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Sunday, August 4, 2019

Louisville Volleyball: Breakout Players and The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour -- Sunday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball Breakouts?

It's a lazy Sunday morning, and the first event on the Cards Athletic calendar is still almost two weeks away.  Jared pronounced his expected breakout players on Wednesday, but do remember, this is the guy that predicted two goals per game average for Minout Mink in Field Hockey a couple of years ago.

Case also did some digging into Soccer a bit more deeply recently, so let's take a look at how the Volleyball roster is shaping up.

First off, Jared predicted Piper Roe as his breakout player for Volleyball, and that's not a bad choice, but looking at the roster at, we've got four middles listed, two of which, Emily Scott along with Roe, saw action as Cardinals last year.  Anna Stevenson is joining as a 6'1" transfer from Auburn as a Junior.  She put up 1.15 blocks/set in 2018 down in Alabama.

Also, we have Amaya Tillman joining as a freshman, and the little bit of video I've seen of her play is quite impressive.  So the field is crowded in the middle.  Of course, a typical Volleyball lineup will include two middles, so there is definitely opportunity for Roe to make her mark known.  My selection will probably be Tillman, however.

For pin hitting, we only have a single opposite hitter listed, although it's not that much of a challenge for left sides to shift over to the right side and swing.  Aiko Jones has an opportunity as that specialist opposite, however.  Jones took a red-shirt last year, to give her some time to develop her game, she has amazing athleticism, but the question of the pre-season is how much refinement can she bring to her play.  She's been working hard, and has a great attitude.

For pin hitting overall, however, I have to look to Claire Chaussee.  We know she has power, both at the pin and from back the serving line, however there is a real need to bring some control to it.  If she can tighten it up just a little bit, perhaps sacrificing just a little bit of that power to do it, this could be a major breakout year for her.  If she does, look for us to be talking about Chaussee as the next Melanie McHenry.

And, of course, McHenry will have a great year, but her breakout was really the first weekend of play her freshman year at Bowling Green State when she won the MVP of the weekend, so she'll just be continuing to build on her excellence here in her finale season.  Nena Mbonu is coming in as a freshman, and is just a really big question mark right now.  There's athleticism there, but what comes to fruition from it?  How ready is she for D1 level of play?  We'll get a glimpse on the 17th.

I've been saying for months that the setting position is Tori Dilfer's position to lose.  A transfer from TCU who will be in her sophomore season with us, played on the US Collegiate National Team that went to the WUGs and she definitely has skills.  Early reports, however, point to this being more competitive than I was expecting, with Shannon Shields, an incoming freshman, receiving lots of kudos.  Either could potentially have what we could consider breakout seasons.

Lastly, in defense, I have no reason to believe anyone other than Alexis Hamilton will don the libero jersey, but for breakout performance, I think I would point to Mia Stander.  She got pressed into action last year, a bit sooner than she was really expecting, I believe, thanks to various injuries and performed well as a true freshman.

Molly Sauer graduated, Kelly O'Neal is not listed on the roster at all this year after dealing with back problems and missing nearly the whole season last year.  With more D1 level preparation, this could be a great year for Stander.  The competition here, is Akela Yuhl, who has also contributed well at times, and an incoming freshman Alexa Hendricks.  Again, as an incoming freshman, Hendricks will be a bit of a question mark, but comes from a good background, matriculating to UofL from the KIVA/Assumption High School pipeline that has sent so many excellent Defensive players on to play for so many schools over the years.

OK, I hear you all saying that I'm dodging by looking at positions and you want a single breakout performance prediction for the year.  I'm still going to caveat this a bit, but, here we go.

Claire Chaussee will get the most attention for breakout play, but my personal expectation of
breakout performance credit will go to Mia Stander.  Chaussee will get more attention overall because she's an offensive player, and offense always gets more attention that defense, pretty much in any sport, but I believe the short-stuff (5'3") defender from Atlanta will have the biggest improvement in play and contributions to making this team a better team.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Was it a breakout performance for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour?  Eh, well, we had fun, even with just Paulie and I in the studio.  I ended up scoring a respectable 80 on the quiz after a hot first half, and a disappointing second half.  We will be working on our concentration exercises as we start gearing up for the beginning of the fall season.

We discussed the new KFC YUM! CENTER logo, Louisville women's soccer, Volleyball and much more before the quiz and after. 

You can check out yesterday's edition on Facebook Live at:


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