Cincinnati Bearcats women’s volleyball team won two NCAA Tournament games this past weekend to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.
After finishing the regular season 24-5 overall and 15-1 in AAC play, the Bearcats received an at-large bid to the school’s 12th NCAA Tournament and 3rd in 4 years.
It started on Friday night with a 4-set victory over VCU. Bearcats lost the first set 25-20, but rattled off three straight wins.
This wasn’t unexpected. Cincinnati had such a good season and beating VCU was a great accomplishment.
Round two was against a Pittsburgh team that lost 1 match all season. Playing at home and ranked #2, it would seem that the Bearcats were at a disadvantage.
The first set went to extra points and Pitt won 26-24. Cincinnati came back to win set two 25-21. Pitt dominated the third set, winning 25-16, putting them 25 points away from victory and moving on in the tournament.
Sophomore Maria Mallon and superstar senior Jordan Thompson both dominated the fourth set, with key hits and kills throughout as the Bearcats won 25-21, to tie the match at 2-2.
Pitt led the 5th and final set 12-9, as things started looking bleak for the Bearcats. A couple of Thompson kills and some clutch hitting helped the Bearcats rally to take a 14-13 lead before this happened...
Without a doubt, THE BIGGEST WIN IN CINCINNATI PROGRAM HISTORY!!!!#NCAAVB | @GoBearcatsVB pic.twitter.com/826vhJMua6— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) December 8, 2019
Jordan Thompson, the all-time kill leader at UC and among the all-time NCAA greats, led the way with 27 kills. Mallon had 19 kills and was credited with the game-winner in the video above.
Two other key players were Karoline Fauske, who had 6 blocks, and Adria Oliver had 14 kills.
Cincinnati will play in the Sweet 16 in the Stanford region against Penn State on Friday night at 8pm on ESPN3. Penn State is historically dominant, winning 7 National Championships (all since 1999). Their most recent win came in 2014. It is their 16th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance (every year since 2003).
Fun Fact: Penn State and Cincinnati squared off in each program's first ever @NCAAVolleyball Tournament match in 1981 (the very first NCAA Tournament).— Penn State Women’s Volleyball (@PennStateVBALL) December 8, 2019
38 years later the teams will meet in the NCAA Tournament for a second time. pic.twitter.com/OkVlP9uUTU