The University of Cincinnati Clermont College’s women’s varsity volleyball team is enjoying a successful first half of the 2008 campaign.
Season-long important victories have earned the Red and Black national recognition with their number-one rating in the country for the first time in the program’s history. United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA).
The Cougars have won nine of their first 11 contests.
In their most recent battles, held as part of a triangular showdown, the Red and Black defeated Ohio State University – Marion 25-17, 25-23, 25-16 and lost to Indiana University – East (IU – East) 23-25, 26-24, 17-25, 25-18, 15-11.
In defense of last year's Ohio Regional Campus Conference West Division championship (their fourth consecutive) and qualifying for the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Championship Tournament (two consecutive years), the Cougars began the current season with a victory over Southern State Community College 25-11, 25-14, 25-15.
In the early-on portion of the campaign, UC Clermont head volleyball coach Joe Harpring said, "Our returning players are stronger after a year of experience and work in the weight room. Our keys for this year are getting used to our home court since we haven't been able to practice much there (because of renovations) and blending our newcomers into a cohesive unit. I look to our returnees to provide leadership and help make the adjustment a smooth one."
This year's edition of the Red and Black began with four stellar players back in the fold from a team that finished seventh in the nation in 2007 - junior middle hitter Kelley Koons, sophomore outside hitter Jaimie Martin, sophomore outside hitter Jaci Stewart, and sophomore middle hitter Lynn Abbinante. Abbinante's father is a renowned coach at Western Brown High School and was a three-sport all-star athlete (football, wrestling, and baseball) who graduated from Bethel-Tate High School in 1976.
Results from UC Clermont's other battles include an appearance in the Penn State - New Kensington Invitational Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pa. Clermont defeated the host team 25-12, 25-11, 25-10 and Ohio State University - Marion 18-25, 25-23, 25-14, 25-23 before winning the championship finale, again, over Ohio State University - Marion 20-25, 25-14, 25-16, 25-15.
The next victim of the Cougars was Central State (Ohio) University 25-18, 19-25, 21-25 25-10, 16-14. Kentucky State University handed the Red and Black its first setback 25-15, 19-25, 21-25, 25-10, 16-14. Ohio University - Chillicothe felt Clermont's vengeful wrath next losing 20-15, 25-17, 25-14, 25-13. This game was an Ohio Regional Campus Conference contest.
In addition to the aforementioned members of the team, the remainder of the roster includes freshmen Lauren Bradford, Katie Patrick, Cindy Votel, Sarah Shumate, and Shawnessey Chiodi.
Harpring first joined the UC Clermont volleyball staff in 2001. After three seasons as an assistant coach, he was promoted as head coach in 2004.
Since 2004, Harpring has led the Cougars to a record of 58-29 and this includes four consecutive Ohio Regional Campus Conference West Division championships. For the past two seasons, the Red and Black received bids to compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association National Tournament that took place both years in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Harpring, who has coached Junior Olympic volleyball for 15 years, has as members of his team four USCAA All-Americans, three ORCC most valuable players, and through the years he has coached 14 ORCC first team all-stars.
He, himself, is a member of the UC Clermont Athletic Hall of Fame.
Harpring's assistant coaches are Meagan Otten, a Felicity High School graduate and a member of the UC Clermont Athletic Hall of Fame in her third season, and Whitney Brown, a graduate of Williamsburg High School in her rookie year.
Ooten attended UC Clermont and earned degrees in Computer Information System and Interactive Multimedia Web Design. As a three-year member of the Cougars' volleyball team, she was a middle and outside hitter and was an ORCC all-star twice. Her final year she was named the UC Clermont Female Athlete of the Year.
Brown was a three-year member of the volleyball team. She was a two-time USCAA All-American and was an ORCC all-star all three seasons. Her final year she was named as the school's Female Athlete of the Year and is a member of the UC Clermont Athletic Hall of Fame.
The academic advisor is Peggy Hager, associate professor of mathematics, a graduate of Glen Este High School, and a member of the UC Clermont Athletic Hall of Fame.
The University of Cincinnati Clermont College Cougars volleyball team is composed of the following:
Lauren Bradford, a freshman and a graduate of Norwood High School; Katie Patrick, a freshman and a graduate of Western Brown High School; Cindy Votel, a freshman and a graduate of Bellevue (Ky.) High School, Jaci Stewart, a sophomore and a graduate of Blanchester High School; Jamie Martin, a sophomore and a graduate of Turpin High School; Erica Hoctor, a sophomore and a graduate of Turpin High School; Sarah Shumate,a freshman and a graduate of Lawrence County (Tn.) High School; Lynn Abbinante, a sophomore and a graduate of Western Brown High School; Shawnessey Chiodi, a freshman and a graduate of Shroder-Paideia High School; and Kelley Koons, a junior and a graduate of Miamisburg High School.
The remainder of the Cougars' volleyball schedule is as follows: Oct. 3 Ohio University - Chillicothe (6 p. m.), Oct. 4 at Ohio State University - Lima, Oct. 6 Miami University - Middletown (6 p. m.), Oct. 8 Southern State Community College (7 p. m.), Oct. 12 Ohio State University - Lima (1 p. m.), Oct. 15 Kentucky State University (6 p. m.), Oct. 16 at Cincinnati Christian University, Oct. 18 Miami University - Hamilton (1 p. m.), Oct. 19 at Scarlet Wave Invitational (Ohio State University - Marion), and Oct. 25 & 25 and Nov. 1 ORCC State Tournament.