Volleyball Loses, But Improves
Case touched on the volleyball loss to Minnesota from Friday, and Saturday was a partly more of the same, another three game loss by the Cards (25-19, 26-24, 25-20), but the tone and gameplay was considerably different.
First, let's point out that Wisconsin, the victors of the match last night, is a very good team, led by, as I've mentioned before, in my estimation the best setter in the country in Lauren Carlini. Wisconsin currently sports a number 2 ranking behind perennial powerhouse Nebraska.
This was definitely a battle of defenses. Louisville hit for a pitiful total of .094, while Wisconsin was only able to muster an also pretty bad .155. Consequently, what may be the bright spot for the Cards is Molly Sauer's 19 digs, which in the 3-set match is darn impressive. Melanie McHenry contributed 11 as well, which is very good for a non-libero. Both teams also had a pretty impressive blocking game going, with UofL being credited with 13 blocks, and Wisconsin listed for 13.5. The Louisville blocks were a bit more evenly spread. The only solo credit goes to McHenry, while she and Janelle Jenkins each got in for 4 shares, Morgan Miller contributed on 3, and our middles Tess Clark and at least for this weekend featured the return of Maggie DeJong to the middle, got 6 apiece. Coline Coessens got in on one as well.
Unfortunately the stats look pretty bleak beyond that, certainly our hitting percentages weren't great as hinted at above. The bright spots are Maggie DeJong with 4 kills for a .200 avg, and Janelle Jenkins with 14 on 43 attempts for a .209 avg. Nothing really to write home about in either case, but against a great team like Wisconsin with strong blocking, it's not bad. Morgan Miller hit for a .500 avg, but that was only on 2 attempts, so it's a bit misleading.
What may be the worst look on the stat sheet is in the service errors. In a 3-set match, to have 12 service errors is painful. And that number alone almost accounts for the score differences in the sets. Kordes has this team serving very aggressively, mostly to pretty good effect (Remember, aggressive serving doesn't just result, hopefully, in service aces, but also in the other team having to be out of system, which isn't covered in stats), but they may need to dial it back a little and get the errors under a bit more control.
Let's not forget, however, that stats sheets don't tell the whole tale. Blocks, for example, only record play ending blocks, not deflections and tips that make it easier to pass the ball, which is one of the ways that the Kordes Krewe did much better last night vs Friday night against Minnesota. Also, UofL was without the services of two starters this weekend. Kali Eaken and Jasmine Bennett were not available. Word is that Bennett was ill and didn't make the trip, but no word on Eaken, presumably something similar. Losing Bennett for the weekend is a bit of a blow, but the only real shift in the lineup was to move Maggie DeJong back into the middle, a position with which she has a lot of familiarity. The loss of Eaken for the weekend is a bit trickier to deal with, partly because that setter to hitter connection is so critical, and as a new setting squad, not well established for the Cards. This is also the 3rd match out of the 8 so far that UofL has been without Eaken, which doesn't help establish a rhythm. Last night, the Cards compensated by using both of the other setters on the squad. This wasn't quite a 6-2 offense, as the goal of the 6-2 is to keep your setter in the back-row at all times, leaving 3 attackers in the front row. In this case, the Cards subbed the setters for each other, so Lindsey Palmer was setting from the back-row, but when the position came around to the front-row, Morgan Miller subbed in for Palmer to do the setting in front. Why? The concern primarily is that Lindsey Palmer is only 5'8", and frankly is a bit of liability for blocking, while Miller, with 4 inches of height on Palmer, can participate in the blocking scheme to much better effect. The switching of the setters does complicate that setter to hitter connection even further, though. Despite all of that, however, we do see that improving as the matches pass, though there still is work to be done, there. Hopefully the return of Eaken to the starting line-up will help that further.
One minor note to follow up on something noticed by some fans last weekend. Brianna Lester was not present during The Active Ankle Challenge at the KFC Yum! Center last week. I did spot her on the sidelines in the stream last night, so all appears to be well with her. No word on her absence last weekend, but again, it likely is something as simple as an illness.
The Wide Net Cards are back in action this Thursday when Kentucky comes to town. UK also started the season in the Top 25 rankings and subsequently dropped out. A 4-set loss to Marquette on Friday probably won't help their cause any in that respect. Hopefully the Cards can get back to their winning ways in this match, particularly vs Kentucky, who haven't been beaten by UofL since 2012.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We were at it again yesterday. Paulie, Case, and myself all back in the studio and less distracted all did an hour on the radio again talking about the joy and excitement of UofL Women's Athletics.
It was a good show, covering Football, Volleyball, Soccer, and Field Hockey. Check it out!
College Gameday Coming to The Ville
We got the official announcement this morning that ESPN College Gameday is coming to Louisville for their first ever Gameday broadcast at UofL. The game is set for a noon tip, but there is some question of whether that will be moved.