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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Field Hockey Advances, Volleyball Sweeps -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cardinal Couple Donation Month

As I joined the Cardinal Couple team last year, this is my second Cardinal Couple Donation Month. Last November, whenever I wrote, I left it to Paulie to fill in this section. As I've taken on a more consistent role with CC, though, I feel just as comfortable writing this as I expect Jeff or Paul would be. We say every week on the radio, and periodically throughout the week on the site, that YOU, the readers, are Cardinal Couple. Without you all, everyone writing for this site would be just voices spouting off into the ether. Heck, maybe we still are, but your comments and kind words keep us going. When it comes to all of the behind the scenes part of the site, unfortunately, just comments aren't enough. 

One of my favorite follows on Twitter is Shea Serrano. He's a former writer for Grantland, current staff writer for The Ringer, and 2x NYT Best Seller. He's also hilarious and supportive of other people wanting to get into writing. One of his biggest pieces of advice is to not write for free. He and I must have different definitions of free, though. I don't collect a paycheck. I didn't get into this expecting one. I don't need or want one to do this. My pay is a media pass, if I want it, to cover the uncovered Louisville sports. Oftentimes, the sports we cover get no further press from their own university than the recap post on the Louisville athletics website. 

Paulie, with the help of others, put together this brainchild and has grown it to what it is today. For those of you that check in often, you see what he does to bring you the news and coverage that he does. The rest of us can't quite offer his same level of commitment, but we do our best. When we have donation month, don't consider it begging, and please don't think that you have to help fund our endeavors entirely by yourself, dear reader. If everyone gave whatever they thought was fair to help keep us going (keep in mind we don't have ad revenue or anything like that), we'd be more than appreciative.

Volleyball Gets Road Win at Wake Forest

As Jeff mentioned on last week's radio show, the Louisville volleyball team needs only to win to stay atop the ACC. After an extended break, they showed that they were completely capable of continuing to do so, sweeping Wake Forest in Winston Salem yesterday afternoon. Wake Forest is no world beater, with an ACC record now of 3-10 and an overall record three games below 0.500, but Louisville struggled with even the lowest teams last season. In fact, Louisville was one of the lowest teams last season. One of the marks of a good team is beating the teams you are supposed to without significant opposition. Louisville defeated Wake with the closest game being decided by six points.

Louisville started the match trading points with the Demon Deacons for the most part, before the Cards put together separate 5-0 and 4-0 runs to extend their lead and win the set 25-16. Louisville hit 0.567 in the set, so good luck to any team having to face that kind of efficiency. The second set started much like the first, with teams working each other down, drawing near to 10 points each, before Louisville set off another extended run to distance themselves. This time, Louisville hit only 0.267 in the 25-15 win, but Wake's 0.000 made them much less of a threat. The third set was the closest of the match, both in points and hitting percentage. Louisville ended up winning the set 25-19 to complete the sweep, but hit only 0.175 to Wakes's 0.111. This time, Louisville actually trailed early before drawing level and then using yet another large run to get out front. Once ahead, the Cards traded points with the Deacs until Louisville reached the magic number.

A few things were concerning to me despite the sweep. Louisville's hitting numbers continually declined in the three sets of the match. Extrapolation is dangerous, but if Wake had managed to squeak out a win in the third set, there was potential for Louisville to continue hitting worse and give the match away. Fortunately, they didn't do that, and there's no real way to know if that would have happened. I would just prefer to see a bit more consistency in the hitting. The second concerning thing was that Melanie McHenry hit only 0.059 with 5 kills. She is usually a rock for the offense, so her swoon could be dangerous for the team if it lasts longer than this match. The silver lining is that the rest of the team was able to makeup for her struggles, but you don't want to continue trying to compete for a conference title with one of your best players struggling. Finally, the fact that Louisville depended so much on large runs surprises me. Obviously, against lesser teams, I expect the Cards to go on big runs, but I expect them to do it consistently with opponent points intermingled. I don't expect them to need long runs to come from behind or stretch out a lead mid match. Maybe I'm being picky, but I guess it goes with consistent hitting. Louisville is a good team, and they need to cut down on errors to keep the ball in their control and win big. 

Louisville continues to strive for a conference title as they head to Duke tomorrow. Duke is 16-8 this season, 8-5 in conference, but are currently riding a five game win streak. Louisville will go into Blue Devil Country to try to shut down that win streak and extend their own streak to five. The match starts at 1PM and is available on ACC Network Extra.

Field Hockey Gets Revenge Against Duke

After a rough 5-0 loss to the Blue Devils earlier this year, Louisville field hockey got the last laugh when they took down Duke in a shootout yesterday in Trager Stadium to advance to the ACC Championship game. This huge win comes just after Louisville won their first ever ACC tournament game against Syracuse on Thursday. Now the Cards will look to beat North Carolina for the second time this year when they face off in the championship game at 1PM (marking the 3rd Louisville event at 1PM on 11/5. Hope you have enough screens.). Regardless of tomorrow's result, Louisville has put themselves in a much better position going into NCAA tournament selection season.

Ayeisha McFerran deserves a tip of the cap from everyone in the field hockey world after yesterday's performance. Looking at offensive stats, Duke looked as though they'd blow Louisville away. The Blue Devils had 31 shots, with 20 on goal. Louisville finished with 8 and 4. Duke had 11 corners to Louisville's 2. By the end of regulation, Duke had taken 16 shots to Louisville's 6. However, the Cards had the score tied at 2-2. In two sudden death overtimes, Louisville fended off 15 shots from Duke. The Cards then won the shootout 4-3. Ayeisha McFerran finished the game with 18 saves, an absolutely stunning effort. Credit also goes out to the Louisville defense for the efforts in the game. 

Louisville's regulars were to thank for their two goals, with the scores coming from Marisa Martin Pelegrina and Minout Mink. Shootout goals game from Nicole Woods, Martin Pelegrina, Madison Walsh, and Mink. Louisville will need continuing strong efforts from both the offense and defense for the remainder of this postseason. They've already made history in winning their first ACC tournament game and advancing to their first ever ACC championship game. Here's hoping that they can make even more and potentially win their first ACC and NCAA championships, both of which will be held on their home turf. 

Check out Jared Anderson's Facebook page for some great photos from yesterday's win!

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

As it may be clear, we'll have plenty to talk about on today's Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. We'll get things started at 11AM on 100.9 WCHQ FM. You can also find the show on the WCHQ app and Tune in for fun and games as we cover all I've talked about today and more.

Until next time, Go Cards!

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