wise Named All-Tournament: For the second year in a row and third time in her career, Bonita Wise was named to the Conference USA All-Tournament team. Wise led the Bearcats with team bests of 4.29 kills per game, while hitting .474. She was joined on the squad by South Florida’s Michelle Collier, Ale Domingos and Shameka Mitchell and Louisville’s Stacey Mercer and Bing Sun.
Athletic Honors: Senior Bonita Wise headlined a list of four Bearcats named to the All-Conference USA team, earning a spot on the first team. In addition, senior Trish Ladusaw was awarded an unprecedented third straight C-USA Defensive Player of the Year honor, also earning a spot on the all-conference second team. Joining the two seniors on the list of honorees were sophomore Julie DuPont on the second team and junior Laura Lauder on the third team.
Academic Honors: Two Bearcats were honored for excellence both on and off the court, as Julie DuPont and Trish Ladusaw were named to the Verizon Academic All-District team. DuPont was named to the first team, reserving a spot on the ballot for Academic All-America consideration, while Ladusaw garnered third team honors. DuPont is a communications disorders major carrying a 3.93 GPA, while Ladusaw is a marketing major with a 3.59 GPA. To qualify for these teams, students must hold at least a 3.2 GPA and be either a starter or key reserve for their team. The Academic All-America team will be announced on Dec. 5.
Senior Farewell: The Nov. 17 match against UAB marked the final home appearance for one of the most decorated senior classes in program history. Trish Ladusaw and Bonita Wise have combined for seven all-conference honors in their career, while rewriting portions of the UC record book. Ladusaw and Wise have led the Bearcats to a 96-33 (.744 winning percentage) record in their four years.
Ladusaw on the NCAA Digs Chart: Trish Ladusaw’s career digs per game average of 4.38 ranks sixth in NCAA 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. Trina Maso de Moya (4.56) of Wake Forest, Kylie Hunter of Chattanooga (4.44) and Nia Kiggundu of Louisiana-Lafayette (4.41) complete the top five.
A Short Lived Record: With 13 kills and only one error in 16 attempts in the Conference USA Tournament win over Charlotte, Bonita Wise matched a tournament record with a .750 hitting percentage, shared with two other players. That record was short lived, though as South Florida setter Ale Domingos established a new mark with her six kill, zero errors in seven attempts (.857) performance in the tournament finals against Louisville.
...And More of Wise’s Solid Hitting: Bonita Wise’s outing against Austin Peay on Sept. 14 was truly impressive. Wise hit .600 against the Lady Govs, registering 15 kills, with no errors in 25 swings. The senior was also strong against East Carolina, hitting a then season-best .611, notching 12 kills in 18 attempts, with only one error. In a two-match swing to Texas Nov. 8-10, Wise hit a combined .516, including a stellar 19 kill, zero error performance against Houston. This season Wise has registered 12 matches hitting over .400, with three performances of at least eight kills and zero errors.
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 second in block assists, third in blocks and fourth 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.
More Freshmen Contributions: An important ingredient in the Bearcats’ success this season has been a steady contribution from the freshmen trio of Lindsey Garrison, Maddie Barron and Haley King. Garrison has started all but one match at libero, while Barron has been a starter in 16 contests this season. Garrison is fourth on the team in digs per game with 2.11, while Barron is fifth with 2.01 per game. In addition, Barron is tied for second on the team in service aces with 19. King replaced an injured Leslie Newell in the starting lineup earlier this season, earning her first collegiate start against Saint Louis and posting a career-high six kills at TCU. The Bearcats have featured the last three of the last Conference USA Freshman of the Year honorees, while placing at least one player on the All-Freshmen Team in four of the last five years.
Outstanding Individual Efforts: After a slow start, the Bearcats have rebounded to win 19 of their last 22 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 4.65 digs per game, while Rachel Torblaa is first with 1.52 blocks per game. In addition, Laura Lauder is second with 13.19 assists per game, Bonita Wise is second in hitting percentage (.358) and fifth in blocks (1.11). Julie DuPont ranks fifth in kills per game with 5.13 and Leslie Newell is ninth in hitting percentage at .297.
Chasing History: With 2,024 digs, Trish Ladusaw is fourth on the NCAA career digs list. Against UAB on Nov. 17, Ladusaw became just the eighth player in NCAA history to record 2,000 career digs. She has a realistic chance of taking the number two spot by season’s end. Former Evansville standout Julie Groves holds that spot with 2,055 digs, while Nia Kiggundu of Lousiana-Lafayette is third with 2,043, just 19 ahead of Ladusaw. Margie Kolat of Arkansas State holds the record with 2,291 digs.
The Big Four?: With teammates Julie DuPont, Trish Ladusaw and Bonita Wise making most of the offensive headlines this season, Rachel Torblaa is putting together a very productive season. After carding a career high 18 kills in the Nov. 1 win over Memphis, Torblaa ranks fourth on the team with 2.31 kills per game, while hitting .270. Torblaa, who has eight double digit kills matches this season, has hit .400 or better in eight matches this season, all Cincinnati wins. By playing in her 151st career game over the weekend, Torblaa now qualifies for the school career charts, where she ranks sixth in hitting percentage at a .260 clip.
A Familiar Face: The Nov. 11 edition of Sports Illustrated featured a familiar face to Bearcat volleyball followers as senior Trish Ladusaw was profiled in the “Faces in the Crowd” section. Ladusaw received mention in the section after breaking the Conference USA career digs record.
Another Player, Another Milestone: With teammates Bonita Wise and Trish Ladusaw having already rewritten the UC record books, setter Laura Lauder is quietly doing the same thing. In the Oct. 26 win over Southern Miss, Lauder became the Bearcats’ all-time leader in career assists. With 4,252 assists in nearly three seasons, Lauder passed Paige Pees, who racked up 3,851 from 1988-91. A closer look at the numbers show that Lauder gathered the record in far fewer matches than Pees, as she has played in 85, compared to 132 for Pees. In Conference USA annals, Lauder’s total ranks as the seventh-highest in conference history.
Getting It Done: Three times this season and four times in her career, Julie DuPont has come up just short of recording the fourth triple-double in school history. In the Nov. 1 win over Memphis, DuPont scored a match-high 24 kills, 13 digs and eight blocks, missing the feat by just two blocks. This comes after coming up one dig and two blocks short against Marquette and three blocks shy versus Nevada earlier this season.
Bearcats in Conference USA: In the seven years of C-USA play, the Bearcats have gone 94-25 for a .790 winning percentage, ranking third in both, trailing only Louisville and South Florida. The Bearcats have now won 55 of their last 65 matches against C-USA opponents. Five of the 10 losses have been to Louisville.
Vast Improvement: For the second straight year, Cincinnati opened the season 2-5, before turning it around with a big stretch. After winning 16 in a row last year, the Bearcats won 17 of their next 18 after this year’s slow start. A look inside the numbers before and after the slow start:
During 2-5 Start During 17-1 Stretch
Kills/Game 16.00 16.83
Hitting Pct. .201 .281
Opp. Hitting Pct. .244 .137
Assists/Game 13.96 15.06
Aces/Game 0.92 1.27
Digs/Game 16.12 17.67
Blocks/Game 3.06 3.13
Ladusaw The Queen of Digs: Trish Ladusaw became the Conference USA’s career digs leader in the Sept. 13 win over George Mason. Ladusaw now has 2,024 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 20 matches in which they have done that this year and are 37-2 over the last two seasons. Cincinnati established a school record against Eastern Kentucky for fewest points allowed in a match (50) since 30-point rally scoring was introduced last year. Another key element to winning is UC’s improvement in opponents’ hitting percentage. After ranking 12th in the category early in the season, the Bearcats are now ranked third, holding opponents to a .176 clip. In the last 16 matches, 14 of them Cincinnati wins, the Bearcats have held all but three of their opponents under .200 hitting, including holding East Carolina to a season-low .032, UAB to .036 and Saint Louis to an .041 clip.
Stepping It Up: After the first seven matches of the season, four-time all-conference performer Bonita Wise was hitting just .258, averaging 2.80 kills per game and had double-figure kills in only four matches as UC went 2-5. In the next 18 matches, 17 of them UC wins, Wise hit .373 and averaged 3.90 kills, 2.71 digs and 1.25 blocks a game while getting 10 or more kills in all 18 matches.
Newell’s Explosion: Nine matches into the season, sophomore Leslie Newell was injured and had hit just .192 for the season to that point. Following that stretch, Newell turned up her play over the next 14 matches, before getting injured on Nov. 1 against Memphis. During that span, Newell carded 2.43 kills per game and hit .361, while adding 1.00 blocks per game. 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 charts with a .793 match in 1994. Newell now is ninth in Conference USA with a .297 hitting percentage.
Block Party: The Bearcats hit a bit of a snag in their run as the top blocking team in Conference USA over the weekend, as they posted just 4.5 against Charlotte and four against South Florida. For the season, though, Cincinnati is averaging 2.96 blocks per game, which still ranks first in C-USA. Individually, Rachel Torblaa is leading C-USA and is eighth nationally with 1.56 blocks per game. Against Memphis on Nov. 1, Torblaa established a new career-high with 11 blocks.
Unstoppable: Sophomore OH Julie DuPont has been nothing short of outstanding this season. She has led the Bearcats in kills in all but four matches, averaging 5.13 kills per game. DuPont has surpassed the 20-kill mark 11 times with eight or more digs 19 times and four or more blocks 10 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 a conference-leading 1.52 blocks a game with five or more blocks in 17 matches, including a career-high 11 against Memphis. Her offensive output this year has been an added bonus. Torblaa is hitting .270 with 2.31 kills a game, carding eight or more kills in 14 matches.
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 eighth in the nation averaging 4.81 digs a game, and Lauder is 11th in assists per game with 13.33. Julie DuPont ranks 18th in the nation in kills per game with a 5.21 average and Rachel Torblaa is eighth in blocks, carding 1.56 per game. The statistics are through matches played Nov. 17.
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.
UC Picked Second in Preseason Poll: The defending Conference USA champion Bearcats were picked to finish second in 2002 in the coaches’ preseason poll, but fell to third by season’s end. Louisville, who finished one match behind UC last season, was picked to win the league and shared the regular season title with South Florida who was ranked third in the preseason.
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.
Bearcat Fan Wins Trip: Abby Mayer, a 12-year old Cincinnati girl was the winner of the free trip to the 2002 Healthy Choice Conference USA Tournament, courtesy of the conference. Mayer, who attends Finneytown Middle School and plays on the volleyball team, qualified for the drawing for the trip by hitting a special C-USA Tournament shirt during the serving contest at the intermission of a volleyball match at UC. Her name was then drawn at random from the list of qualifiers from all C-USA schools.