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Sunday, April 8, 2018

Sunday Cardinal Couple - Go Away Winter

Spring Has Sprung

OK, maybe not so you would know it.  A rundown of Spring and Fall sports action today.  Fall sports are in action in their spring exhibition schedule for the most part, so we don't have stat sheets and the usual aids in analyzing performance, but we'll give you a sense of things.


Volleyball had their 3rd event of their spring schedule yesterday here in Louisville at the Ohio Valley Volleyball Center, which is KIVA's home facility.  This is the annual KIVA Collegiate Showcase, and it's an event that UofL has participated in for many years.  It bring together typically somewhere between 15-20 college teams to play at least 3 2 set matches.  Most of the teams that come to this event, and let's face it, most spring exhibition play exhibits this tendency, are regional.

The event yesterday had 17 teams in attendance.  The most distant teams were probably Memphis and Michigan State.  Some of the other teams from closer points of origin included UofL's opponents for the day, IU, Xavier, and WKU.  Some other teams included Bowling Green State (Ohio), Tennessee (who played each other in one match...the orangeness was overwhelming), Northern Kentucky, Kentucky, Ohio State, Eastern Kentucky, Lipscomb, Dayton (current home of former UofL assistant Coach Alyssa D'errico), and several more.

While these are played as real games, they obviously don't count in the record books, so the emphasis is less on winning and more on preparation for the fall.  Your intrepid reporter wasn't always in a position to be able to see the score being kept for the game, so I don't have specific results for that.

Let's talk about what happened on the court for the Cards, though.

First, what is the team doing to accommodate the lose of 4 seniors (Tess Clark, Maggie DeJo
ng, Gabbie Wiley, and Colene Coessens).  Between Tess and Maggie, UofL has lost the services of a middle blocker/hitter, and an outside hitter (they flip-flopped these positions the past couple of season).  In the middle, Piper Roe impressed, particularly on the blocking side of the equation.  She has clearly been the 3rd middle on the team for the past couple of years and has stepped up into the role beautifully already.  Jasmine Bennett continues to hold down the middle on the other half of the rotation.  Replacing Gabbie hasn't been a question of putting another player in her place, instead Coach Busboom Kelly seems to have adjusted the roles of some of the players to cover that Defensive position...specifically by asking Melanie McHenry and Amanda Green to play full rotation, which they did some in the fall, and to be more aggressive in covering defensive assignments.  Both have stepped up well to this challenge.  Both McHenry and Green were good, though not necessarily great, players in the defensive role, and both handled that role with the added intensity well yesterday.  This shift in alignment also has the added benefit of saving some substitutions during the rotation to give the coaching staff more leeway later in sets to make changes as need to address specific shortcomings.  Colene Coessens was mostly a serving specialist, so doesn't necessarily need someone to specifically cover that role.  We did see Natalie Palastro and Akela Yuhl come in to add some serving skills to the mix.

There are almost always some personnel changes to the roster in between fall and spring, and this year is no exception.  Alexia Byrnes and Kali Eaken have both departed the team to play at Youngstown State and Wichita State respectively.  There have been two additions to the Cards roster as well, with Marijke Van Dyke joining the team from Illinois, and Brianna Lester REjoining the team from Pepperdine.  Marijke comes in as a solid outside hitter after playing a year at Illinois.  While she didn't start for the Cards yesterday for the most part, we did see her on the court quite a bit and her contributions were impressive.  She's a strong outside hitter and will contribute quite a bit to the Cards in the next few years.  Brianna Lester, who was a two-sport athlete in high school (volleyball and basketball), left UofL after a red-shirt freshman year, and transferred to Pepperdine to play basketball.  She has come back to UofL to switch back to volleyball.  Lester is taller than I realized when I was speaking about her yesterday on the radio show, and plays a different position than I remembered.  At 5'11", she's a middle hitter.  We saw her play some behind Piper Roe and Jasmine Bennett yesterday.  5'11" is a little short for the middle, but she makes up for it with some serious hops.  UofL has a history and tradition of high jumping middles, with Jasmine Bennett, Gwen Rucker, and Lecia Brown all coming to mind as great leapers, so Brianna will fit right in with that history.

The Volleyball squad will be wrapping up their spring play next Saturday evening at 6:30pm at Cardinal arena vs Butler.  This is a free event, non-ticketed, just walk up and walk in.  Concessions will not be available, so plan your munchie accordingly, but you should definitely come out to enjoy some fun volleyball action.

Field Hockey

Field Hockey was in action in spring exhibition play at Trager stadium yesterday.  Start of play in the morning was pushed back slightly so they could have time to clear the roughly inch of snow that fell on the field overnight.  It's time for Winter to go has overstayed its welcome.

FH played two yesterday, with other teams mixing in other games in between.  UofL started the day with a 1-1 tie with Miami, and after watching a couple of other games with other teams involved, ended the day with a 2-2 tie against Michigan.

They will be in action again today, with no new snow to contend with, playing Michigan State at 9am, and Michigan at 1:30pm.

Spring Results

On to some events that are actually recording results.


Coach Pearsall's squad absolutely demolished UVA on the field at Ulmer Stadium.  Due to the overnight snows, this series has been rather uncertain and changing in its scheduling, but the teams did play yesterday.

UofL scored 16 in only 4 innings of offense, invoking the Softball run rule with a score of 16-1 after 4 1/2 innings.  The tone was really set in the bottom of the 1st, when got a hit to reach, then advanced around to 3rd on a pair of wild pitches.  Maddy Newman walked, then stole 2nd, putting two in scoring position.  Caitlin Ferguson scored them both with a double.  Megan Hensley came to the plate and scored Fergy with a double.  Hensley would then score on a sacrifice fly.

The tone for UVA may have been most exemplified by the 2nd inning Cards at-bat, with a repeat of much of the same cast of characters.  Melton walked, Newman was hit by a pitch, and Fergy walked to load up the bases.  Hensley took a shot to the fence in center, and combined with Nicole Pufahl taking one beyond the fence to get all 5 of the characters in our 2nd inning story around the basepaths.

The rest of the game continued in much the same sort of vein for UVA.

The teams will finish off the already-decided series with a game today at noon.


Lacrosse took a 16-6 loss at North Carolina yesterday in yet another reminder of the brutality of the ACC conference schedule in this sport.

Caroline Blalock and Ally Hall each got a pair of goals, but it wasn't enough for the Cards who are looking for their first conference win.  UNC sits at 9-3 overall and 4-1 in conference.

The other two goals for the Cards came from Sarah Blalock (yes, they're sisters, and yes, they're twins...fraternal), and Julia Wood.

The Lax squad will continue the search for conference win number 1, and have Senior Day, if you can believe that, already, against Virginia, Saturday at noon.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

 Another phone-call filled Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday.  Case joined in from his Achilles limited position on his couch, while I took a few minutes to step away from Volleyball action to call in as well.  Paulie was joined in the studio by comic friend John Maupin.  You can check out the Facebook livestream at:


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