Cincinnati Sweeps Past USF in BIG EAST Volleyball Championship Quarterfinal

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PITTSBURGH, Pa. - In a rematch of the 2009 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship semifinals, the No. 1 seed Cincinnati Bearcats defeated the No. 8 seed USF Bulls 3-0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-14) at Fitzgerald Field House in the second quarterfinal match on Friday. Cincinnati has qualified for the BIG EAST Championship semifinals in back-to-back seasons and has eliminated the Bulls in each of the last two years.
 
Cincinnati senior Stephanie Niemer, BIG EAST Player of the Year, and sophomore Jordanne Scott propelled the Bearcats to the sweep with 10 kills each. Scott hit .692 in the match, while senior setter Annie Fesl notched a match-high 30 assists. UC hit .372 as a team while turning in a solid defensive effort that saw USF hit -.055, recording 40 digs. Fesl and freshman Emily MacIntyre each had eight digs to lead the team.
 
The Bearcats, ranked No. 18 in the country, grabbed the first set 25-7, as Niemer and sophomore Jordanne Scott each had four kills. The Bearcats, who led the BIG EAST in hitting percentage against conference opponents at .307, hit a blistering .667 in the set, recording 14 kills on 21 swings without a single error. Senior Annie Fesl had 10 assists in the set along with two digs. The Bulls struggled to get it going against the BIG EAST regular-season champion with nine errors in the first frame.
 
Cincinnati won the second frame 25-13, getting 10 more assists from Fesl. Becca Refenes added four kills. The Bulls battled in the beginning of the set, scoring four consecutive points after falling behind 13-4 to cut the lead to five. All-BIG EAST First Team selection Allie Boaz led the Bulls with three kills in the set. USF's offense consistently went through Boaz, as she had 14 swings in the second frame alone.
 
UC completed the sweep with a 25-14 score in the third set. Scott had five kills in the set, including the match clincher on an assist from Fesl. This was the 11th sweep against a BIG EAST opponent for the Bearcats this season, which included a 3-0 win on Oct. 23 over USF.
 
The Bearcats will face No. 5 seed Notre Dame on Saturday at 1 p.m. in the first of two semifinal matches for the right to play in the title match on Sunday. Cincinnati defeated the Irish 3-0 in a regular-season meeting on Oct. 10 on ESPNU.
 
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 19
Match 1: No. 5 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Villanova 1 (25-20, 25-17, 21-25, 25-14)
Match 2: No. 1 Cincinnati 3, No. 8 USF 0 (25-7, 25-13, 25-14)
Match 3: No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Seton Hall, 3:30 p.m.
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette vs. No. 6 Pittsburgh, 6 p.m.
 
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 20
Match 5: No. 1 Cincinnati vs. No. 5 Notre Dame, 1 p.m.
Match 6: No. 3/No. 6 vs. No. 2/No. 7, 3:30 p.m.
 
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 21
Match 7: Semifinal winners, 3:30 p.m. (LIVE - ESPNU)