SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
( Jeff McAdams with the report on Texas' 25-11, 26-24, 25-19 sweep of Oregon in the KFC YUM! Center Saturday Night)
Texas Takes the Title
Thursday evening saw the semifinal matchups.
Michigan battled Texas to start off the evening with a 7 o'clock first serve. A mighty battle it was, indeed. Texas is a big and powerful team, Michigan smaller and scrappy. This match was a match between a powerful offense, and a great defense.
A really exciting and fun match, but unfortunately Michigan's run had to come to an end.
Because the first match went 5 sets, the scheduled 9pm start for the second match got pushed back to around 10pm, most likely to Oregon's glee.
With UofL's Cardinal Pride filling in admirably in cheering on the Ducks, Oregon took on Penn State and surprised some people.
Oregon was well ranked all year, and playing the brutal PAC-12 conference schedule definitely prepares a team for a good post-season run. Meanwhile, Penn State always has equally tough preparation with the powerhouse Big-10 schedule.
Two to Tango
So the Championship match last night was between Texas and Oregon. If the Texas-Michigan match was a storyline about an offensively minded team versus and defensively minded team, the title match storyline was about two very different styles of offense.
Everything is bigger in Texas, including their volleyball players and their sets. The offense that Texas runs is slow, they set their big outside hitters with very high sets that take a long time to get to the hitters. That does give the hitters a long time to get lined up and prepared for a high jump and a strong swing, and they take advantage of it. It also, of course, gives plenty of time for the blockers to leisurely stroll over and put up a good double block.
Unfortunately for Oregon, they weren't as effective at hitting through that blocking hole versus Texas as they were against Penn State, particularly in the 1st set. The Ducks made a lot of shots right into the single blocks in the 1st set, both in the middle and outside, with disastrous consequences. In the 2nd and 3rd sets, they did adjust and started hitting in between the blocks, but Texas was just too much for them.
( Great report on the action over the last three days, Jeff! Louisville is now a volleyball town, too -- just another reason why we are the best college sports town in America!)