What's In a Record?
At Sunday's Volleyball match against Kentucky, I started to sense some frustration from the crowd over how the season is going for the Volleyball team thus far.
I thought it was time to take stock of where things are and where they are going this season.
First, let's keep in mind that we're 6-4, only a third of the way through the season. There's still a long way to go and we haven't even started the conference slate, yet. Yes, we've talked about how the ACC is a step up in play over the American/AAC, and that remains as true now as when we first started talking about it when UofL got invited to join the Atlantic Coast. But the ACC isn't, still, at the top echelon of volleyball play as a conference, either. The result is that Coach Kordes and the volleyball coaching staff has still scheduled a very tough out of conference schedule.
I'm a little dismayed at having four losses at this point -- as I'm sure many other fans are as well -- but when you stop and really think about the four losses that we've taken, you start to lose some of the sting. Looking at the coach's poll that was released yesterday, all four of the teams that we have lost to are Top 25 teams. Illinois is #9, Wisconsin is #16, Minnesota - who wasn't ranked when we played them - is now ranked #21, and Kentucky is still ranked #24, even with five loses.
OK, so none of our losses are bad losses, so let's take a look forward at what we can expect in conference play. In the next eight games, we play Notre Dame, Miami, Syracuse, Boston College, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Duke.
I think all eight of those matches could be wins for the Cardinals. I don't even think I'm going out on too much of a limb to say it.
Notre Dame is in the first year of a new coach and essentially rebuilding the program after the wheels pretty much fell off in the past couple of years. They've got losses to Bowling Green, Cleveland State, Seton Hall, Temple, and South Dakota. They also have losses against Penn State and Purdue, but I'm not going to count either of those against them. I think they're probably a better team than they were last year, but we should win this one.
Miami could be a challenge. With losses to Missouri State, Marquette, and Oral Roberts, you have to think they're vulnerable, but wins over Purdue (now ranked #20), and Kansas State suggest that they are capable of playing at a pretty high level of play. If we show up and play well, I think we can win this one.
Syracuse is something of a crap-shoot right now. With their only losses to current #14 Arizona, and #12 Ohio State, they don't have any bad losses, but the rest of the matches they have played are all against relative nobodies with the best wins over Auburn, and Georgia. Syracuse typically hasn't been much of a threat given the way the teams match up, so I think we get this one in the win column again.
Boston College doesn't look to pose a real threat, with eight wins over no one of any real relevance, and four losses to Fairfield, Marshall, Michigan State, and Delaware.
Georgia Tech doesn't appear to be a major concern either. With losses to Coastal Carolina, and Kennesaw State, and no real quality wins, they appear to be more concerned with mammal urination, than volleyball. I won't count a lose against perennial powerhouse Nebraska against them.
Clemson is 5-7, probably enough said, but let's look at the losses. UNC Wilmington, Appalachian State (OK, let's be generous and toss this one out as we saw last year that App State can put together a pretty good Volleyball team), South Carolina, Furman, SMU, UTSA, and TCU. Moving on...
Wake Forest looks beatable, with an 8-4 record with losses to Northwestern (good in Lacrosse, not so much in Volleyball), New Hampshire, Marshall, and VCU.
That leaves the next real potential for a significant challenge as Duke, with losses to Long Beach State, Kansas, Stanford, Michigan, and Michigan State. Let's toss out that Stanford loss, and they don't really have any good wins at this point, so they're certainly beatable as well.
OK, so we've got some easier play ahead of us, but also some challenges in getting into post-season play as not too many teams left on our schedule will give us much of an RPI boost. #17 Florida State is out there, and North Carolina is "Receiving Votes", but other than those two, we're going to have to crawl our way up the RPI, because it doesn't look like anyone else will give us any real big boosts.
We've seen this UofL Volleyball team play well, at least in stretches, and occasionally for whole matches. They are capable of playing with any team in the country when they're "on"...at least in my judgement. We have to get service errors under control, though...if you have 14 service errors like we did Sunday, you'll have trouble against pretty much any team. Coach Kordes has said that they are trying to serve aggressively, which I understand, but perhaps it's time to dial it back a notch or two.
Overall, there is potential in this team to end the season with a pretty good record, good enough, I believe, to make post-season play. They are going to have to pull it together and bring some consistency to their play, but if they do that, I believe they have a chance of finishing out the season strong.