FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
****** These updates on Friday action...The Cards defeated MTSU in three sets 25-19, 25-11, 25-19 in Volleyball. Field Hockey won 3-2 in double overtime against Central Michigan and Soccer fell to Notre Dame 2-1. Full stories on all three games in the Saturday edition of CARDINAL COUPLE. Be sure to check back! ******
-Volleyball hosts Louisville Tournament...MTSU first opponent
-Women's soccer travels to Notre Dame
-Field Hockey @ Spartan Invitational
-Jay Miller joins Softball coaching staff
-Two special WBB recruits in this weekend
-Notre Dame to ACC -- Some final thoughts
A very busy weekend for UofL women's sports coming up...beginning today with volleyball, field hockey and soccer all in action. Let's get right to the coverage!
Three Volleyball matches in the KFC YUM! Center
UofL will occupy the KFC YUM! Center for three matches as part of the Louisville Invitational this weekend, the first match against Middle Tennessee State University. Despite the Blue Raiders record (3-9), they pose a tough challenge for the Cards. MTSU has had a brutal pre-conference slate of opponents and the roster is young. They'll have a say in the Sun Belt Conference title this season and are led by freshman Chelsea Ross (177 kills, 103 digs) and Ashley Adams (144 kills).
Louisville will also face UNLV and Miami (FL) on Saturday. The MTSU game starts at 7:30 p.m. tonite.
Soccer travels to South Bend
If you're in a road-trip frame of mind...
Karen Ferguson-Dayes' soccer squad begins BIG EAST competition against Norte Dame today at 4 p.m. The match will be televised on ESPNU and also available on-line at ESPN3 at WatchESPN.com.
The Irish (3-3-1) return from a west coast swing that saw them tie Portland and lose to Washington. Louisville (5-1-0) comes into the game after hosting the Marriott Louisville Airport Classic where they bested Toledo and lost to Kentucky.
The Irish hold a 8-3 lifetime series advantage over the Cards, but Louisville won both contests last year...winning 1-0 at South Bend and 2-1 in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament at West Virginia.
Field Hockey battles in Auto-Owners Insurance Spartan Invitational
Another destination you could motor to would be catching Louisville Field Hockey on the road.
Justine Sowry's girls also swing into action with a 4 p.m. clash against Central Michigan on the M.S.U. campus in East Lansing, MI. They'll also face either Michigan State or American University on Saturday, depending on the outcome of the games.
Central Michigan (3-2) takes the field after a loss at Stanford and win over Maine. They feature Erin Dye, who has netted four goals on the season and Mid-American Conference Defensive Player of the Week in goalkeeper Anastasia Netto.
The Chippewas lead the series against the Cards 17-11. Louisville won the last match back in 2010...getting five goals from Nicole Youman in a 9-0 drubbing.
Chong, Harris visit this weekend
Jeff Walz and the University of Louisville basketball team host two major players in the class of 2013 this weekend for official visits. Saniya Chong, a do-everything guard from Ossining, NY and Alexandra "Alex" Harris, the 6'3" board terminator from Lorain. OH. will take in the sights and see the best college sports town around this weekend. Could be a busy weekend for the duo, with football at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium against North Carolina and the volleyball at the YUM.
Chong is one of the best, if not the best, point guard in the 2013 recruiting class. A prolific scorer, distributes the ball well and a team leader. She's down to four schools...the CARDS, UConn, Maryland and Ohio State. WE feel once she sees all that the Louisville campus and facilities offer, she'll pare that list down further. She was low-flying on the national radar until the beginning of her junior year. She's blossomed into the type of guard that can be a difference-maker in a close game. Imagine her in a lineup with Mercedes Russell in the KFC YUM! Center. If we dream it, we can achieve it...
Harris dominates action on both ends of the court with her paint presence. Scores easily from inside and is a ferocious rebounder and defender. She's pared her list to the CARDS, Penn State and Michigan. Watching her game film eerily reminds me of a slightly taller version of Candyce Bingham. She'd be a great catch for the Cards. I bet she'd like playing with Chong and Russell, also.
Enjoy Louisville, girls! It's a great place to spend four years! If you see the dynamic duo on campus or at a sporting event this weekend, flash them an "L" and tell them you'd like to see them in the red and black.
Jay Miller joins Cardinal Softball staff.
Miller comes to Louisville as a volunteer assistant after an impressive career. Head coach at Mississippi from 2003-11. Prior to that, 15 years at Missouri from 1987-2002. 11 NCAA tournament appearances. A lifetime record of 1004-668, just one of 13 NCAA Division I coaches to hit the 1000 win plateau.
"We're very happy to have somebody of Jay Miller's caliber join our staff. He brings a great deal of experience not only with the USA team, but also has an extensive college background and we are excited to have him join our program." -- Sandy Pearsall, UofL head softball coach.
A great addition to an already stellar staff that Pearsall had on board. Miller replaces Lacy Wood, who has accepted an assistant coaching position at Eastern Kentucky. Miller's offensive strategies will only buoy a Cardinal attack that features eight returning starters this year. The Ulmer will be rocking!
When Irish Eyes are smiling...
So much has already been said and discussed about the Notre Dame departure from the BIG EAST to the ACC, that I'll limit my commentary to the effect it will have on women's sports in the BIG EAST.
Muffett McGraw takes a talented basketball team that has been near or at the top of BIG EAST women's hoops for a decade to a conference that may well be the second strongest in women's college basketball.
New challenges in recruiting. New opponents to learn and face. And, with the vacating of the top rung on the ladder that the Irish shared with UConn, who will climb up?
Obviously, Louisville will vye for that spot. DePaul, Rutgers and St.John's will try and lay claim to that rare air as well.
The Irish were contenders in BIG EAST softball, volleyball, soccer, field hockey, track and field, swimming and diving and golf each and every year. Their departure weakens the league but also provides the chances for other programs to capitalize and move up.
Most people I've talked to in the 48 hours since the Irish announcement agree that it is a strong blow to BIG EAST conference stability but rationalize that it doesn't hurt the already wobbly football coalition.
These same people, in a vast majority, also would like to see the Cards follow suit and try their fortunes in another conference. Big 12, Big 10, ACC...with the BIG 12 getting the majority of the favoritism.
Here at CARDINAL COUPLE, we'll go on record as wondering if it's better to be a big fish in a rapidly draining pond or a new fish in a different lake?
Notre Dame and Louisville have easily been the top two programs in BIG EAST overall women's sports since the Cardinals joined the conference in 2005. With the departure of the Irish, more conference championships are in Louisville's women's sports destiny. Better to be a giant in a small kingdom?
Of course, any move in the future will be dictated by the economic engine of football. For now, Tom Jurich better get the UofL maintenance staff busy installing more trophy cases and shelves. Cardinal superiority will only increase.
And, that's not a bad thing at all.
Finally, if you attend the Louisville vs, North Carolina football game Saturday...make sure and stop by 80 under 80 to hear Robbie Bartlett and take a bath with Poobah, Sonja and Carol the Kid. MArkie MArk might even tell you about the festivus stick we left in Charlotte.