Cincinnati Wins 2011 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship Title


MILWAUKEE, Wis. - The No. 2 seed Cincinnati Bearcats (25-8, 12-2 BIG EAST) defeated the No. 5 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish (17-12, 8-6 BIG EAST) 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 27-25) to win the 2011 BIG EAST Volleyball Championship title on Sunday at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, Wis. It is the first title for the Bearcats as a member of the BIG EAST Conference. Cincinnati which lost in the title game the past two seasons, earns the conference's automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Championship. With the win, the Bearcats winning streak improves to 12 matches.
Cincinnati senior Missy Harpenau was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player, averaging 3.55 kills per set over the three matches. In the title match, she provided the Bearcats with seven kills and 12 digs. Bearcats also landed juniors Jordanne Scott and Megan Turner on the All-Tournament Team. For Notre Dame, senior Kristen Dealy earned her fourth All-Tournament selection while freshman Jeni Houser earned her first. Dealy had 13 kills in the final match, while Houser had 11.
Cincinnati, who also defeated Notre Dame 3-1 on Oct. 1, won the first set 25-22. Down 21-16 Cincinnati registered nine of the next 10 points to secure the first set. Scott provided three kills for the Bearcats as the squad rallied for the comeback victory.
The Bearcats secured a 2-0 lead in the match after taking the second set 25-21. Notre Dame jumped out to a 5-3 advantage before Cincinnati scored the next five points to take an 8-5 lead. The Bearcats extended its lead to 16-10 with help from Scott and junior Emily Hayden, who both notched five kills in the set. As a team, Cincinnati registered a .406 hitting percentage in the second set. Dealy led the Irish effort with six kills while senior Frenchy Silva added five digs.
The Bearcats completed the sweep by winning the third set 27-25. Neither team held more than a two-point advantage in the final set. Locked at 25, back-to-back kills by juniors Becca Refenes and Turner secured the title for Cincinnati. Harpenau had five kills, as the Bearcats squad hit .395 in the final set and .294 in the match. Houser had six kills in the third set for the Irish while Dealy had four.  
With the victory, the Bearcats earn an automatic berth to the NCAA Championship. Cincinnati hosts Ohio on Nov. 25 and Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 27 before NCAA Championship play begins. This will be the fourth-straight season Cincinnati has qualified for the NCAA Championship. The NCAA Selection Show will air on ESPNU on Nov. 27 at 6 p.m.
Most Outstanding Player
Missy Harpenau, Cincinnati, Sr., OH
2011 All-Tournament Team
Lola Arslanbekova, Louisville, Jr., OH
Kristen Dealy, Notre Dame, Sr., OH
Missy Harpenau, Cincinnati, Sr., OH
Jeni Houser, Notre Dame, Fr., MB
Holly Mertens, Marquette, Jr., RS
Jordanne Scott, Cincinnati, Jr., MB
Megan Turner, Cincinnati, Jr., RS
Championship Bracket:
Quarterfinals, Friday, Nov. 18
Match 1: No. 5 Notre Dame 3, No. 4 Syracuse 1 (27-25,25-17,21-25,25-19) 
Match 2: No. 1 Louisville 3, No. 8 Pittsburgh 1 (25-13,25-20,24-26,25-20)
Match 3: No. 2 Cincinnati 3, No. 7 Villanova 0 (25-11,25-14,25-16) 
Match 4: No. 3 Marquette 3, No. 6 Seton Hall 0 (25-22,25-21,25-21)
Semifinals, Saturday, Nov. 19
Match 5: Notre Dame 3, Louisville 1 (25-22,22-25,25-21,25-19)  
Match 6: Cincinnati 3, Marquette 2 (21-25,21-25,25-22,25-17,15-13)
Championship, Sunday, Nov. 20
Match 7: Cincinnati 3, Notre Dame 0 (25-22,25-21,27-25)