Louisville Sweeps NC State in Battle for First Place
|The starters do their pregame ritual.
(Courtesy Jared Anderson)
After constant badgering by my fellow Cardinal Couplers to make it out to a Louisville women's sporting event that isn't soccer, I promised I would make my way to the Louisville/NC State volleyball match. It's not that I don't like the other sports. I quite enjoy watching them and often do on my laptop. It's just that it is often tough to find the time in my schedule to drive over to campus to watch the games. Last night, though, I upheld my promise and stepped foot in the Student Activities Center for the first time since before I received my undergrad degree. After being told the best place to park was the Floyd Street Garage, I headed across the Watterson to campus.
There were pedestrians abound as the field hockey final four matches were just wrapping up. Because of the final four and the volleyball match, signs saying "$5 Event Parking" were posted near the garage. I turned in, pulled up to the man taking money, and asked "Do you take card?" He looked at me with disgust and said "No. Is that all you have? No cash at all?" I informed him of the measly $1 bill sitting in my wallet. "Go all the way to the top and pay me on your way out." I'm sure the kind man didn't expect me to pay him on my way out, but I got cash from the ATM just to do so after the match. He wasn't there. If you want to ensure that you don't let people park for free, a sign saying "Cash Only" would probably be wise. Or just don't try to extort money from people at every opportunity, especially in a parking area that would otherwise be free to students and visitors alike after a certain time of day.
|Jeff and Vivian McAdams and I talk pregame.
(Courtesy Jared Anderson)
After receiving my student ticket, I ran into Jeff, who was kind enough to extend an offer to sit with him and his mother Vivian, a regular of the site. The people who owned the season tickets next to them apparently never go, so there was plenty of room. I was appreciative that I wouldn't have to sit in the awkward endzone balcony all alone. I got my happy hour beer and settled in. After the National Anthem and player introductions--Gabbie Wiley threw her little mini ball pretty much directly to me and I handed it to the little girl in front of me--we settled in for what we expected to be a tough match between two ACC leaders.
Louisville promptly served up an error to open the match. It was fine, though, because it would prove to be NC State that couldn't get out of their own way for the rest of the match. The Wolfpack ended with a whopping 24 errors in the match and hit only .110. Giving 24 points to your opponent is a pretty good way to get swept, and Louisville was able to capitalize on those errors, committing only 10 of their own. Louisville added 13 team blocks to the stat sheet, absolutely dominating at the net. These blocks included two jousts that Wilma Rivera shoved straight back at NCST middle hitters and two cheeky, quick kill attempts that the NCST setter had sent right back down her throat. Louisville came prepared to play, and they seemed to execute their game plan extremely well.
|Louisville squares up one of 13 blocks.
(Courtesy Jared Anderson)
Louisville's stranglehold on the match was only really in question in the second set, when NC State stretched out a 12-17 lead. They had led most of the set due to Louisville being a bit out of sorts, but went on a run to put the set in jeopardy. Louisville responded with a five point run to tie the set, then won 6 of the next 8 points to stretch out their own lead at 22-19. NC State couldn't recover and the Cards won 25-22. The third set was much less fun for the Wolfpack as Louisville jumped out to an early 5-2 lead and never really looked back. NC State was able to cut it to 8-6 at one point but it was never that close again, and Louisville won 25-15.
Unsurprisingly, Melanie McHenry was the statistical MVP in this one. I feel like I've written that phrase after almost every match, but seeing her play in person I could understand why. As Vivian remarked to me early in the match, "She's a competitor." McHenry plays with a fire on the floor and she was determined to win last night. At one point in the first set, NC State hit it straight at her 3 times in a row and she blocked all three. NC State finally went to the other side. McHenry finished with 13 kills, 1 ace, 6(!) blocks, 7 digs, and hit .343. She had only one error and was on the floor for all 131 points. Absolute warrior. Maggie DeJong also came up big with 7 kills and 6 blocks and Molly Sauer and Wilma Rivera were their typical star shining selves.
|The Cards celebrate their big win. (Courtesy Jared Anderson)
Louisville now sits alone with Pittsburgh atop the ACC. They are in complete control of their own destiny, as winning out would give them the ACC automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. If Pittsburgh loses a match (which is unlikely since the rest off their schedule is a cakewalk), Louisville also has the luxury of remaining on top with a loss, because they now hold the tiebreaker over both Pitt and NC State. No one else can join the tie without Louisville and Pitt losing all of their remaining games. Louisville looks to get one step closer to that conference championship when they take on North Carolina tomorrow at 1PM. UNC, if you remember, is the team that was able to reverse sweep the Cards, giving them one of their two ACC losses. The Cards will be looking to avenge the match they should have won on Senior Day. The match will be available on ACC Network Extra if you are unable to make it out.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We're in the studio today at 11AM to bring to you the joy and excitement of Louisville women's sports. We've got a lot of women's basketball wins to go on about as well as more about last night's volleyball victory. Jeff will have audio from his postgame interview with head coach Dani Busboom-Kelly and Paulie will likely have postgame from basketball. Tune into WCHQ FM however you feel most comfortable, via 100.9 on your FM radio, the WCHQ app, or WCHQFM.com.
Also remember, as Thanksgiving approaches, that Cardinal Couple is thankful for all the donations we have received and may receive throughout the rest of this donation month and any other time throughout the year. You all give us the platform to spew our thoughts and opinions on Louisville women's sports and your donations help us achieve the coverage that we do as well as accomplish other goals that we have. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Until next time, Go Cards!