Volleyball Takes Two at Stacey Clark Classic
After the women's soccer team fell at Purdue Thursday night, Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes squad probably passed Coach Dani Busboom Kelly and the Louisville Volleyball team somewhere on I-65. The Net Cards headed up to Purdue for a three match set yesterday and today, taking on Lipscomb, Xavier, and Purdue.
Louisville played Lipscomb in the first match of the tournament yesterday at noon and may have been looking ahead to the other two matches a bit. Lipscomb made themselves seen and refused to be walked over by the better team in Louisville. In fact, the Bisons were able to take an extended third set off of the Cards at 28-30 and led 18-14 and 22-21 in the final set before Louisville was able to wake up and finish the match. Louisville ultimately took the match 3-1, but played a much closer match than I'm sure they anticipated.
As is to be expected in a match that goes additional sets, the final raw numbers were a bit higher than normal. Melanie McHenry led the Cards with 17 kills and was followed by Jasmine Bennett (14) and Megan Sloan (10). Molly Sauer added 5 (!!) service aces to her 23 digs and 5 assists, and Emily Scott contributed to 9 of 13 team blocks. Lipscomb did not have the ability to take Wilma Rivera out of her typical role as she assisted 45 of the team's 59 kills and added 2 kills of her own.
As a match that the Cards ultimately won, it is hard to find exactly where they went wrong. They won the first two sets 25-20 and 25-14, but after that they may have forgotten that it was a best of five series. Errors are easy to point at as a culprit, as the Cards committed only 4 total in the first two sets followed by 7 and 5 in the third and fourth respectively, but there is more to it than that. I don't think Lipscomb suddenly got a lot better during the halftime break, so it is definitely something to look out for in the future. Earlier in the season, Louisville was having trouble getting out of second sets. Now do we have to worry about them looking past lower tier teams? Let's hope not.
In the second match of the day for the Cards, they took on the Musketeers of Xavier. Xavier was 1-5 coming into the match and they left it at 1-6. Ultimately, they put up no real resistance to the Cards, with Louisville completing the sweet 25-18, 25-15, 25-14. Xavier's best hitting percentage in the match came in the first set when they hit .074. Both other sets were negative. In addition to Xavier's best hitting set, Louisville committed 7 errors in the first set, leading to the relative closeness of that score. The Cards cleaned it up a bit after that and walked out of the building with two wins. They'll take on Purdue, the biggest test of the weekend tonight at 7:30PM.
Once again, Melanie McHenry led the way with 15 kills, this time with no one joining her in double digits. Claire Chaussee was closest with 8. Melanie had a very big game, completing one of her highest hitting percentages of the season at .440. I know that Xavier was a very down team, but being able to complete kills and find spots even against a bad team is important. If you can do it against an inferior opponent, you have a better chance of doing it against better teams.
Wilma Rivera was called on to get 6 digs in this one, second only to Molly Sauer's 9, but she was still able to contribute 28 assists out of the team's 35 on 40 kills, so it's safe to say she was still comfortably in her role. The Cards again put up double digit team blocks with 12 but had far too many service and hitting errors.
While I just made a case about Louisville overlooking lower tier teams and then talked about them thumping Xavier, I still think the point is valid. Xavier is very bad, and Louisville still was not the cleanest against them. Had Xavier been of the talent level of Lipscomb, the match probably would have been very similar. Louisville will play tough matches and they will play less tough matches in the ACC. The goal is to always win the games that you should, and I would hate for the Cards to drop matches that they shouldn't due to a lack of focus. There is still plenty of time to get it together this season, but they'll need to do so relatively quickly if they'd like another shot at an ACC title.
Field Hockey Falls To UNC
Louisville began their conference season the same way that they ended it last year: a loss to North Carolina. The Cards actually struck first in this one with a goal by Katie Schneider, assisted by Madison Walsh, 10 minutes into the game. Unfortunately, that goal would be one of only three shots on goal the Cards could muster as the Tar Heels dominated for most of the rest of the game.
The majority of the action (and all of the scoring) came in the first half, as UNC put up 12 total shots. They scored three times in the half, and 3-1 would be the final score. UNC was content to come out of the half playing more defensively, as they only put up 4 shots in the second half, even while winning 4 corners. Ayeisha McFerran started in goal and finished the game with 6 saves. One of the UNC goals came off of a rebound off of McFerran's pads and another came from penalty corner. Both are hard to blame on McFerran and the turnover in Louisville's defense may be starting to show. The Cards have always been a strong defensive team but now have two losses where they've given up three goals in a single half.
There is not much good to glean from this match. North Carolina was able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. They are the number 2 team, sure, but Louisville was number 11 and you'd like to see UNC have to work for it a bit. The Cards were outshot convincingly 16-5 (10-3 SOG) and that's with UNC letting off of the gas in the second half. I harped on the defense a bit before, but not having consistent attacking can also contribute to too much pressure on the defense. Louisville lost a lot in the attack over the summer and Coach Justine Sowry will need to find some answers fast or the high hopes that Louisville had of building on last season may be slipping away already.
Field hockey takes on California in their next match on Sunday at 2PM. That is a home game but is also available on ACC Network Extra. Cal is 2-1 on the season with a 5-0 loss to #4 Maryland and will take on UNC today at 1PM. Cal's wins were a 5-1 win over Providence to start the season and a narrow 1-0 victory over Miami (OH) this past Sunday. The Cards will hope to get back on track with a win tomorrow.
JUSTINE SOWRY POSTGAME
UNC COACH KAREN SHELTON POSTGAME
JUSTINE SOWRY POSTGAME
UNC COACH KAREN SHELTON POSTGAME
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
After taking the day off last week, I'm back in the studio today for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. We'll have plenty to talk about this week with nearly every fall sport in action, so be sure to tune in to WCHQ FM at 11AM. The show is available on local radio at 100.9 and online via the website (wchqfm.com), the app (WCHQ FM), or on Facebook Live. Join us as we bring you the joy and excitement of Louisville women's sports as only the Cardinal Couple Crew can.
Until next time, Go Cards!
Field hockey pictures in today's article provided by Jared Anderson. As always, check out more of his work at jdaphotos.com.