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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Strong Friday for Louisville Women -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Happy Veterans Day

While yesterday was the workweek observance of the holiday, today is the day to thank all the veterans you know (or don't know) for their service to our country. Memorial Day is a special day to remember those that gave the ultimate sacrifice, but Veterans Day gives you the chance to show your appreciation for those that are still with us. 

My grandfather served in the US Coast Guard during World War II. Supporting the Navy in the Pacific Theater, his ship was sunk by torpedo. To hear him tell it, cowardice from the enemy submarine is the reason he survived and I'm here today. The sub tailed off before the torpedo was fully clear, impacting the trajectory, and causing the torpedo to miss the target of the ammunition hold, which carried resupply ordinance for the majority of the naval ships in the area. 

Dada (as we called him) passed away in 2016 at the age of 93. One of the great honors of my life was escorting him at Butler's annual Veterans Day program. Due to the complicated veteran status of the Coast Guard, he was the only representative of the Coast Guard and one of the only WWII veterans in each of the ten years he participated. I'm extremely proud to say that he was specifically invited to participate in 2006 and 2007, despite neither my sister nor I attending Butler at the time. He asked to speak at the event during my senior year, thanking everyone for their hospitality and announcing that it would be his last year participating as I was graduating. I miss him dearly and think of him fondly often, especially on this day each year. 

Field Hockey Wins Revenge Game Over Iowa

Louisville field hockey last played Iowa in the early stages of a dreadful stretch to end the season. The Cards were coming off of a loss at Duke when Iowa handed them their first home loss of the year. It was the second of four straight losses before Louisville beat Boston College in the finale. That win, and the one over BC four days later, may have been what put Louisville in the NCAA tournament. The loss to Duke is likely what set them up for a rematch against Iowa.

Although the final score ended up the same at 2-1, the way the teams got there was quite a bit different. For one thing, this iteration of the Matchup of the Birds took almost 18 extra minutes of game time to decide. Like in the first game, Iowa drew first blood, but it came in the second quarter rather than the first. It was Dionne van Aalsum scoring for Iowa, which should be no surprise. She scored both goals against UofL a month ago and scored 27 of Iowa's 58 goals this season. The first Iowa goal in October came off of a penalty corner rebound, while this one was open play. As a credit to Louisville's defense, the Cards gave up just two corners all game, and they held Iowa to just one shot on goal and just seven overall. 

While Louisville made the score respectable in the first matchup, the Cards' goal came with just ten seconds left in a game where they trailed by two. This time, Louisville found an equalizer fairly early. It didn't come in the same quarter, but Niamh Gowing scored an unassisted goal midway through the third to tie the game at one. After Louisville's goal, the Cardinal defense went into lockdown mode. For the remaining 40 minutes of play, Iowa would not get another shot. 

Louisville, meanwhile, struggled offensively in the fourth as well. After the goal, they couldn't find another shot in the third, meaning both teams played fairly even ball for about 25 minutes. That set up two already tense teams for an even tenser overtime session. As a reminder, the official* stance of Cardinal Couple is that we hate Golden Goal. (*That's not official but I'm pretty sure most of us feel that way.) The first overtime saw a penalty corner for the Cards midway through that resulted in India Reed (who took the corner) coming up with the only shot of the period. It went wide of the mark. 

The second overtime was just as deadlocked, with neither team making much headway as the clock ticked down toward penalty strokes. Another corner for Louisville gave them a strong chance, with Aimee Plumb firing a shot toward the cage. Minna Tremonti was there to tip the ball around the defenders and the goalie and Louisville advanced to the quarterfinals.

An overtime loss in this one would have been very sore for the Cards, who roundly dominated the match. Louisville had 10 shots compared to the seven from Iowa, and seven of Louisville's shots were on frame. They took four corners compared to Iowa's two, and they held possession of the ball for the majority of the match. If that had all been undone by an unlucky goal in OT, it would have been quite unfortunate. 

In the end, though, the Cards finished off the perfect opening round for the ACC. All five teams that made it into the dance advanced. Since only one of the quarterfinal matchups is an ACC game, that means that the Final Four could be entirely ACC teams. What's more, if the ACC teams (and the higher seeded ACC team in the case of Duke/Syracuse) all win, the semifinals will be a repeat of the ACC Tournament semifinals. Louisville gets Northwestern, a team that will surely be looking for revenge of their own against the Cards as Louisville gave them their only loss of the season, at 2PM on Sunday. The match will be streamed on Big Ten Plus, a paid service.

Volleyball Sweeps Duke

With things falling Louisville's way nationally in the midweek matchups, Louisville needs only to take care of business to move back into the top five. They're still waiting on a loss from Florida State, but Georgia Tech became the first team to fall out of the tie for first when they were swept by Pitt last night. Louisville, on the other hand, did their job with a sweep of Duke. 

The Cards made things a bit closer than they needed to with a struggle of a third set, but ultimately came out on top with final scores of 25-17, 21, and 22. Louisville hasn't looked particularly sharp for a few matches now. While I wouldn't say it's a major area of concern (except when it leads to losses), it's certainly something to keep an eye on. Louisville hit just 0.206 in the win last night, with an 0.088 in the third set. The Cards committed more errors than the Blue Devils over the course of the match and in two of the three sets. 

While the offense wasn't the cleanest, the defense was there for Louisville. They held Duke to just 0.151 hitting in the match and were only outhit in the third. Louisville had ten total blocks, led by two solos from Aiko Jones, and they went 9/9 at the service line. Duke, on the other hand, went 3/11. The Cards needed those service errors with the unusually tight offense. Louisville's best hitter last night was Cara Cresse, who managed a 0.538 from the middle. On the outside, Charitie Luper continues to grow into her own as a Cardinal with a 0.407. Luper led both teams with 13 kills, narrowly beating Duke's Kerry Keefe (12) and Gracie Johnson (10). Cresse had nine kills and Anna DeBeer finished with eight. DeBeer finished with a positive hitting percentage as well, hitting 0.192 but committing only three errors. She was well defended, as her percentage was brought down by the fact that she took 26 swings, just one less than Luper.

DeBeer also led the team with three service aces and had no serving errors. She added ten digs, matching Elle Glock and Elena Scott. Credit goes to Duke for sticking with a game plan to try to keep Louisville out of system by targeting Glock. I wouldn't say it's an "underrated" part of her game since most people are aware of it, but Scott's background as a setter greatly aids Louisville when teams attempt to target their setter. 

As far as the actual gameplay goes, it looked like a concerning start for Louisville when Duke went up 2-0 on a PK error and a block on an Aiko Jones attempt. The Cards won the next four points and wouldn't cede control for the remainder of the set. A late five-point run stretched the lead to 20-12 and Louisville put it away from there. The second, again, saw Duke go up 2-0 and, again, saw Louisville with an early four-point run. The Blue Devils stayed closer in the second, managing to use a three-point burst to get within one at 21-20. Louisville responded in kind, though, moving to set point at 24-20. Rachel Richardson nailed a kill to stay alive in the set but followed it up directly with a service error. 

The third looked as though Louisville had sorted things out at halftime. The Cards won the first five points, and continued to hold an advantage by pushing to 8-2 and 10-5 leads. Duke hung around, keeping within the same range for most of the set, before a quick run from 16-10 made it 16-13. Louisville looked to weather the brief storm, trading pairs of points to go up 22-17. Duke stopped trading after that, rattling off five straight to erase the early Louisville advantage and give us a new game at 22-22. Three of their five points in that run made up three of their seven total blocks on the match. Undeterred, Louisville's stars closed it out. DeBeer nailed a kill from Glock, followed it up with an ace, and Luper closed it out off of a pass from Scott. 

The Cards will host another resident of Tobacco Road on Sunday when they take on UNC. I'd joke about them taking the same bus, but it would have been tough since UNC played Wake Forest last night and Duke is at UVA tomorrow. UNC won in five sets last night on the road less than a week after losing to the Demon Deacons in five sets at home. The win moved the Heels to 6-9 in conference and 12-12 overall. Louisville should have no issue with the Baby Blues at home, but that's why they play the games. Tomorrow's match is at 1PM and will stream on ACC Network Extra.

Cross Country Wraps Season at Regionals

We haven't talked much about Louisville's running sports this year with everything else that has been going on. As a result, the women's cross country team quietly put together a strong season in their first year under a new program director. Rylee Penn, a grad transfer from Cincinnati led the way for Louisville in yesterday's final meet in the NCAA Southeast Regional, finishing the 6K run in 20:45.2. Her pace was good enough for 31st overall, just missing out on All-Region honors. Louisville placed four more runners in the top 100, with Lexie Paszkiewicz finishing 56th, almost 100 spots better and more than two minutes faster than last season.

Overall, the Louisville women finished 9th in the event. That's their best finish in the regional meet since 2017 and improves on a 22nd place finish in the event a year ago. With no one advancing to the national events, the Cards will get nearly a month off before Indoor Track and Field season begins on December 2nd. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We're without Jared this week, as he doesn't want his in-laws to join him on the show or something. The other four knuckleheads (that's right, we've got Daryl back) will have plenty to discuss, as we talk about the continuation of the fall sports seasons and the season opening win for Louisville women's basketball. 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!


1 comment:

  1. It was nice to see Sherman come in and give them a spark in the 3rd set. I wish she’d could get more playing time, but I guess it’s hard to find room with the current roster. DBK has assembled a great group, I’m confident they’ll finish strong and do great in the NCAA tourney


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