Volleyball Earns Sweeps in First Two Matches of Season
Louisville Volleyball opened their season yesterday in the Cardinal Classic, hosting three teams in Cardinal Arena. Louisville played their first game against UT Martin and showed the fans on hand that last season's performances were no fluke by putting together a dominant performance against the outmatched Skyhawks. The Cards finished the match hitting .478 as a team and had a whopping 10 aces. UT Martin was outscored 75-36 over the duration of the match, with the closest game of the three coming at 25-17.
Despite Melanie McHenry and Amanda Green both finishing with 9 kills, it was really Piper Roe who paced the office, converting 8/11 attempts with no errors to finish the night with 8 kills and a .727 hitting percentage. Roe also added 5 block assists and a dig to round out a very solid match. My player of the match would have to be Wilma Rivera, though. Rivera picked up right where she left off and finished the first match of the day with 2 kills (on 2 attempts), 23 assists, 4 aces, 2 blocks, and 7 digs. Rivera was the Setter of the Year last year and it is good to see her come out of the gate strong.
Unfortunately..we found out before the first game, Louisville lost a key contributor on defense in Alexis Hamilton. It was confirmed by her family at the later game that Hamilton tore her ACL and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Look for Coach Dani Busboom-Kelly to apply a medical redshirt to Hamilton this year to give the sophomore an additional year of playing time.
In their second match last night, Louisville took on the Salukis of SIU. The team from Illinois put up a bit more of a fight, scoring a total of 42 points, and pushing one game to 25-19, but in the end, Louisville walked away with a second sweep. The Cards again hit well as a team with a .443 performance, and finished the second match with 7 aces. Unfortunately, the aces were outnumbered by service errors, and you know that I like to look for the bad in the good to find things the team can improve.
Despite her effectiveness in the first match, Piper Roe did not start the second match. Roe came away ok with her limited opportunities, though, earning a kill on 4 of 6 attempts, but erring on the other two. It was Emily Scott that started in place of Roe and Jasmine Bennett that played a similar game to Piper. Bennett finished the match with 10 kills on 15 attempts with just one error for a .600 hitting percentage. McHenry and Green were again strong, with 10 and 8 kills respectively, and Rivera again put together a solid match with 38 assists. The new transfer, Marijke Van Dyke, finished the second match completing 4/5 attempts with no errors and may find herself moving up the depth chart if such success continues.
Louisville will wrap the Cardinal Classic today against IUPUI at 5PM and will look for another strong outing. Winning 9 straight sets would be a good way to start the season. I will be looking for the Cards to perform better in the second set, as that was where the best games came from both opponents yesterday. Jeff will have plenty more to say about this opening weekend in his writeup tomorrow so be sure to check back in then!
Field Hockey Defeats Indiana in Opener 2-1
The Cards opened and closed the scoring yesterday with both goals coming on converted penalty corners. Shout out to the box score play-by-play for calling them "penalty kicks". Maybe they let Paulie at the controls for a moment. Louisville's first goal came after 23 minutes from Bethany Russ. Russ was active on the ball yesterday, taking a total of 6 shots and putting 2 of them on frame.
The Louisville lead would last only 4 minutes, as Indiana scored a goal in the run of play after a bad pass from the defense led to an open breakaway. To the potential surprise of many, Ayeisha McFerran heard her number called yesterday to start the game in goal. She gave up the one goal (but it is hard to blame a goalkeeper for getting scored on in a one-on-one situation) but finished the game with 4 saves, including 3 during a tied second half.
After Indiana's goal, the two teams went on the be frustrated for about 43 minutes before Louisville's Erica Cooper prevented overtime with a goal with no time on the clock. Louisville was awarded a penalty corner as time expired, and field hockey rules state that the penalty awarded team must be allowed an untimed play to complete their offensive attack. Indiana was unable to clear the ball, and a second attempt from Cooper saw her loft a shot over the IU keeper for a buzzer beating goal. It was the first goal of the freshman Cooper's career at UofL, and it came at a pretty good time for the Cards.
The goal gave Louisville a 40% completion rate on penalty corners for the day while the Cards successfully defended all 5 attempts from the Hoosiers. The defense for this team will be a strong point for Louisville, but the passing and possession out of the back will need to be cleaned up to prevent more open attempts like came in the first half of yesterday's game. It was good to see McFerran back in the goal so quickly and playing well when it was expected that she would miss a few games.
Louisville field hockey is back in action tomorrow at 1PM against Ohio State at Trager Stadium. The game is available on ACC Network Extra.
Rouse and England Place Third
Like Ayeisha McFerran, Mollie Rouse will be returning from international duty with some hardware in tow. The Young Lionnesses were bumped from the finals in a defeat by Japan earlier this week, but took on the host team France in the third place game yesterday morning. Japan went on to defeat Spain 3-1 in the championship. It took penalties for England against France after the teams were tied at 1 with both goals coming in the second half. England converted 4 of their 5 penalties in the shootout and held France to just 2 of 4 (the last kick by the hosts being moot). Rouse will likely not return to the squad before tomorrow's match against Michigan, but may be back with the team by Friday's match against Kentucky. Match fitness shouldn't be an issue after starting nearly every game for England, but her team cohesion, as mentioned before, may be. However, with the surprising speed of McFerran's return to the field hockey starting lineup, I'll be keeping an eye on Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes onboarding of Rouse. The Cards take on Michigan tomorrow at 2PM. No video is listed for the game.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
We're without Jared today, but should have plenty to fill our Cardinal Couple Radio Hour as more fall sports have gotten underway. We'll talk women's soccer, volleyball, and field hockey as all three have been active and will do our best to generally present the joy and excitement of Louisville women's sports. As always, join us on WCHQ at 11AM via 100.9 FM, wchqfm.com, the WCHQ app, or on Facebook Live.
Until next time, Go Cards!