Saturday, December 01, 2001

UC spikes XU in NCAAs

Bearcats advance to second round against Ohio State

By Jarrod Ulrey
Special to the Enquirer

        COLUMBUS — Facing Xavier for the second time in less than a week, the Cincinnati women's volleyball team knew what to expect in Friday's NCAA Tournament opener at Ohio State University's St. John Arena — a hard-fought battle against a crosstown rival that had defeated it three of the last four times.

        The Bearcats got just that.

        After downing the Musketeers on Nov. 24 in its regular-season finale, Cincinnati won the first two games 30-27 before Xavier controlled the third game 30-17.

        The Bearcats led by as much as 12-5 in the fourth game before holding off a late rally to win 30-28 and take the match 3-1.

        UC advanced to a second-round match against Ohio State, which swept past Robert Morris 30-17, 30-16, 30-13. The Bearcats are 0-2 all time against the Buckeyes.

        Defeating Xavier gave UC its first-ever postseason victory.

        “The monkey's off our back, but Xavier's a great team and it was hard to beat them twice,” said Cincinnati coach Reed Sunahara, whose team improved to 17-8 against the Musketeers and is 23-7 overall this season. “I think we were lucky to win. When it's in a fifth-game situation, anything can happen. Thank God we weren't in that situation.”

        Cincinnati's offensive attack of Bonita Wise, Julie DuPont and Becky Stahl — the Conference USA Freshman of the Year — combined for 31 kills during the first two games.

        But the third game belonged to Xavier (25-6) as Katey Wygant had six kills and Kimberly Cockerel added four. The Musketeers led 17-14 and then scored 13 of the next 14 points to take a 28-15 advantage before winning the third game.

        “(A letdown like that) happens a lot to a team when they're up two games,” said Cincinnati junior Trish Ladusaw, who finished with 11 kills. Wise led the way with 18, followed by DuPont (17) and Stahl (16).

        “We knew we just had to calm down,” Ladusaw said. “We came out in the fourth game and got the momentum and ran with it.”

        “They came out on fire and we had a letdown,” Sunahara said. “They had the momentum. But we've been fighting all year, and I'm proud of my team. Even after we had the letdown, we came back and played strong.”

        After falling behind early in the fourth game, Xavier never got closer than four points until it turned a 25-20 deficit into a 28-28 tie. In the final game, DuPont led the Bearcats with five kills; Wise had four and Stahl had three.

        Sara Bachus led the Musketeers with 17 kills and was followed by Jill Hampton (14) and Wygant (12). Xavier was making its first postseason appearance.

        “It turned into a match,” said Xavier coach Floyd Deaton, whose team was led in the final game by Hampton's five kills. The junior also led the way with 13 digs, and Amanda Lang added four fourth-game kills.

        “We came out a little slow and Cincinnati did a nice job,” Deaton said. “But we played hard. I think we just made too many mistakes at the end, and it hurts.”


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