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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Volleyball Showdown Day -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Clash of the ACC Volleyball Titans

OK, maybe the heading is a little overblown, but today is finally game day for the volleyball match that the whole conference has been waiting for.  The story lines have developed as expected, with the offensive juggernaut, and the scrappy, balanced squad meeting up to see if specialization can win out over generalism.

Pitt plays a high power offense, much like last year, that about sums up the team.  They swing hard, and they usually find the floor with their hits.  UofL has put together a bit of a rag-tag bunch of players that are, but perhaps not spectacular, at all aspects of the game, defense and digging, serving, blocking, hitting (both middle and outside).  It's an all-around game played by UofL, vs a very offensive focused Pitt team.

Pitt is sitting just outside of the top 5 nationally, at number 6, while the scrappy Cardinals are creeping up the lower parts of the poll, currently sitting at 21st.  Pitt is undefeated, overall, not just in conference, and have yet to play a 5th set in a match this season.  The Cards are undefeated in conference, but have dropped 4 matches in non-conference against some very good teams, and have played in 5 5th sets this season.

The Cards have a lot to play for.

This game likely decides the conference championship, and by way of that, the awarding of the automatic qualifier to the NCAA tournament (remember that the ACC does not host a conference volleyball tournament, the AQ goes to the regular season champion).  Here's a bit more about how that breaks down.  Assuming that both teams win out the rest of the conference schedule (not much of a stretch of a possibility), the winner of this match ends up undefeated, and the loser ends up 1 loss.  That scenario is easy.

It is a little more nuanced than that, however, as the winner of this match would then potentially have the luxury of losing another match.  If the loser of this match wins out the rest of the way, then the two would end up being co-champions, again.  Florida State does play a potential spoiler (at 8-1 in conference) and confuser of this scenario with matches still to go against both Louisville and Pitt.  In the co-champion scenario, the winner of this match would get the AQ (again, caveat confusion that could potentially be caused by FSU) win the head to head victory over the other.

With another co-championship, Dani Busboom Kelly's squad gets to hang another red banner in Cardinal Arena.  Coach, and the team, even their intro video, have built the season theme around the color black, though.  The volleyball banners in Cardinal Arena are colored coded.  Red banners are for conference successes (usually championships, both regular season and tournaments from previous conferences).  The black banners, though...the black banners are for NCAA tournament successes, at least a Sweet 16 berth (the NCAA volleyball tournament is 64 teams).  This team wants to hang a black banner this year, and it's not much of a stretch to say it's a possibility.

Another motivator for NCAA tournament prospects is hosting the first two rounds of play.  The top 16 teams get to host first and second round games.  UofL currently sits in 21st in the national coach's poll.  A win over #6 Pitt would go a long way towards lifting them into that Top 15 region where hosting teams hang out.  A little help from some Top 15 teams (ie, if they lose some games) also helps that along.  A hosting slot is still a possibility with a lose to Pitt, but the odds get pretty long in that case.

In a more abstract terms, the Cards need to win this one to really take the next step in competitive play.  If they play like they did Friday against UVA, it won't happen (well, except for that 5th set, but Pitt won't roll over like UVA did, this is a certainty).

This game is hyped, it is hyped here in Pittsburgh, and it promises to be a loud and live arena.  I will be in attendance at 1pm, but for those who aren't here, it will be streamed on the ACC Network Extra.

A Quick Note on Men's Soccer

In what seems to be a developing theme, another UofL team won a game in double-sudden-victory-overtime last night.  This time it was the Men's Soccer team's turn.  The foe was Clemson, and the venue was Lynn Stadium on Floyd Street.  There's one more game in the regular season for Men's Soccer, but it's a doozy, with #1 ranked Wake Forest waiting on their home pitch for this one on Friday evening.

Sunday Schedule

There's a lot of Cardinals teams in competition today.  In addition to Volleyball at 1pm, Field Hockey and Women's Soccer both get their games underway, also on the road, at 1pm.  Field Hockey is at Albany, and apparently no video stream is available for this one, but Women's Soccer can be picked up on the ACC Network Extra in their tilt against NC State in Raleigh.

WSOC needs this win. Last road game of the regular season and second-to-last game of the regular season. ACC Tournament qualification status and points on the line. 

Rowing is in action this afternoon on the Charles River in Cambridge, MA at the prestigious Head of the Charles competition.  There is streaming available for this on a Vimeo livestream from The Rowing Channel at

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

We had two knuckleheads in the studio, Paulie and myself, yesterday for the Cardinal Couple Radio
Hour.  We also were graced with the presence of Daryl Foust, who can in no way be said to be a knucklehead.

Much merriment was had, maybe slightly less informative than usual, but we had fun, and we did get to discuss topics of importance to UofL Women's Sports.  We covered Volleyball, Field Hockey, Soccer, and touched on Men's Basketball.  If you're in the Boston area to watch the Head of the Charles, tune in to learn about an idiosyncratic unit of measurement used on the Harvard Bridge over the Charles River.  You can also read some about it at

I particularly love this statement from that Wikipedia article, "Officials' original determination to omit the smoot markings from the reconstructed bridge, and to scrupulously prevent the fraternity from repainting them, evaporated when it was realized that police routinely used the smoot marks as reference points in accident reports."

Paulie plans on  presenting the UofL WBB team in terms of smoots status this year. He, Daryl and anyone else they can convince will be using the comparison.

"Get her the ball! She's three smoots open!  Not quite smoot height. She nailed that three from about 5 smoots out!"   

You can hear and watch the CCRH replay at:



  1. I hate colds and think it is very unfair I have one. I'm like that girl at Syracuse, i'd love a referral to see if I deserve one or not but I am out of referrals.

    But, plan on staying in bed. Soup, hot toddys and watching ACC Network Extra today. Go Cards! Make me feel better!

    Curtis "sniffle, hack, blow and cough" Franklin

  2. Unfortunately (for me) it was not streams there seemed to technical problems somewhere along the way. I could get ESPN to load at all.


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