Basketball Romps Over Valpo
In the second game of a Cardinal triple header, the Women's Basketball team put it to an, honestly, not very good Valparaiso team 75-42.
The Cards had five in double digits with the M&M's (Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore) both at 12 and three of the freshmen, Erin DeGrate, Sam Fuerhing, and Asia Durr all tallying 10. This one was great fun to watch, with great passing, and a full on Attack Yorkie defense. We saw Dakota Weatherford and Briahanna Jackson both on the court at one time and watched them wreak havoc. Of course, Taja Cole also is a well-deserved owner of the Yorkie tag as well after yoinking three steals along with Jackson. Otherwise, nearly everyone got in on the pilfering, with Mariya Moore, Cortnee Walton, DeGrate, Fuerhing, Arica Carter, and Brianna Jones all coming up with their own burglaries.
Lots of the stats that we've been watching this year were improved, with 19 points off of 22 Valpo turnovers, and 13 points off of 19 offensive rebounds. There is still room for improvement on those, but they are much better than we in some of the earlier outings. Shooting percentages weren't spectacular. 66% from the charity stripe falls short of the 70% benchmark that we use here at CC, 44% for field goals isn't great, but it's in tolerable territory. The one bright spot was the 39% from behind the arc where Mariya Moore led the charge with 4 out of all 5 of the shots she took in the game finding the bottom of the net. Asia Durr also popped a couple from the corner.
The Cards basketball team next head down the road to Rupp Arena to take on Kentucky. This also could be a good opportunity to see what's going on down in Lexington after hearing the news of four players transferring out of the program in six weeks. This leaves Mitchell with a pretty severely depleted roster, though Makayla Epps is still there and will always be a threat. The only team of any real consequence that the Cats have played this year was Arizona State, a game they won 68-64 in Arizona.
Volleyball Season Ends
The Volleyball squad saw their season come to a close after a loss to Illinois in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Cardinal Arena (15-25, 25-22, 25-18, 27-25). Illinois' height was probably the on-the-court difference, as the Illini tallied 11 blocks compared to UofL's 6.
The Cards came out of the locker room hot and heavy, cruising to an easy 25-15 win. Illinois looked rattled, made a number of unforced errors, and only hit .097 for the set. Meanwhile, everything was going UofL's way, and the Cards ended the first set with a .333 hitting percentage. After the first set, the adrenaline wore off, both for the team and the fans, and things were more balanced, though the hitting percentages flip-flopped, with UofL dropping to .182 and UI swinging for .311. After the set break, both teams were able to play cleaner with the Cards climbing back to a still-not-stellar .238, but Illinois ran out to a very impressive .361 hitting.
The fourth set was the dramatic one. The Illini were able to continue with the momentum, climbing out to a 21-15 lead, when UofL Coach Anne Kordes called her last timeout after a controversial touch call. The UofL fans, sensing the do or die moment, stood, cheered, and encouraged the team coming out of the timeout. In the close confines of Cardinal Arena, the difference was clear. The Cards roared back to tie the game at 24-24, and then against at 25-25. During the run, Coach Kevin Hambly used both of Illinois' timeouts and finally UI was able to put the game and match away.
The player of the match was probably Illinois' Jocelynn Birks with a staggering 26 kills for a torrid .426 hitting percentage. Only one other UI player, Naya Crittenden, even reached double digits, with 11 for a pretty efficient .318.
The Cards were led by the spark of Maya McClendon with 17 for .317, and Erin Fairs with 14 on 43 attempts for .140. Tess Clark and Maggie DeJong had solid games out of the middle with 7 kills each, but were hampered by long stretches where the Illinois attack kept the Cards just out of system and thus taking the middles out of the game. Defensively, Janelle Jenkins was out in front with 12 digs, with Katie George getting 11, and Molly Sauer, fighting a mild stomach bug, also coming up with 11. There were three big solo blocks by Erin Fairs, Maggie DeJong, and Maya McClendon.
Where do the Cards go from here? Katie George has been the face of this team for four years, losing her to graduation will hurt in the departure of the leadership. It also is going to have an impact by losing one of the better setters in college volleyball, however, I think, in Kali Eaken, UofL has a good replacement in the wings, so I think this team will be OK in that area. Erin Fairs takes a lot of offensive firepower away with her graduation. While we've only had her for a year, she made a major impact on this team and losing that offensive weapon will be hard to fully recover from, though we do have 3 hitters coming in as freshmen next year, whether they'll be able to replace Fairs' firepower is an open question. Roxanne McVey will be going to LSU to play sand volleyball and she was a solid defensive presense, and a competent backup setter when George had to take the dig. We have other defensive players already on the roster that can fill that gap. Look, perhaps to see Lindsay Palmer or Gabbie Wiley to expand their roles from just serving specialists to play more defense.
If I may be allowed to editorialize, for a moment, however, I think the biggest lesson that UofL fans should learn from this match is the power of an engaged and loud crowd. I would encourage all UofL fans to go back and rewatch the fourth set of that match...I know it's hard, knowing the outcome...but pay attention to what happened coming out of the timeout at 15-21. Before that, in the set, we were largely passive and sitting, but coming out of that timeout, the UofL crowd (mostly) got to their feet, yelled, screamed, and cheered. The response in the play of the team was immediate and dramatic, putting together one of the most impressive rallies I've seen in college volleyball. Next year, I don't want to see the seats of the KFC Yum! Center filled for UofL volleyball, I want to see people standing and cheering. The fourth set last night was an object lesson in the importance of fans, let's learn it.
Our broadcast from yesterday is now up on the Soundcloud at Crescent Hill Radio. We had a lively discussion about Volleyball and also Women's Basketball.
THE CARDINAL COUPLE RADIO HOUR