PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Louisville Cardinals and the Cincinnati Bearcats both dispatched of their first round opponents in straight sets to advance to the second round of the 2010 NCAA Volleyball Championship. It marks the first time since 2005 that the BIG EAST has had two teams advance to the NCAA second round. Both teams will play their second round matches on Saturday night.
Louisville defeated Middle Tennessee 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-17) as sophomore Lola Arslanbekova led the way with 17 kills. It is the first NCAA tournament win for the Cardinals in five seasons. Senior Amanda Simmons and junior Gwen Rucker combined for four solo blocks and five block assists, controlling the net all afternoon for UofL. As a team, the Cardinals outblocked Middle Tennessee 11-3 while out-hitting the Blue Raiders .293 to .158. Louisville will play host Purdue Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET in the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Boilermakers beat Kentucky 3-1 in their first round match. It is the ninth second round appearance for the Cardinals, who are 4-4 all-time in the round of 32. The Cardinals dropped a 3-1 decision to Purdue back on Sept. 17.
No. 21 Cincinnati also advanced with a 3-0 (25-22, 28-26, 25-12) victory over Western Kentucky, as the Bearcats advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament for the second time in three seasons. BIG EAST Player of the Year Stephanie Niemer led the Bearcats with 21 kills and eight digs. Cincinnati hit .449 in the contest, as Niemer hit .513 while sophomore Jordanne Scott hit a blistering .625 (11 kills on 16 attacks). Cincinnati faces host Illinois at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. The Fighting Illini defeated Austin Peay 3-0 in their first round match.UC defeated then-No. 5 Illinois 3-2 in the regular-season meeting between the two squads. The two teams also met in the second round of the 2008 NCAA Championship, with Illinois taking a 3-0 win.
The teams will look to make conference history, as the BIG EAST has never had two teams advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Championship. The last BIG EAST team to qualify for the third round was St. John’s in 2007. Both matches will be streamed live on NCAA.com.