Volleyball in the National Championship
The Volleyball squad came up just short of Texas in the National Championship match, losing in three sets 25-22, 25-14, 26-24. The size and power of Texas, a team almost completely built this year out of the transfer portal, overwhelmed the Cards, and ended the historic run of the first ACC team to reach the National Championship match.
Texas, playing an uncharacteristically quick offense, was able to win the blocking stat, 9-4 versus the Cards. When the Louisville block did get set up, the Texas hitters were frequently just hitting over the top. Combine four Louisville blocks with five blocking errors, and the defense at the net just wasn't there for UofL, and the blocking game has traditionally been of critical importance for UofL, so the correlation between the performance there and the match outcome isn't surprising.
The Longhorns hit .371 in the match while UofL was only able to muster .189. Claire Chaussee led the Cards in her collegiate playing finale with 12 kills. Other bright spots were Anna DeBeer with nine kills for .316 and Aiko Jones with eight for .304.
So the Cardinal's volleyball season comes to an end one step short of a National Championship, but the season can only be called a smashing success. 31-3 overall, 17-1 in conference, another conference championship, a National Championship appearance, three All-Americans, and nearly a whole city unified in support.
There will be spring matches, and of course there will be another season starting in August, and much of this team is set to return. With only Claire Chaussee and Amaya Tillman exiting from the starting lineup the bulk of the rotation for the Cards will remain the same. Nena Mbonu and Alexa Hendricks are also departing. The team has five signees to join in the fall, plus three players that were freshmen this year that all red-shirted. Three of the five signees play Libero or DS to fill a need in a part of the lineup for the Cards that had essentially zero depth.
We already know the next steps for some. Claire Chaussee left as the after-match gathering that the athletic department planned for fans, staff, and the team was winding down, to go sign a contract to play professionally, probably in Italy. Nena Mbonu will be moving back home to play her fifth year with The University of Houston. Amaya Tillman expects to remain in Louisville and focus on her graduate studies, and promised to join me in leading the C-A-R-D-S cheer next year.
Next year's Volleyball Final Four is in Tampa, and there's a very real chance that this team could be back there again.
After a shaky start to the season, Women's Basketball has started to put the pieces together. Today's opportunity to demonstrate that progress is in Pittsburgh for the ACC opener.
Thankfully there will be no Courtney Buzzerio, or Valeria Vasquez-Gomez on this team. Pitt is not generally regarded as a quality team in women's basketball, but both Pitt and Louisville will arrive at the Peterson Events Center with four losses to their credit. Louisville does have more wins, eight vs Pitt's six.
Pitt sports two double-digit scorers. Liatu King is a 6'0" forward scoring 11.3 points per game, and not even a single attempt at the three point shot this season. Dayshanette Harris after having spent some of both of the last two seasons dealing with injuries, is back and scoring at a 10 point per game rate. Roughly a third of her shots are from beyond the arc.
Two other players get close to double digits, with Maliyah Johnson at 9.4 and Amber Brown at 8.3.
The game today is on the ACC Network at 2pm.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
It was volleyball heavy on the CCRHP yesterday, as you might imagine. Case, Jared, Paulie, and myself were on the call an hour earlier than usual to avoid football scheduling. Combine that with my presence in Central Time Zone, and just general sleep deprivation from being in Omaha for Volleyball festivities, you'll have to forgive me if I was occasionally incoherent.
All in all it was a great show, with a bit of basketball discussion in the end. Check it out at anchor.fm at https://anchor.fm/cardinal-couple/episodes/Volleyball-in-the-National-Championship-e1scvv0 or, as always, at any other significant podcast directory.