Sweet Sixteen Bound
The VolleyCards are Sweet 16 bound. The Cards defeated Purdue in straight sets (25-19, 25-21, 25-23) to advance from the sub-regionals of the NCAA Volleyball tournament into the regional rounds, or rounds three and four.
By virtue of being the number one seed in the region, UofL will continue to host, but NCAA requires that 3rd and 4th rounds are held in facilities that can seat at least 3,000 people. Last year, that necessitated last minute negotiations and shuffling of several events between UofL and Bellarmine to accommodate play at Freedom Hall. This year, UofL was able to secure access to the KFC Yum! Center for the event, simplifying preparations considerably.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though, and take a look at last night's match.
It was a straight set sweep affair, and UofL came out of the locker room clearly ready to get the job done. The Boilermakers, however, were not to be easily swept aside. A couple of early Amaya Tillman kills and a Purdue attack error got Louisville out to an early 7-3 lead. Purdue would consistently punch back, but never with the same ferocity. A pair of Purdue points, were met by a trio of Cards points, a Purdue point, met by a pair of UofL points and the lead was 12-6.
Nine errors by Purdue in the first set would really seal the deal, though. Contributing to .114 hitting in set one for the engineers. To be fair, the Cards hit an acceptable, but not stellar .286 in set one.
The second set closed the gap ever so slightly, the lead was 12-7 rather than 12-6, for example, but it similarly wouldn't be enough. Phekran "PK" Kong made her presence known in this set after closing out the first. Again, the teams traded punches, with the Cards punching just that little bit harder to slowly but surely open up the lead. Anna DeBeer continued her return to form with a side out kill to make the score 20-17 which was greeted with great enthusiasm from the heavily red-tinted crowd.
I'm not sure what happened at the set break, but whatever it was, maybe try something different. The Cards came out looking distracted and just a step slow. Purdue crafted their first lead of the match with a set-opening run of four points. The Cards wouldn't tie the set until 6-6, and wouldn't take a lead until 9-8. Mostly credit the middle hitters for triggering the run with several kills by Amaya Tillman and PK Kong being key. Purdue would continue to get small leads, at 10-9, 16-13, and even as late as 22-21. Kills by Claire Chaussee and Anna DeBeer would push the Cards lead to 23-22 before Purdue would claw one back to tie it at 23. Attacking errors would do the Boilermakers in, though with a pair of them resulting in the set, and match, win for the Cards. There was a bit of crowd displeasure when Dave Shondell issued a challenge on the last play of the match, but the original call was upheld and the Cards got to celebrate twice.
Claire Chaussee led the Cards with 12 kills for a .205 percentage. She only had three errors but credit to Purdue's defense digging well on so many of Chaussee's 44 attempts. She seasoned her stat line with a trio of digs, a pair of assists a solo block and a trio of shares. Amaya Tillman followed closely behind with 11 kills and a whopping .600 rate. A pair of blocks is pretty much just another day at the office for Tillman, but the trio of digs, including a big diving one is an impressive add-on for a middle. DeBeer finished with four kills and 11 digs as she continues to improve her mobility game by game. Elena Scott was passing dimes all evening with 22 digs and picks up a couple of assists in the process.
Overall the Cards only hit .246 on the evening, a bit lower than usual. Again, credit to Purdue's defense for that. The Cards led 4-0 in aces, and 10-3 in blocks, which pretty much make up the difference in scores across the match.
So the Cards win and advance. The next match will be against Baylor at the KFC Yum! Center on Thursday December 8th. Times will be set today, but we're expecting earlier in the day as the other three hosting teams are Wisconsin, Texas, and Stanford, meaning we're the only eastern time zone host. The other teams coming to Louisville are Nebraska, and Oregon. This is a completely chalk regional with Baylor being the four seed, Nebraska the two, and Oregon the three. In fact, the only non-chalk team in the Sweet 16 is Houston, the five seed in the Stanford region. UH advanced over South Dakota in the first round, and then over Auburn in the second. Auburn was responsible for dispatching the four seed in the region, Creighton, in the first round.
The only teams that beat Louisville this season are both still alive in the tournament, with Ohio State the three seed in the Texas region, and set to play Minnesota; and Pitt set to play Florida. Kentucky is also still alive as the three seed in the Stanford region, and they will be playing San Diego who gave Louisville a good showing early in the season.
(VOLLEYBALL PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)
Jeff Walz' squad is in Tennessee, set to play Middle Tennessee at 5pm eastern. The hoopsters will be looking to bounce back after a terrible fourth quarter against Ohio State when an upset win was a real possibility until the wheels fell off.
The Raiders are 4-2 on the season. They opened with a one point loss to Mercer before obliterating the Southern Illinois Salukis 90-38. They continued that momentum into a solid win over a common opponent, the Belmont Bruins, 80-62. Their other loss came to Texas Tech in Las Vegas, and they are now on a two game win streak over Missouri State, and Tennessee Tech.
The top point scorer for the Raiders is Savannah Wheeler averaging 17 points per game, followed closely by Kseniya Malashka, of Belarus, with 15.2 per game. Jalynn Gregory and Courtney Whitson are the main three point threats with both hitting a third of their attempts or better.
TV for this one is only ESPN+, and if you don't have that, of course you can always listen in with Nick Curran and Cortnee Walton on 93.9FM The Ville.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
We had the full crew on the CCRHP call yesterday. After the usual pleasantries, we dug into a good discussion of what's going on with Basketball before turning to the joy and excitement of Volleyball winning.
You can check out the podcast at it's anchor.fm home at