Volleyball Uses Comebacks to Sweep Dayton
Yesterday evening's match against Dayton could have easily gone the other way. In both of the first two games, the Cards found themselves in a hole late. In both of those games, Louisville was able to recover and regain the lead, holding on for the win. In the third, Louisville took an early lead and then held off multiple charges from the Flyers to complete the sweep and advance to the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012.
A look at the stats show that Louisville may have escaped with this match. The Cards trailed in aces and blocks and had more overall errors than the Flyers. However, Louisville was able to garner more kills to outweigh their errors, and actually finished with a higher hitting percentage than Dayton in each game. Louisville was led in kills by, you guessed it, Melanie McHenry. However, McHenry was joined at the top by Amanda Green. The two finished with 15 apiece, which was tops in the match for both teams. In fact, Green and McHenry's 30 total kills were only three fewer than the entire Dayton team. The two contributed 12 errors, but finished hitting .206 (McHenry) and .355 (Green). Louisville finished at .232 as a team, and Dayton was all the way down at .155.
Dayton's game plan was clearly to try to get Louisville out of rotation, and they had some measure of success. The Flyers forced McHenry into 7 digs and 12 receives (1 receiving error), Green into 8 and 19 (1 RE), and Wilma Rivera into 10 digs. Molly Sauer was held to only 16 digs and contributed a receiving error on her 23 attempts. To their credit, Rivera was able to recover and pick up 40 of the team's 49 assists on 50 total kills, with Sauer contributing 6 assists to the cause. The Cards finished with only three aces compared to seven service errors, which is a statistic that has bitten Louisville significantly this season. They were able to weather it in this match, but they can be sure that their tournament run will end early if they are unable to prevent giving away points with absolutely no work required by the opponent.
The Cards finished by winning the match 25-21, 25-23, 25-21. I could give you a play by play, but the stats really do tell the story. Dayton was not scoring on the Cards. Rather, Louisville gave away points left and right which could have cost them the match. Fortunately, they were able to focus up at key moments and bring it all back together to get the victory. Advancing in the tournament is huge, and obviously you will take a win any way you can get it, but you can be sure that Coach Dani Busboom Kelly will have been poring over film last night to figure out how to prepare the team during their walkthrough and practice this morning.
A tough match awaits, as the Cards will take on the hosting Illini, but this team has shown resilience and the ability to hang tough with strong teams. We'll see if the Louisville team that is capable of winning big matches shows up today, or if the moment will get the better of them. Louisville faces Illinois at 8PM Eastern, and the match should be available on the BTN2GO option.
Emina Ekic Named Second Team All-American
Just days after she and two of her teammates earned regional honors, Emina Ekic was taken a step further and named as an All-American. Ekic was named to the second team, which is quite the honor for a player whose team bowed out in the first round of both the conference and national tournaments. Ekic was 3rd among midfielders in total goals and tied for 12th among midfielders in total assists. (These stats are according to TopDrawer, which actually had Ekic's numbers wrong. They may have had other players' numbers wrong as well, but the NCAA, which had the correct stats, didn't show positions. Either way, Emina was really good this year among her peers.) Ekic played in fewer games than most of these players, and ranked in the top 200 of all players across the country in points per game. The sophomore was third on the team in points behind the two high scoring strikers. She ranked 8th on the team in minutes, trailing only the keeper, defenders, and defensive midfielders. It is the second straight year for Emina earning high postseason honors, and Louisville has two more years to hopefully turn her individual success into additional team success.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
Jeff is up in Champaign to watch the Cards advance toward that black banner and Jared is training the computer to take over his job, so Paulie and I will be joined in the studio by Paige Sherrard and Daryl Foust. We'll have plenty to talk about with the women's basketball team in full swing, and we'll use the wonders of technology to get a segment with Jeff over the phone. Tune in to WCHQ FM at 11 AM to join us on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour. WCHQ is available at 100.9 FM, wchqfm.com, the WCHQ App, and on Facebook Live.
Until next time, Go Cards!