(WHAS11) -- Seniors Lola Arslanbekova and Gwen Rucker combined for 23 kills to lead the No. 11 ranked University of Louisville to a 25-18, 25-15, 26-24 sweep of Cincinnati to give the Cardinals at least a share of the 2012 BIG EAST regular championship. This is the second straight regular season BIG EAST crown and the fourth regular season title in eight years.
“It was a team effort today as you can see by the stats how well the setters distributed the ball to multiple hitters,” said U of L head coach Anne Kordes. “ They did an excellent job and the defense could not key on any one attacker. I just love the way we are playing and I feel we are tournament ready . We will have to watch the outcome of the Marquette versus Notre Dame up in Milwaukee later today to see our seed. UC played so tough on Friday, taking Notre Dame to five and they had a great effort today. Everyone is peaking for tournament.”
U of L, 25-3 and 14-1 in the BIG EAST, hit .429 for the match with four blocks and six aces. Brooke Mattingly and Tanya Lukyanenko each chipped in seven kills with Emily Juhl adding six kills. Libero Caitlin Welch had 15 digs, making her the all-time dig leader at U of L as just a junior. She now has amassed 1,487 digs, passing Shannon Misek’s mark.
The Cards powered out to a 15-10 lead early in the first set. U of L used .484 hitting, led by Lola’s eight kills. The Bearcats pushed back with a 4-1 to cut the lead to four at 22-17, but the effort came too late as the Cards pushed to the 25-18 win.
Louisville used a 6-0 run to pull out to a 15-9 lead early in the second half. Tanya Lukyanenko had five kills in the front row during the run. U of L hitting stayed hot at .406 and Emily Juhl had four kills on eight swings to help the Cards to the 25-15 win.
After the break, the Bearcats came out swinging, taking a 10-6 lead. U of L scrambled back to tie at 10 before the teams started trading points. At 14 all, U of L had a 4-0 run to go up 17-14, but the Bearcats weren’t done yet as they tied at 20 and then took the lead at 21-20 as Jordanne Scott had four straight kills for UC. Three consecutive Gwen Rucker kills and a kill by Brooke Mattingly gave the Cards set and match point at 24-21. However, UC scored three straight to tie at 24 but kills by Mattingly and Arslanbekova gave the match to U of L 26-24.
The Cardinals will have the No. 1 seed, should Marquette beat Notre Dame. If Notre Dame wins, U of L will have the No. 2 seed as ND is U of L’s only loss. U of L will travel to Milwaukee for the BIG EAST Tournament. The conference awards banquet is slated for Thursday evening with match action beginning on Friday. See bigeast.org and its Championship Central for details.