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Monday, April 4, 2016

An Afternoon in Lexington - Monday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball Starts Spring Play


Volleyball started their spring season yesterday, with a trip down I-64 to Kentucky.  Any time UofL plays UK, it ends up being a good game, and this was no exception. Spring play is always a little loosey-goosey, but it makes for a good time, as well.  UK did come away with the win in a 3-2 match, but don't put too much stock in the match outcome as it's more about practice and a chance to measure up the progress being made against outside, and typically fairly well known, competition.

Of course, spring play also always brings a surprise or two concerning the roster, and this year is no exception.  The graduates, Katie George, Roxanne McVey, and Erin Fairs are off to new phases of their life (WDRB, LSU Beach Volleyball, and Sweden pro play, respectively).  A new player, Nikki Koval, has joined the team after transferring from USF, but we had the opportunity to meet her at the Volleyball banquet a couple of months ago.  The real surprises come from Maya McClendon and Aniah Philo deciding not to return.  We have no word about what their plans are, but both McClendon and Philo are excellent players and will no doubt find a new home for their skills. 

UofL will be having three incoming freshmen that will arrive on campus sometime this summer, and other transfers remain a possibility.

So what is UofL working on that we saw on the court in Memorial Coliseum? 

Probably the biggest question for UofL is what will happen at setter, with four year starter Katie George gone.  There are still three players on the roster listed as setters, Lindsay Palmer, Kali Eaken, and Morgan Miller. Lindsay has been contributing as a DS and serving specialist, and will struggle as a primary setter because she's only 5'8". Kali Eaken and Morgan Miller are both freshman, and you can see their progress.  Kali is a pure setter, while Morgan also has experience as a right side hitter.  We saw all three in the role yesterday, as well as some game time where the team played a 6-2 offense, with the setter always being in the back row.  While the 6-2 is still very much a work in progress for this team, the potential is exciting and it's a lot of fun to watch.  At this point, though, if they decided to go with a 5-1 offense, I would expect it to be Eaken.

Due to a few minor injuries that limited some players, it's hard to draw much in the way of conclusions about what's going on in the hitting positions.

Maggie Dejong didn't play at middle, but did play some as a DS...and got a small handful of swings in at left side. Jasmine Bennett played middle in her place, which is to be expected.  While she had a few miscues and mistimed jumps, her progress is noticeable as well.

Gabbie Wiley continues to have a high risk-high reward serve, provides some extra oomph in the defense, but she also had the opportunity to do some hitting as well.  I don't expect she'll ever be a dominant hitter, due to her height, but she did get some good swings in.  Morgan Miller also played out of her typical positions as well, with some swings from the left side rather than her usual right side.  Post-game, she expressed some surprise at being asked to play that role, but she did a fine job of it.

Otherwise, players continue to play their typical roles, Tess Clark doing Tess-like things in the middle, Molly Sauer digging every shot in sight, and Janelle Jenkins...well, she played just about every position on the court, which is nothing new for her.

Spring play continues for Volleyball next week with a round-robin tournament at OVVC on Saturday.  I believe that event starts at 8 a.m. and admission is $5/person.  They follow that up with a match Sunday vs Lipscomb, but I don't believe this one is open to the public.

Softball Drops Two vs North Carolina


I have several times wondered if it would be possible to travel with a team to be able to understand and write about the experience of road trips.

Then I see days like Sunday for Softball and I'm really glad I wasn't on that bus.

After winning a rain-delayed opener Saturday against UNC, the Cards dropped both games of the double-header yesterday.  It wasn't really for a lack of offense, with UofL scoring 5 and 6 in the games, but that wasn't enough to keep up with the Tarheels as they took the games 5-6 and 6-8.

UNC got things started early, putting three up in the 1st inning of the first game, and led 5-1 after 2 innings.  The run from was small ball for the Cards with a fielder's choice for Brittany Sims, a Jordan McNary single, before Jordan Vorbrink took advantage of a UNC error to get on.  While Sims would be put out at home on a Sidney Melton fielder's choice, Maryssa Becker would then get a walk to bring McNary home.  A score in the 3rd when a Lillie Goetz hit, and a Jenna Jordan walk set up Sims for an RBI single to score Goetz.

Things went quiet until the top of the 6th when the Cards would tie the game up at 5.  Sidney Melton got a single and was followed by a Becker double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd.  Jessica Adell pinch ran for Becker and would advance to 3rd while Melton scored on a wild pitch.  Adell put the 2nd run on the board on a sacrifice fly from Megan Hensley. Lillie Goetz started the base running up again when she got hit by a pitch, but got put out at 2nd on a fielder's choice where Jenna Jordan reached.  Nicole Pufahl shot one down the left field line to bring Jordan home.

The Cards had a chance to score in the 7th but couldn't make it happen.  UNC loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th with one out but a single ended the game.

In the 2nd game Megan Hensley said, "Climb aboard!", but it just wasn't enough.  She went 3 for 4, had two home runs and 4 RBIs, but the Cards just couldn't ever maintain a lead in the game.

UNC started with two runs on the board in the 1st, which was equalized in the top of the 2nd.  Lillie Goetz walked, Jenna Jordan singled, and Brittany Sims doubled to bring Goetz home.  Sidney Melton singled to bring Jordan home and the score was tied at two.  In the 3rd, Becker was walked, and Megan Hensley sent one to the far side of the fence to make it 4-2.  UNC came back with a vengeance with five straight hits in the 4th to take the lead.  No lead was safe in this game, though.  In the 5th, Jordan McNary reached and then Hensley parked another one on whatever equivalent UNC has to the Ulmer berm making the score 6-5. 

Of course, not even that lead was safe as UNC got the equalizer in the bottom half of the 5th frame.  A walk and four hits in the bottom of the 6th got UNC to the final tally of 8-6, and promises of a very somber bus and airplane ride on the way back home.  The Cards did load the bases twice in the top of the 7th, but couldn't get anyone home.

The Cards look to bounce back with a 5:30 game at Kentucky on Wednesday before coming back to Ulmer for a weekend series against Virginia Tech.

FINAL TWO


UConn and Syracuse will face Tuesday night for the NCAA women's basketball championship in Indy. Both looked impressive in their wins last night. 

Can Syracuse pull off the upset? If Peterson, Fondren and Butler are "on"...don't count them out. UConn will miss Samuelson but expect Geno to have an alternative solution.

We'll miss Washington's Chantel Osahor and her flat-footed three-ball...but it should be a test of wills tonight. Will the zone and defensive pressure Syracuse employs have any effect on the Huskies? Can UConn get the lead early and make the Orange play their game? 

We'll know in less than 48 hours. 

RADIO

IF you missed our Saturday broadcast on The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour...here's the link to the SoundCloud rebroadcast: 

LINK: https://soundcloud.com/chradio/cardinal-couple-20160402

A great show with Clay Barnes joining us in the studio and discussing his job as videographer for UofL athletics. 

JMcA





25 comments:

  1. Much as I'd love to see "Q" knock off Geno and Stewie, I'll say UConn by 32.

    No...wait...Samuelson is out. Make that UConn by 28.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to respectfully disagree here. This Syracuse team took a "not a victim" approach after Louisville dusted them up in the Carrier Dome during the regular season. They've lost once...to Notre Dame in the ACC Tournament final...since then.

      Peterson, Fondren and Butler are high-profile guards and shooters who have really stepped it up. Day sisters are holding their own inside. They can bring in Morrison and Ford off the bench to provide spark.

      I am looking at this with a glass half-full approach, obviously...and I'm a huge fan of "Q" as most of you know...but Syracuse plays with an abandon and just gets shots up...not woorrying about shooting percentages.

      Q's speech after the Louisville loss...where he emphasized that they would not be a victim anymore, that they were going to accept responsibility for their actions and if certain players weren't going to get on board then they would not see the court seemed to inspire them.

      Yes, UConn will probably win. I hope it is an exciting game though. UConn will miss Samuelson but Geno has plenty of other options. Go ACC.

      Paulie

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    2. Paulie, I hope I'm wrong. Oregon State had guards at least as good as Syracuse's, and Ruth Hamblin is lots better than either of the Day sisters, and you saw what happened...and that was with Stewie taking the first half off.

      Syracuse may have a significant advantage off the bench, but I'm not sure how important that advantage is.

      Delete
    3. I've also been impressed with Syracuse since the loss to Louisville. They're playing very well as a team. Whether that will be enough to stay within a dozen of mighty UConn remains to be seen but as you mentioned Paulie if they are on and the guards are causing commotion then it should be a fun game to watch. When I saw Washington's big and slow front liners I knew the Cuse would romp them and they did outrun them all night.

      We have been having a wonderful time up here in Indy and have reservations for St. Elmo's Steak House tonight. Looking forward to getting together with you and Sonja on Wednesday Paulie in the Ville.

      The Real Joe Hill

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    4. Make sure and hit 9 Irish Brothers bar while there, Joe. Also looking forward to Wednesday night.

      Paaulie

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    5. Funny you should mention that. We were there Saturday night and had some great fish and chips. Also downed a couple of Black and Tans in your absence. Great place. Excellent Irish band playing too.

      The Real Joe Hill

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    6. I hear what your saying about Syracuse Paulie. What a goof I am. I said Suracuse stunk and as you pointed out since then only one loss. UCONN by 25.

      Delete
    7. Mike D. All over it with your initial 32 point UCONN win. 28 wasn't bad either

      Delete
  2. This is off topic, but has Coach Walz had his end of the year presser yet?

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    Replies
    1. Not yet but he jumped right back into recruiting after the Tournament run and is probably in Indy now? We're trying to get in and see him for a few minutes this week but he hasn't responded yet.

      Paulie

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    2. Tell him the fans are waiting on a "state of the union" address from him!

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    3. Maybe he's waiting to see who else transfers. A couple of more coming wouldn't you think?

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    4. Possibly. Coach Sam Williams posted a short clip of the team working out and everyone was there but Taja.

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    5. I will be STUNNED with incredulity if there are not more departures to come from the roster. I did notice there are a few teams that have 15 on the roster
      I went to a few Sacramento State games (can you believe it) and they looked like they had 20 dressed on the bench. They run in 5 new players every 5 minutes. Saw UCLA play them. That was fun

      Delete
    6. I hope in Coach Sam clip Mariya was dribbling w left hand and Asia shooting right hand lay ups

      Delete
    7. I love seeing Hines-Allen make shots with her off hand. Sam can do it around the basket with no problem. That's a good sign.

      Delete
  3. Too little too late as UConn just does not get the same fouls called on them as are called on others, as I have watched slow motion replays way too often, but on rare occasions it comes back to bite.

    I watched slow mo of the Samuelson foot injury. It occurred during a shooting move where if a very blatant rebounding foul that was responsible for her having possession of the ball to begin with had been called there would have been no injury to her.

    This non-called foul was different as she low bodied the previously in position defender to get a rebound where very often UConn's non-called fouls are where they pull on the arms of the offensive player as that player makes a move away from them.

    Last night Weiss picked up her 3rd foul when xalled for a charge on a UConn player whose feet were still hopping around to get in better position. Then spent trip up floor with big smile on her face for getting another gifted call. To be so good, why should they need so much help from the stripes? Oregon State coach should have been chewing on refs all nihht long. Only chance he had to get anywhere close.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess it will depend on the officials assigned to the game. Dee Canter calls them as she sees them ... Regardless of the name on the front of the jersey. So do the Interline brothers. If it's Billy Smith, expect anything.

      Paulie

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  4. Kristine Inigwe almost unanimous selection for Freshman of the Year. 20 points 9 rebounds. Propelled Cal to two wins in PAC 12 tourney including upset of AZ STATE before falling in OT to UCLA
    Can believe UConns Samuelson got ESPNW's vote. Inigwe twice as many points three times rebounds and double teamed as a Freshman. ITS AN OUTRAGE!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ridiculous - yes. Surprised - not one bit. ESPN and UConn have been joined at the hip for years and that won't change any time soon.

      Delete
    2. I graciously accept the Cardinal Couple Pick 'Em first place honors and will wear the tiara with pride. Ha Ha. I did pick UConn to win it all and I'd be glad to share first place if Viva Q can get Syracuse to the title.

      ESPN is all UConn all the time. You could see how good Anigwe was going to be when she played for Staley and Walz in Europe last summer and she played well against Louisville earlier this year. Samuelson? She shoots threes and is a good team player but defensively has a long way to go and is no Stewie Stewart -- that's for sure. The Deb Factor

      Delete
  5. Paulie I think I remember you saying Azura Stevens credited Walz with helping her inside game while coaching in Europe. Maybe that might be enough for her to consider us? Just remembered we're same conference. Is that like forbidden or some unwritten rule

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    Replies
    1. As I understand it. Coaches can grant releases so the players don't have to sit out a year. Those releases can be conditional and frequently specify that the player can't go to a conference foe (too much familiarity of the team's system to let them go to a team that will certainly be on the schedule the next year). Also, *if* it's an in-conference transfer, the conference also has to give a release for that transfer as well...if it's a transfer to another conference, then the conference leadership doesn't have a say. Both coaches and the conference can issue the releases, but if the player goes to another conference, then the coach is much more likely to release, and it removes the conference from the equation entirely.

      Delete
  6. A bit surprised at the volleyball news...maybe less so Maya than Aniah.

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  7. Well WCBB loses a Junior to WNBA. Our opponent next year Mich State will be much easier and less exciting to handle with Aerial Powers going pro and entering draft. Great for her bad for college basketball

    ReplyDelete

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