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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Field Hockey Bounces Back; Volleyball Continues Winning -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Early Goal Holds for 1-0 FH Win over Duke

Louisville's field hockey team headed down to Durham, North Carolina on Thursday afternoon to prep for their Friday game, and, unlike the football team, their bus didn't get stuck in a ditch en route. The Cards' trip to take on Pam Bustin's team is always a nail-biter due to the familiarity between the teams, and this matchup was no different. 

Duke, while ranked 18th, is having a bit of a down year. The loss yesterday dropped them to 3-5 and they've opened the season 0-2 in conference play. Whether they remain ranked next week will be an interesting question, but the less than stellar start to the season didn't knock them out of yesterday's game.

Louisville dominated this one offensively, but Piper Hampsch was excellent between the pipes for the Blue Devils. The Cards got to Hampsch early, as they converted their first penalty corner in just the fourth minute of the match, but that would (obviously) be their only goal. This goal started like many others off of corners so far this season, with Alli Bitting playing the ball in to Charlie van Oirschot. Unlike some plays, this one was not a shot for van Oirschot. She stopped it cleanly and got out of the way for Julie Kouijzer to step up and slam the shot into the left side of the cage. It was Kouijzer's third goal of the year and would prove to be her first game-winning goal this season. 

Both teams would get a penalty corner and a shot from open play after the goal, but the goalkeepers would stand strong. Hampsch grabbed a pair of saves, while Mila de Kuijer was called to action only on the corner as Duke's other shot went wide. The second quarter saw Duke find a pair of shots, but both were off the frame. Louisville's offense stalled in the second, the only quarter where the Cards had no shots.

After halftime, Louisville came out fully intending to extend their lead. The Cards continued pushing, earning another pair of penalty corners. Both shots were blocked or saved, though, keeping the advantage at just one goal. Duke would earn a penalty corner of their own, but they were unable to get a shot out of it.

The fourth quarter was almost all Louisville. Duke grabbed the first shot of the quarter, but their only effort to tie didn't even make it to de Kuijer as it was blocked by a defender. The Cards, on the other hand, grabbed three more corners in the period. All three were saved by Hampsch. The final whistle came mercifully for Louisville before all of their hard work could be undone by a single unlucky goal by Duke. 

While Louisville only scored one goal, this was a much more impressive offensive showing than some of the Cards' recent matches. Usually it is extremely disappointing to have such a low corner conversion rate (1 of 7), but, in this case, it seems forgivable given the great effort by Piper Hampsch. Hampsch finished with seven saves, while Louisville put eight of their nine shots on frame. Kouijzer had four of those nine shots, with three on frame. As she has been typically, Mila de Kuijer was strong in goal, though she was hardly tested, with just the one Duke shot on goal

We're still monitoring Sam Minrath's potential return, but it will be an interesting problem for Coach Justine Sowry if and when she's available. 

The Cards are back in action, still on the road, on Monday. They'll travel to Columbus to take on Ohio State. The game against the Buckeye's will get underway at 4PM, and we'll have updates on how to view it in the Monday column.

Volleyball Opens ACC Slate with Sweep

Louisville returned home after their giant-killing trip in Lincoln to start their conference season, and did so on "80s Night." Jeff was quick to let us know that he was enjoying the playlist in the arena until they broke character to play "Joker and the Thief", a song released in 2005. The Cards brought in Miami, who was 9-1 coming in, but who had not truly been tested. The Hurricanes had played only USF, UCF, and Alabama as teams that would be considered strong opponents, and they dropped the match against UCF. 

It wasn't Louisville's best offensive night as they finished with just a 0.274 team hitting percentage, but that was more than enough as they held Miami to an even 0.000 on the match. The Cards' defense drove Miami to negative percentages in the first and third sets, and unsurprisingly, got their two biggest wins in those sets on their way to a 25-10, 25-21, 25-14 sweep. Though the second set was the closest, Louisville was never really in danger, using a 4-0 to take an 11-9 lead that they would not relinquish. 

Outside of the hitting, Louisville did a lot of things really well in this one. They had just five service aces in this one but they were even on the ace/error ratio for the first time in quite awhile. Elena Scott led the way with three aces of her own. Miami also had five service errors but just two aces. The Hurricanes had 27 hitting errors in this one, though a whopping 12 of those came from Louisville blocks, making this Louisville's third match this season with a 4.0 block/set mark. The Cards were blocking machines as a team in this one, as just three of their twelve blocks were of the solo variety with Anna Stevenson, Tori Dilfer, and Amaya Tillman each grabbing one. Stevenson contributed six block assists, the most on the team by three. Defensively, Scott finished with 17 digs while Anna DeBeer played well from the back row with 11 digs of her own.

Offensively, DeBeer contributed from both the front and back row as she finished with a team-high eight kills, tied with Aiko Jones. Nena Mbonu was hot on their heels with seven, though the match-high number went to Miami's Nyah Anderson who finished with nine. Tillman led Louisville in hitting percentage with a 0.556 mark, but she and Stevenson were both errorless on their way to five and six kills, respectively. 

Louisville will take on another Florida team next when they host Florida State tomorrow at 1  PM. The Seminoles are 8-2 this season and opened their ACC slate with a win over Notre Dame. Their losses came to Michigan and UCF. If the Cards can take care of business against FSU, they could be in a position to move up to third after both Ohio State and Wisconsin dropped their matches last night. Pittsburgh stands to move up to second if they can beat NC State. There is quite awhile before the Cards and Panthers are set to play, though, as their first match is October 24th. If both teams remain undefeated until then, the L&N Federal Credit Union Arena will be rocking for a top-3 matchup.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

I'm back this week, but we're without Daryl as she gets her metal on at Louder Than Life. Despite the field hockey loss to Iowa earlier, it has been a really exciting week for plenty of Louisville teams. We'll cover all of this week's action and look ahead to some big matchups on the horizon. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!

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