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Saturday, September 7, 2019

Volleyball Double-header Saturday

Volleyball Plays Two

Dani Busboom Kelly's volleyball squad had a double-header yesterday with an early afternoon match against Tennessee Tech, and an evening match against in-state Western Kentucky.

Tennessee Tech

The wide-netters came away with two wins, with one of them being a 3-0 sweep of Tennessee Tech, 25-14, 25-17, 25-15.  None of the sets was particularly close, and Tennessee Tech was clearly an overmatched team against the Cards.

Claire Chaussee getting ready to bring the power.
Give the Golden Eagles credit, they were a scrappy team, equaling UofL's 41 digs in the match, but were clearly outmatched at the net, only chalking up 6 blocks compared to 10 by the Cards.  Beyond those 10, the UofL blockers were up and at the net, forcing alternate shots like tips and rolls, rather than hard hit balls.  The Golden Eagles hit a cumulative -.051, with the only positive hitting percentage in a set in the first set at .136, still not great.  The 2nd set saw that stat plummet to -.200.

To be fair, the Cardinal hitting percentage wasn't exactly stellar, either, a whopping .196 for the match with the high being .290 in the 2nd set, dropping to .056 in the 3rd and final set.

For particular bright spots, look to true freshman Amaya Tillman who, while originally being listed as a middle hitter and blocker has been playing on the right side.  While this is a relatively easy transition to make, the timing of swings is a bit different and she has been struggling some with this.  She did connect with both setters in the Golden Eagle match, with a percentage of .364, with 7 kills on 11 attempts.

Aiko Jones doing it Jamaica style
Piper Roe and Emily Scott got the start in the middle merry go round and hit .250 and .214 respectively.  Respectable numbers in the middle.  Scott was definitely the more unfettered middle with 5 kills on 14 attempts with 2 miscues, while Roe only swung on 8 attempts, getting 2 of them to the floor.  Aiko Jones also chalked up a .250 percentage on 7 kills out of 16 attempts, a nice set of stats for a right side hitter.

The 6-2 offense remains in effect with Shannon Shields technically getting the start, and pretty evenly splitting the assists with Tori Dilfer, with 12 and 11 respectively.  The core of the defense was provided by Melanie McHenry, Alexis Hamilton, and Shannon Shields, with 9, 10, and 7 digs.

The crowd was sparse for a mid-day match, with your correspondent "taking a long lunch" to attend and then returning to paying endeavors after the match in the SAC lobby.

Western Kentucky

The more interesting match for UofL was in the evening with Western Kentucky as the opponent.  The Cards would win this as well, as they have every match they've played against the Hilltoppers in the history of the matchup, but WKU did show they are a team to be reckoned with.  The Cards get the win in 4 sets, 25-18, 22-25, 25-22, 25-15.

The first stat that stood out to me in this match was the blocking, with WKU outblocking the Cards 12-9.  Let's be clear, this year's UofL squad is one of the best blocking teams we've had in a number of years, WKU is overall a shorter team, and they had a stronger blocking presence at the net than UofL did.  The joint blocks were even at 12, but WKU put up 6 solo blocks in the 4 set match vs UofL's 3, a very impressive number, to be sure.  Again, though, credit UofL's blocking for altering the opponent's attack to cause hitting errors, although here again, the Cards came out worse on the stat sheet with 27 hitting errors, to WKU's 24.

Amaya Tillman celebrating her successes
The difference in this match isn't much reflected in the stat sheet.  WKU's 48 digs, compared to UofL's 57 isn't that much of a disparity, but the difference here was that UofL's defense and transition to offense felt more "in system" than WKU's.  The Hilltoppers scrambled a lot to return shots, and to be sure they scrambled well, but that's not a recipe for winning points, merely keeping the ball alive to continue to play.

For individual contributors we look to Melanie McHenry, with a very good .367 coming out of the left side, again ultimately a tribute to the defense to offense transition being in system.  On the other end of the net, Aiko Jones swung for a very impressive .370.  Emily Scott out of the middle brought a .286 and Amaya Tillman continued to swing well on the right side for .250.  Assists again were relatively evenly split in the 6-2 with Shannon Shields tallying 25, and Tori Dilfer picking up 20.

The usual suspects chimed in on defense, Alexis Hamilton digging 16, Shannon Shields picked up 13, and McHenry with 10.  I do want to shout out Emily Scott for digging stats, with 4, which is an inordinately high number for a middle.

This was a fun and exciting match to watch, with a good crowd of just over 1,000 on hand for it.  Remember that, before the renovation 3 years ago, that arena could only officially seat 840.  I continue to be impressed with WKU, as every time I see them play, they're always just a little bit better than the last I saw them.  Credit to Head Coach Travis Hudson along with his assistants Kristi Griffin and Craig Bere.  One history note, Bere was an assistant to Leonid Yelin in 2007 and 2008, and as such is certainly familiar with L&N Arena.

Melanie McHenry doing Melanie McHenry things
The Cards will be back in action today at 3:30 (ish, depending on the previous match between Tennessee Tech and WKU finishing on time) against Arizona State.  You can count on former Card Maya McClendon being in attendance (as she was yesterday) because, after playing 2 years at UofL, she transferred to ASU to finish her career.  Speaking with her briefly yesterday, she asserted that she,  despite graduating from ASU, and being born and raised in Louisville and a lifelong Cardinals fan, "will wear neutral colors."  Fair enough.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Then there's this bozo.
It's studio day for the Cardinal Couple Crew, represented today by yours truly, along with Paulie, Case, and Daryl, returning to the WCHQ studio for the first time in some time.  We'll have plenty to talk about with a great start to the soccer season, volleyball and field hockey.  Check it out on WCHQFM at their website or on Facebook Live at, through the WCHQ app, or even on 100.9FM if you're in the vicinity.


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