Cards Beat Hurricanes 3-1
With an unexpected late scratch of their offensive leader, Melanie McHenry, due to illness, the Cardinals found themselves in uncharted territory last night against the Miami Hurricanes. Louisville struggled mightily to find their hitting rhythm in a losing first set effort as they hit only .048 in a 21-25 set. From there, the Cards put on a reverse sweep led by Claire Chaussee and Amanda Green, despite a 25-14 error deficit in the final three sets. Not only did the Cards win three straight sets after the first, but the only times they trailed over the last three sets were at 1-0 and 2-1 in the third set. Miami kept the fourth and final set close, tying it at 22, but unlike against Syracuse last weekend, Louisville was able to close out the final few points in the fourth to avoid a fifth set.
Two big ways that the Cards got around low hitting percentages were winning a frenzied blocking battle and dominating the serving game. Miami finished the match with 12 blocks, but the Cards tacked on one more to win the battle with 13. It doesn't seem like a big difference, but a point is a point and when it gets the ball back into your hands, good things can happen for your team, especially given the service battle. Louisville finished with 9 service errors, yes, but they also put down 8 service aces. A -1 in the serving game isn't great, but when compared to the -7 (1 ace, 8 errors) that Miami put up, Louisville came out smelling like a rose. The blocking Cards were led by Green, who had 4 solo blocks, and Emily Scott and Megan Sloan, who had 5 and 4 block assists, respectively. Serving was led by Molly Sauer, who had three aces and no errors. Akela Yuhl and Mia Stander each had two aces, but Yuhl chipped in 3 errors of her own. Still, not bad for the sophomore making her first start.
As mentioned previously, the offense was led by Chaussee and Green. Each had 16 kills and Chaussee finished with a nearly .400 hitting percentage to go along with it. High volume, high efficiency hitting wins matches. Green's hitting percentage was a bit lower, but she added on the 4 solo blocks and 10 digs to cement herself as player of the game. Green has been having a semi-quietly fantastic season that is somewhat overshadowed by what McHenry does game in and game out. Credit to Amanda for seeing her opportunity to show out and seizing it at the perfect time. The Cards needed someone to fill in for the absence of a huge all-around piece, and they got it from multiple players last night.
Defense saw Molly Sauer, Green, Yuhl, and Stander combine for 70 of the 79 receiving attempts with only one receiving error. Sauer, Yuhl, and Stander also added 30 digs to keep Louisville's offense with opportunities to score. Wilma Rivera did former setter of the year things with 46 assists on 54 kills, 2 block assists, and an ace.
For a team that has, perhaps, struggled with some confidence issues this season, losing a star late could have been enough to throw off the entire team. Keep in mind that Miami is not a bad squad, as they sat at 13-6 (9-3) before last night's match. It should be a huge boost to the Cards to know that, while Melanie McHenry is a fantastic player, the entire match doesn't have to play through her. Coming to this understanding could help McHenry, as well, as increased confidence throughout the offense can reduce the pressure on her and open up the front line even more by teams not being able to key in their blocks as much. That said, Louisville will hope for a speedy recovery for McHenry as the Florida State Seminoles come to town tomorrow for a 1PM matchup in Cardinal Arena. The Noles sit at 15-8 and have struggled a bit on the road, but they are coming off of a road win over Notre Dame so their confidence will be high. Tune in to ACC Network Extra or head down to Floyd Street to catch the matchup, the second to last of the regular season in Cardinal Arena.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
After a long absence, I'll finally be making my return to the studio this morning alongside Paulie plus Paige Sherrard and Datyl Foust. Jared and Jeff sit out today with other obligations, but we'll do our best to hold down the volleyball discussions without our experts. Paulie has plenty to talk about from his adventures at the Yum! Center and basketball season is right around the corner. Tune into WCHQ FM at 11AM to hear all the joy and excitement of Louisville women's sports. The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour is available at 100.9 FM, wchqfm.com, the WCHQ app, or on Facebook live. Links are at the right side of the site!
November is Donation Month
If you're already getting tired of seeing the donation month discussion, well... I don't know what to tell you. Strap in, because there's quite a bit of month left. Cardinal Couple is brought to you by a group that does this for no financial gain. We cover the women's athletics at UofL because they deserve the coverage. However, this coverage isn't free. There are administrative fees to consider, as well as costs to ensure we can cover games that aren't just at UofL's home sites. If you are a frequenter of the site, or if you're new and enjoy what we do here, please consider donating to keep this operation up and running. It is a personal joy to be able to work with this team and I know what it takes behind the scenes. If you are able, any and all donations would be greatly appreciated!
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Until next time, Go Cards!
Pictures in today's article provided by Jared Anderson. Check out his site for more from last night and beyond.