Cardinal Couple would like to acknowledge the passing, yesterday, of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. RBG was an inspiration and role model to many women and girls in being able to achieve and accomplish things beyond what might otherwise be expected. Being a site about and supporting women and girls in athletics, we honor Ginsburg and cherish her representation and role in establishing women's participation in all places in our society.
The UofL Volleyball team held there traditional Red and Black Scrimmage yesterday. As with most things in 2020, this one was a bit different from normal, but there was plenty of the traditional that was able to continue.
The biggest difference was in the crowd. There really wasn't much of one as it was opened only to family and a very small number of others. The result was that there was maybe 40 or 50 people in the seats, all appropriately spaced, and wearing masks.
The play on the court was pretty normal, with the only visible change being that the players were wearing masks while playing.
The teams were divided roughly into what I would expect to be starters vs reserves. Consequently, the starters, which were designated the white team (based on the jerseys they were wearing) won all four sets played.
The reserves, wearing red jerseys, general stayed close to the starters including holding some leads during some of the play. It can be very difficult to get a sense of the level of play of a team when they're effectively playing against themselves. With no outside measure to judge against, are our reserves just that good? Or are there weaknesses in those who were on the starters side of the net? I tend to believe that it's the former.
Subjectively, there was a subtle but definite difference in the quality of play. To pick an example, Tori Dilfer, setting for the starters had some spectacular sets and reached a number of passes that I wouldn't have expected her to. On the other side, Rachel DeMarcus and Jamie Vasilou split time in the setter position, and to be clear, both played very well, but we didn't see the sort of jaw-dropper sets that we saw a couple of examples of from Dilfer.
On a side note, if you've never seen, or paid attention to, Jamie Vasilou in warm ups, or the limited time she gets on the court, you should just to acknowledge her amazing leaping ability. I joked in the Cardinal Couple group text that we should make her a hitter. She's only 5'5" but gets up above the net and gets swings on the ball as well as just about as well as any 6-footer outside hitter.
The team looked great and mostly in sync on the starter's side of the net. That really shouldn't be surprising since the team is largely the same as it was for the 2nd half of last season. Amber Stivrins is in Georgia these days, but she was effectively replaced by incoming freshman Anna DeBeer.
The starting lineup will continue to be heavy on "A" names, with two Anna's - DeBeer and Stevenson, Aiko Jones, Amaya Tillman, and Alexis Hamilton among the likely starters. Add in setter Tori Dilfer and Claire Chaussee and you have your likely starting lineup. Expect Mia Stander to come immediately off the bench for DS and serving duties.
On the reserves side of the net things were a bit more disjointed, as would be expected with the other four freshman, a new transfer in, and a new Volunteer Assistant Coach (Taylor Morgan, who was on the Minnesota team that eliminated the Cards in the Elite 8 of the 2019 tournament) joining in the play.
Speaking of the four freshmen, and no that's not the pop barbershop quartet, they all demonstrated that they have the skills and talent to play at this level of play. There is definitely room for development in their play and understanding of the college level game, but this is a very good recruiting class that will definitely keep UofL Volleyball in ACC championship contention into the mid-2020s.
No word yet, with less than a week until the first scheduled match, on whether, or how many, fans will be able to be in attendance. The Arena was set up, with signage and "green dots" on seats, to give guidance on social distancing. There was a temperature check at the door (questionably effective though that may be, it is another check that might help prevent the spread of Covid-19), masks were required, and the one instance I saw of anyone pushing the limit on social distancing was pleasantly addressed by the ushers. All in all, it appears that UofL has done a good job of making some attendance at volleyball possible and safe in the current Covid-19 environment.
With NCAA efforts underway to try to establish a season in the spring for volleyball to play a more complete schedule along with an NCAA tournament, hopes are high that we'll be able to see more volleyball than just the 8 matches scheduled over the next month or so.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour
Another week with our normal jokes on the CCRH. Case, Jared, Paulie, and myself are all planning on joining in for another week of the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports. Soccer and Volleyball are sure to be up for discussion. Check it out on Youtube Live at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3Lb0KWORvn2eARnCZfjxww