Volleyball Gets it Done in the Queen City
The UofL wide netters got the job done in Cincinnati last night, winning the match against Cincinnati 3-1. Another example of offense by committee with Maya McClendon getting 12, Tess Clark with 11, Janelle Jenkins put down 13, and Erin Fairs rounds out the double-digit kills with 11. Jasmine Bennett made her first collegiate start, plays significant time, and ends the evening with 7 kills.
This one started off a bit rough for the Cards. They started out with a good lead, but Cincy cut it back down to within one point. The Cards went on to win 25-20, but I thought UofL looked a bit sluggish and flat. Despite that, they still managed to execute on plays fairly well.
The wheels really fell off the cart at the start of the second set, with the Cards not able to execute on seemingly the most basic of plays. They were able to get back into the game and even get into a little bit of a lead approaching the 25 point mark. They couldn't quite maintain that lead, though, as Cincinnati came back to tie it up and push the set into extra point. It was a back and forth affair for a while, and when UofL ran out of substitutions, the lineup included Katie George and Lindsay Palmer next to each other in the rotation. When they came around the rotation and ended up in the front row together, the Bearcats took advantage of the lack of hitting and blocking and finished the set out 30-28.
After what was without a doubt a...let's call it "spirited"...set break speech by Coach Kordes, The Cards came out raring to play and looked like a new team. To be sure to avoid the out-of-substitution situation of the second set, Molly Sauer began serving for Tess Clark, leaving Jasmine Bennett in to serve instead. And, while Bennett probably isn't going to win us many points at the service line, she also didn't cost us any in service errors. The newly reinvigorated Kordes Krew cruised to an easy 25-11 third set win.
The fourth set was more of the same with the Cards playing good team ball, with Katie George feeding the hot hands...mostly Tess Clark and Janelle Jenkins...when possible, but also distributing the ball well to others to keep Cincy from being able to really key on one player. UofL claimed the fourth set, 25-15, and with it, the match.
So why did Jasmine Bennett get so much playing time? Well, Maggie DeJong, our other typical starting middle, didn't dress because of having had an injection of a healing agent that requires four days of not playing or practicing. She should be back in the lineup Sunday at Kentucky. Bennett took advantage of the situation and played well and even claims the highest hitting percentage of the night (seven on 12 attempts with only a single miscue for .500), but I expect she didn't take away the starting position from Maggie.
Other stats of note, Tess Clark had her usual big night with .474 hitting with 11 on 19 attempts and two errors. Janelle Jenkins hit .267 with 13 of 30 and 5 mistakes. Maya McClendon got 12 out of 31 with 5 mistakes for .226. And, OK, technically Katie George had a higher hitting percentage on a mistake free three of five for .600, but that's not really a fair comparison. The other hitting of note came from freshman Aniah Philo, who wasn't central to the offense, but was there when needed and came up with four key hits on 11 attempts and only a single miscue.
Defense was also well rounded, led by Katie George with 13 digs, and a huge single block after a Cards overpass to win what, by rights should've been an easy Cincy point. McClendon got four digs, a big solo block and helped of four blocks. Roxanne McVey had eight digs, Tess Clark got in on 3 blocks and had a solo, Jenkins got in on three blocks and had six digs, Bennett really did have a fine night at the net participating in five blocks, Molly Sauer had nine digs, Erin Fairs shoveled 10 and helped on a pair of blocks, Lindsay Palmer got a pair of digs, and Aniah Philo again wasn't flashy but got six big digs when they were really needed.
We saw Gabbie Wiley play a brief stint in the second set to bolster the then-floundering defense, and redshirt freshman Kali Eaken came in for some mop-up play in the fourth set to get a few minutes running the offense at setter.
Coach Molley Alvey continues to rebuild this Cincinnati team from an almost complete reboot of the program four years ago. They are playing respectable volleyball at this point and their 7-3 record reflects it. They aren't playing the cream of the national volleyball crop in the AAC and their non-conference schedule, but they are playing decent teams and getting better all the time.