Last week opened the Early Signing Period for most NCAA sports, and we here at Cardinal Couple usually try to catch up with the signing classes as they get announced. I believe we have signings for Field Hockey, Volleyball, Softball, Lacrosse, Golf, and Swimming and Diving. There may be more that I've missed, and if so I'll dig them up in future weeks. This week, I'm going to highlight the Volleyball signees.
While Volleyball has been doing a lot of recruiting over the past few years in Texas, and our roster shows it with five Texans playing for UofL at the moment, this class represents more of ACC country, with a Virginian and two Hoosiers. The class is evenly spread on attack, with a middle, a left side, and a right side hitter. This class also brings a bit more height to what is currently a pretty undersized UofL squad.
Piper Roe is a 6'2" middle hitter and blocker out Cave Springs High School in Roanoke, VA where she holds the Virginia High School League block record, and had over 1000 kills. Cave Springs was state runner up her junior year, when she was named to the All-State first team.
Piper brings some more, needed, height to the squad, though she will have a challenge ahead of her to get playing time in her first couple of years behind Tess Clark and Maggie DeJong. Look for her to make most of her impact in a couple of years along with Jasmine Bennett in the middle. Conditioning shouldn't be a problem for Roe as her second sport in High School was Cross Country.
Roe, from Roanoke, comes from the heart of ACC country and is, along with this year's ACC successes, an indication that this Volleyball team is gaining currency in ACC territory.
Melanie McHenry is a 6'1" left side hitter out of Speedway High School in Indiana. With a name like that, you will likely be unsurprised to find out that Speedway High School is less than a mile from The Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And because we love to talk about interesting mascots here at Cardinal Couple, Speedway High School are The Sparkplugs.
Melanie played two sports at Speedway, Volleyball of course, and...Football.
McHenry made quite a splash as the kicker for the Sparkplugs and rumor has it that the Volleyball coaching staff gave her the chance to put one through the uprights at PJCS when she came for her official visit.
Melanie will be augmenting our left-side hitting corp, which will be looking to replace the offense of Erin Fairs who will be graduating at the end of this year. McHenry will be looking for some immediate playing time alongside Maya McClendon and Aniah Philo.
Also out of Indianapolis, from Cathedral High School, which is generally considered to have been the #1 team in the nation this year, Megan is a 6'1" right side hitter that got Under Armor All-American honors.
Sloane will be adding to our right side hitting, which is a pretty big need for this Cardinal team. While Morgan Miller is the only player on the roster listed as right side, Janelle Jenkins has spent quite a bit of her time over there. Erin Fairs and Aniah Philo are also spotted swinging from the right side on occasion. With Erin graduating, that leaves the right side pretty sparse, adding to some Cardinal depth there is important.
With a look to the future seasons complete, let's bring it back in an look at what lies ahead for the Cards Volleyball squad for the rest of this season.
After a huge weekend sweep through the state of Florida, with a big win on Friday night over Miami, and a huge win on Sunday over Florida State, the Cards are poised to finish out the season strong with their first ACC Championship. This weekend is the last home matches of the season with Clemson and Georgia Tech coming to town. The Cards have already played, and swept, both of these teams in an earlier road trip. As always, you never want to take any teams for granted, but if the wide-netters show up and play the way we all know they're capable of, these two matches should be wins.
After a short week, The Cards head to New England for a Thanksgiving Eve match against Boston College. Again, as long as UofL shows up and plays how we know they can, this shouldn't be much of a threat to them.
The real challenge lies in the season finale at Syracuse. While UofL already holds a win over former UofL head coach and current Syracuse skipper Leonid Yelin this season, that was here at the KFC Yum! Center, and you can count on Syracuse being a better team than they were when we hosted them as the third match in conference. Syracuse is a strong blocking team, much like UNC who handed us our only loss in conference so far this season, and FSU who played us very tough in a five set match. This match will be a last real test for the Kordes Krew, but should also serve as a good warmup for NCAA play.
Another factor that is being looked at is RPI rankings. Coach Kordes has looked all year to the RPI as part of the team's goal to host first and second round NCAA tournament play. Currently the Cards are in 13th in the RPI, Clemson is at 206, Georgia Tech is 110, Boston College is 166, and Syracuse is 60. Based on those, even assuming the Cards sweep all four of these matches, short of the Top 15 imploding, expect the RPI to drop some after this weekend's matches against Clemson and Georgia Tech. Boston College will certainly not help us in the RPI, and Syracuse won't help us much, if at all, either. Consider the RPI a defensive battle for the Cards at this point, we must win these last four matches, not to boost our RPI, but to avoid it getting clobbered by losses against teams far down the list if we are to host NCAA tournament matches.