Alex Frank | Sports Director
CINCINNATI – Cincinnati and Xavier are, as ESPN College Basketball analyst Jay Bilas says, “civically divided” rivals, except they weren’t in terms of the play on the volleyball court between the two schools Thursday night at Xavier’s Cintas Center.
That’s because the Bearcats dominated the Musketeers in a straight-set sweep, 25-17 in the first two sets and 25-15 in the third and final set, in the first of two matchups for Cincinnati this week that are a part of the Queen City Classic. The Bearcats will then wrap up the weekend Sunday with a matchup against the current No 25-ranked Louisville Cardinals.
— Alex “Frankie” Frank (@frankie_nnati) September 19, 2019
Bearcats redshirt-senior right side/outside hitter Jordan Thompson was once again the standout on Cincinnati in the match with 22 kills, moving her to within 70 of the all-time career kills record at UC.
“Honestly, no I had no idea that I had even done that, or gotten close to that. “So, that’s news to me,” Thompson said when asked about her thoughts on closing in on the record.
That’s because she and the Bearcats were focused on coming out with the intensity to overpower their arch-rivals out of the gate and then keep their feet on the gas and not allow Xavier any chance of making the match competitive in either of the three sets.
“We came out with the of goal of every set just really focusing on the first five points,” Thompson said. “And I think we did a good job of just each set coming out and pretending we hadn’t won a set yet, and I think that helped us to stay really focused and just compete and play as a team.”
The relentless intensity from Cincinnati allowed them to play the minimum number of sets that can be played in a college volleyball match.
It also allows them to get any extra rest with matches on both Saturday and Sunday.
Rest played a large factor in enabling the Bearcats to come out with the intensity needed in a rivalry game like the one against Xavier Thursday night.
The Bearcats were coming off a win in the NKU Invitational last weekend, the third straight weekend to open the season that Cincinnati competed in a multi-game weekend tournament.
That meant the Bearcats were playing three games in a two-day span in each of the first three weekends of the season, something head coach Molly Alvey said following last week’s tournament that can fatigue players’ bodies.
“In those weekends, it’s a long weekend,” Alvey said. “When you get to come into a match like this and get to focus on just one thing and know that you’re just focusing on one thing and one match, I think that helps a lot.”
At home on the road
While Thursday was a true road game, the number of Bearcats fans in the stands made it feel like a Bearcats home game, as Molly Alvey said after the game.
The official attendance from Thursday night’s match at the Cintas Center was 1,308, but, as Alvey noted, there were many Bearcats fans in the stands including several dozen members of the UC RallyCats.
“Look at our crowd tonight,” Alvey said. “I mean the RallyCats were amazing, the fans that we had in here. I mean there were times, I thought, it felt like we could have been at home.”
Next match mentality
After almost one month through the regular-season, the Bearcats will finally come home for their first match inside Fifth Third Arena when they host the Bowling Green Falcons Saturday at noon.
“How great is our facility?” Alvey said. “When we get all of those people in our arena with our court now it’s going to be amazing. It’s a great place to play.”