We report on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports here. Thanks for checking us out! Click the picture of Louie to hear the latest Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast!!

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Cards Extinguish Flames -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Volleyball Sweeps into Second Round of NCAA Tournament   

Despite my hyperactive and pessimistic brain running through the potential sad headlines or leads I was going to have to come up with if Louisville somehow completely crashed and burned last night, none were necessary. Louisville brought in the Flames of the University of Illinois at Chicago and, other than a hiccup in the second set, had no real trouble snuffing them out to advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament. As the number one overall seed, Louisville was presumably matched against the lowest ranked team to make the tournament, so it would have been quite the surprise if this match had ended in anything other than a sweep. In the first round, the 16 seeded teams won their matches by a combined 48-0. Impressive stuff, when you think about it.

As for the Louisville match last night, the Cards--having just watched another Cardinals team win on their floor--jumped on the Flames early. Louisville won the first four points on two kills, an ace, and an attack error from UIC, and it was all downhill for the Flames from there. They finally grabbed their first two points to make it 4-2 before Louisville went on a 17-6 run to put the set away. At 21-8, the teams traded a few points before an error by UIC gave the Cards the 25-11 victory. Louisville finished the set with 15 kills and no errors for a whopping 0.577 hitting percentage while UIC struggled to just 0.086. Despite the lopsided hitting percentages, only two of Louisville's 11 blocks came in this set. It looked like the Cards would breeze through this opening match.

Unfortunately, the error bug hit Louisville in the second set. The first point of the set went to UIC on a handling error by Aiko Jones, and that set the tone. UIC grabbed three of their four blocks in this set and Louisville added five of their own attack errors along with that handling error and their only service error of the match to basically give away ten points. Wait, did I read that right? Yep. Louisville committed just one service error throughout all three sets, compared to four aces. As a team with ball control for most of the match, that few errors is fantastic, and you'll take the lower number of aces when playing against a team you expect to have outmatched. On the flip side, UIC had just one ace and five errors, giving the Cards a nine-point advantage in the service game. 

Back to that second set, though. After the blistering hitting start in the first, Louisville muddled through the second. They finished with a 0.200 mark in the set, brought up by a streak of six kills interrupted by just one block in crunch time of the set. The two teams traded points for the first half of the set or so before back-to-back blocks gave Louisville a 16-11. That seemed like it would swing the momentum to the heavily favored team, but the lone service error came at an incredibly inopportune time. The Flames used Anna DeBeer's errant serve as a catalyst to rattle off a 7-1 run and take an 18-17 lead. The run included hitting errors on three of four points in a row and was capped off by a block. However, Louisville was able to refocus in that crunch time I mentioned. Louisville won eight of the final ten points of the set to take it 25-20. Over that time, UIC's only two points came from a single kill and a block, and Louisville only earned one point from a UIC error. The Louisville offense turned their hats around backwards in the way someone does in a cliche sports movie when things get serious and they went to work.

After the halftime break, where Coach Dani Busboom Kelly told Tori Dilfer to keep the offense balanced, Louisville left no doubt about why they were undefeated and the top seed. After UIC took the first point, Dilfer received her instruction about balance as "Aiko Jones needs more touches." Louisville won the next seven points with three kills by Jones. After giving up another point, they won four more. Over the course of the third set, UIC never won two points in a row. Since Louisville opened the set with the serve when UIC took the first point, that means that the Flames didn't win a single point on serve for the entire set. To me, that's insane. To Louisville volleyball, that's taking care of business. After their huge runs put them up 17-5, the teams more-or-less traded points until Louisville closed the door with a Claire Chaussee kill to win 25-11. It was a perfect bookend to a match that opened 116 points prior with a Chaussee kill.

I've posted Coach Busboom Kelly's comments in full at the bottom of this column because they're a good read. I appreciate the UofL SID staff for getting and posting them. One thing that stood out was the balance she mentioned. We've waxed poetic this season about the hitting out of the middle, and Anna Stevenson and Amaya Tillman have deserved it. However, last night made it seem as though the only film UIC had seen indicated that they just needed to cover off the middle. Boy, was that wrong. Louisville's outside hitters feasted, as Aiko Jones, Anna DeBeer, and Claire Chaussee had the three highest hitting percentages in the match. All five hitters that took a swing had double digit attempts, and, while Tillman and Stevenson contributed with ten kills, they also added five combined errors. Jones, DeBeer, and Chaussee combined for six errors, but they put in 32 kills. Perhaps it's unfair to include Jones in that combined errors number, since she finished with ZERO on her way to a 0.643 hitting percentage. She nearly had a double-double, adding nine digs to her nine kills, and she also added four block assists. Jeff mentioned in our text group last week that Notre Dame may have woken up Aiko, which would put the whole country on notice. Let's hope this performance was an indication of what is to come.

As stellar and as balanced as Louisville's offense was, they were nearly as balanced defensively. No one was able to be called out as a weak link defensively as the Cards had just the one handling error and one receiving error while gathering 47 digs. 47 digs!! In just three sets!! I mean, jeez, UIC only had 28 kills. In addition to Jones' nine, Tori Dilfer had eight, DeBeer five, Bartlett six, and Elena Scott led the way with 17. She also picked up the slack when Dilfer was out of system with three assists. Dilfer had 35 of the team's 39 (on 42 kills, phew). Blocks were also well distributed, with every hitter and Dilfer getting at least one block assist. Tillman led the way there with five assists and a solo block.

Louisville will look to carry their momentum into this evening's match against Ball State. The Cardinals from Muncie took down the Wolverines in five sets yesterday, so they played quite a bit more ball than Louisville. Fortunately for them, they will have had about 24 full hours of rest to prepare, with tonight's match getting underway at 6PM. Daryl wishes to pass along her apologies for the 8PM time she posted yesterday, as the bracket led her astray. Again, that's Louisville and Ball State at 6PM in the sold out L&N Federal Credit Union Arena. The match is available on ESPN+.

Let's take a quick look at the bracket as a whole, which I'm sure Jeff will dig into more tomorrow once the entire second round has wrapped up. As I noted previously, the first round was mostly chalk. The bracket doesn't show the 2/3 seed for each tournament site, but there weren't any outstanding upsets. The ACC advanced five of their six teams to the second round, which isn't terribly surprising given that three of them were hosts. UNC was the first ACC team to fall, but not the last. Five second round matchups have already been played, and Florida knocked off Miami to clarify who awaits the winner of tonight's match. Florida would need all three of the remaining seeded teams in the region to be upset in order to take the matches to Gainesville, while Louisville just needs to take care of business tonight to make Freedom Hall their home next weekend. 

While Texas, Baylor, and Purdue joined Florida in the Sweet Sixteen as expected, the second round also saw the first major upset. The first seeded team to fall became the fourteenth-ranked Blue Jays out of Creighton. They should have known their fate was sealed, as they were matched up against the Jayhawks of Kansas. A mascot disadvantage there, to be sure. While a Jayhawk isn't an actual bird, the sparrowhawk from which it originated (along with the blue jay) is a known killer of birds. KU took down Creighton 3-1, and they await the winner of the Pennsylvania rivalry between Penn State and Pittsburgh. Oddly, that rivalry doesn't have an official name. 

Jeff will have the write tomorrow, when he'll (hopefully) bring you the sights and sounds from a Louisville victory inside LNFCU. Once more: 6PM on ESPN+.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

With an exciting week for basketball and the volleyball tournament underway, we've should have a fun show lined up. Fortunately, the evening match gives Jeff the opportunity to join us for the podcast before heading over to Floyd Street for the Battle of the Birds. It'll be a throwback to the days on the Hill, as Jared leaves Paulie, Jeff, and I to our own devices while he plays in an ensemble. Daryl, as she noted yesterday, is still out, but we're looking forward to having her expertise rejoin the show as basketball season continues through the winter. 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!

Cardinal Couple YouTube: Link
Anchor (podcast host): Link
Apple Podcasts: Link
Breaker: Link
Google Podcasts: Link
Overcast (free account required): Link
Pocket Casts (free account and app required): Link
RadioPublic: Link
Spotify: Link

Until next time, Go Cards!

DBK Post-Game Interview

(Opening Statement) 
“I thought it was a really fun atmosphere tonight, you could just tell it was a little different, which is a good thing for the NCAA tournament. I thought UIC was really good and impressive. They’re one of the best passing teams that we’ve played, so I was just impressed with the way they competed and how they played. I know we did a great job of just staying balanced and sticking to what we do best and that's been our motto this week to figure out what our brand is and make sure we stay true to that … no matter what game it is, what time in the match it is and it was an excellent job by our team tonight.”

(How the team has handled being undefeated going into tournament play) 
“I'm really lucky this year, our team has great leadership and great maturity. They knew what they wanted from the beginning of the year. There was never a time of year where I had to motivate them. Our staff never felt like we had to do something special or do something different. I think having fifth-year seniors and the COVID year has helped teams be really composed and mature and we are certainly benefiting from that. It just comes down to knowing what they wanted and understanding that this is a really great opportunity. We knew from day one that this can potentially be one of the best teams that Louisville has ever had and that we have the opportunity to capitalize on that.” 

(Importance of not letting the opponent get momentum) 
“It's always important but in a tournament, you've already seen upsets and some big names go down in volleyball and momentum swings are huge game changers. That's why I was saying I would love to play this first and second round in a bigger arena but it's very comforting to be home and at L&N Arena where we're comfortable and we can use the crowd and that helps with momentum changes for sure.” 

(On being satisfied with the team’s overall performance) 
“I was satisfied with our performance; I think we had that spot in the second set where we made three or four hitting errors in a row on the first ball and that's pretty uncharacteristic for us. It was okay to have some of that in this first game and to get some of that out of our system. We've been balanced all year, so I really challenged Tori (Dilfer) at the break in between games two and three to balance out our offense. She did a great job of getting everyone involved and in double digits in attempts.”

Friday, December 3, 2021

WBB stomps Wolverines 70-48 -- VolleyCards face UIC in NCAA tourney; FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE


Good fall morning to all, we have another beautiful day in the 'Ville in the forecast.  Hope you get the chance to step outside and smell the leaves!  That is, until its time to get over to L&NFCU Arena for the NCAA Tournament match(es) as the VolleyCards are hosting the first round on the Cardinal's campus Friday evening.  

We will cover the tournament match later as we have the ACC/Big Ten Challenge to cover from last night... so let's get to it! 

Photo: Jared Anderson

Cardinals show out for the ACC in Annual Conference Challenge

WBB wins vs Michigan 70-48

The Cards put on a show for the crowd of more than 7,300 on Thursday night.  UofL got the victory 70-48 over Michigan.    

After starting the game 7-2, the Cards were waiting for me to get home to step on the gas on the Wolverines because when I walked in the door they went on a 28-5 run with just under 4 minutes to play in the half.  

                                                                  Photo: Jared Anderson

Emily Engstler dominated the stat sheet vs Michigan in the rebound column in the first quarter, the scoring column in the second quarter and had 18 points, 14 rebounds and a couple assists for the game.   Her on-floor presence inspired the Cardinal's offense and frustrated the Wolverine's at both ends of the floor.  A couple times, I referred to it as poetry in motion.   We are so lucky to have her wear the Louisville uniform.  

Photo: Jared Anderson

End of 1Q 15-9 Cards

FG %
6-14 42.9% Cards
4-12 33.3% Michigan
Reb. 11-6 Cards
3-pt %
2-4 50% Cards
1-6 16.7% Michigan
**Both teams had 5 turnovers

Kianna Smith lead the opening quarter with 7 points and Engstler grabbed 6 rebounds.  The two, along with Hailey Van Lith spent 9 minutes on the floor establishing the pace of the game for Louisville.  Olivia Cochran and Liz Dixon anchored the Cardinal front court while Mykasa Robinson and Chelsie Hall provided the experience. 

                                                Photo: Jared Anderson

End of 2Q 24-6 Cards

FG %
7-16 43.8% Cards
2-10 20% Michigan
Reb. 11-4 Cards
3-pt %
4-5 80% Cards
1-5 20% Michigan

Engstler explodes for 11 points on 5-6 shooting and four different Cards scored in the quarter.  HVL did not play after she picked up her second foul early in the quarter.   She was 1-2 with a turnover in the half.  

Photo: Jared Anderson

HALF 39-15

End of 3Q 19-17 Michigan

FG %
7-19 36.8% Cards
6-13 20% Michigan
Reb. 10-10 All
3-pt %
2-4 50% Cards
1-3 20% Michigan

The Card's did not slow up on defensive pressure after the halftime break, still pressing as if the score were 0-0, but they did pretty much cruise to a decided victory very early on in this one.  We got to see a variety of lineups on the floor going deep into the bench vs the #12 ranked squad in the country.  

                                                                Photo: Jared Anderson

End of 4Q 18-5 Cards

FG %
5-14 35.7% Cards
5-10 50% Michigan
Reb. 7-6 Cards
3-pt %
3-7 42.9% Cards
0-3 0% Michigan

 Photo: Jared Anderson


"we beat Michigan by how much, Fred?"

-- The Cards were 3-5 from the free throw line, good for 60% but doesn't meet our  70% efficiency we prefer... Kianna Smith and Norika Konno both made and missed one of their opportunities and Olivia Cochran made her extra point.   We will give a lower case f 

REBOUNDING -- UofL outrebounded the Wolverines 39-26.  Engstler chewed up the backboards all evening for the Cards leading with 14.  Olivia Cochran, Liz Dixon and Mykasa Robinson grabbed 5 of their own.  that qualifies for a CAPITAL R

EFFORT/EXECUTION -- A second consecutive game of too many turnovers to our comfort, 5 in the 1Q, 19 times for the entire game while also turning Um over 24 times.   The Cards had 32 points off turnovers and 16 second chance points.  They also connected for 13 assists on 29 made shots.  I'll award the CAPITAL E

DEFENSE -- The Michigan senior Naz Hillmon who averaged about 24 points a game this season was held to 12 points on 5-9 shooting and went 2-4 at the FT line.  She also had 8 rebounds, an assist, 2 blocks and 2 steals but turned it over 5 times.  As a team, UM had 24 turnovers.  UofL had 15 steals, 3 blocks and 24 defensive rebounds. CAPITAL D -fence! 



Ball State vs Michigan 4 p.m.
UIC vs Louisville 7 p.m. 

The winners will play Saturday 12/4 at 8:00 p.m. 

Cards vs UIC

The Flames did alot of their losing earlier in the season..  They're 20-11 on the year, winning 12 of their last 13 matches.  UIC has one of the highest-powered offenses in the country, ranking fifth nationally in total assists (1,548) and sixth in total kills (1,663) and rank 18th nationally with 202 aces on the year. The Flames' 12.69 assists per set this year rank second in the League and 34th nationally.  UIC has tallied 4,401 total attacks this season, second in the Horizon League and 15th nationally.

Paola Santiago named Horizon League Tournament MVP and All-Tournament Team along with teammates Martina Delucchi and Sohila Wafeek. UIC's offense features six players with 120-plus kills, highlighted by two with more than 400. Santiago leads all hitters with 459 kills on the season and is hitting .212 with 56 blocks, 310 digs and 34 aces. Delucchi is second on the team with 410 kills, hitting .209 with 49 blocks, 357 digs and a team-high 41 aces. Wafeek has tallied 1,033 assists on the year with 246 sigs, 20 blocks and 32 aces.

We have covered the Card's accomplishments and accolades extensively this season, so you know what a hi
storical squad we have coming into this year's dance.   They will likely watch the opening match to scout a potential next foe, but will not overlook the Flames as it would not be possible to do so.. UIC has a 6-10 freshman on the right side who is impossible to miss.  Her name is Salma Abdelhady and she was named to the All-Freshman Team in the Horizon League.

Tickets are sold out to Friday's match and only available to watch on ESPN+

NCAA Tournament results so far... 

  • Miami (FL) beat South Alabama 3-1 
  • Florida swept Florida A&M 3-0 

Miami (FL) will face off with Florida this evening at 7 p.m.

  • Purdue swept Illinois St. 3-0
  • Dayton beat Marquette 3-1

Purdue will face Dayton at 5 p.m. 

  • Kansas swept Oregon 3-0
  • Creighton swept Ole Miss 3-0

Creighton and Kansas will start at 8 p.m.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

I am still on radio hiatus likely through the new year.  The gang are, as far as I know, on regularly scheduled programming for Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

As always, Go Cards! 

Thursday, December 2, 2021

WBB Hosts Michigan -- VBall Friday -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

#5 Louisville Hosts #9 Michigan

Although there have been plenty of Top 10 match-ups this season (eight so far), #5 Louisville hosts #9 Michigan at the KFC Yum! Center tonight at 7:00 p.m., ET. This Big Ten/ACC match-up will be aired on ESPN as well as on radio on 790-AM WKRD with Nick Curran and Adrienne Johnson.

Coming home following a 3-0 trip out west, Louisville carries a 5-1 record on the year. The five-game win streak is highlighted by a 30.4 scoring margin in favor of the Cards. You can thank the tenacious Louisville defense for that.

The Wolverines put their unblemished 7-0 record on the line. They recently topped then-#16 Oregon State by nine and have two other games decided by single-digits, including an overtime victory against IUPUI near the beginning on November.

Michigan's entire starting five is a force to be reckoned with, but it's Naz Hillmon that's the true threat. The senior is one of the best players in the and is averaging a double-double at 23.9 ppg and 11.4 rpg. Her 0.623 field goal percentage (mostly around the goal) is one of the best the team. Hillmon won the 2021 Big Ten Player of the Year and has been named an All-American. Standing at 6-2, trying to find the right player to match up on her will be tricky. I suspect Jeff Walz and Co. will throw several different looks at her.

Michigan is outscoring opponents by 10.4 ppg, but allowing just 64.9 ppg so far this season has been a strong showing for the Wolverines. The defense is also forcing 13.0 turnovers per game while averaging 2.5 blocks per game. Hillmon has 10 on the year while Hailey Brown leads the team with 19.

This is the sixth all-time meeting between Louisville and Michigan. The Cards hold the 5-1 advantage including the last meeting- a 71-50 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

Louisville is rolling out new uniforms in honor of Oliver Lewis, an African American jockey who won the inaugural Kentucky Derby on May 17, 1875.

NCAA Volleyball First Round

We're just one day away from the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. 1-seed Louisville gears up to host the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) at 7:00 p.m. ET, Friday night.

The Flames are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever after claiming the school's first Horizon League title that featured upsets over 1-seed Milwaukee and 2-seed Northern Kentucky. UIC went 20-11 on the year and lost their only match against a ranked opponent, a 3-2 loss against then-#25 Marquette.

Daryl will have a full Friday column -- analyzing the WBB gams results  and breaking down this VolleyCards match preview more for you tomorrow. Assuming things go as expected, Case will then break down another match preview the following day. Then, Jeff can recap that win on Sunday while breaking down a women's basketball game against Belmont on Sunday.

On Another Note

Besides photographing four UofL games in four days and a collaboration with the newly crowned Miss UofL, this weekend also has me back in action with my musical talents. I'll be out for our Cardinal Couple Radio Podcast Saturday since I have a dress rehearsal. (EDITOR NOTE: I can't wait to see the pictures of Jared in a dress).

Our annual Christmas concert will be this Sunday at 3:00 p.m., at Jeffersontown Christian Church. If you need a breather from sports or just need something to help get you in the holiday spirit please come out for the hourish-long concert. Free admission is always a plus, right?

So between four games, other photo obligations, and two days of instrument playing, if you see me sleeping under a table or on a bench somewhere, just mind your business or I might get grumpy!

Happy Thursday and Go Cards!


Wednesday, December 1, 2021




With basketball taking the court Thursday and NCAA Volleyball beginning for the Cards on Friday, let's take today to look at and marvel just how great, how far and how exciting this volleyball season has been.

There is no question or doubt that Louisville Volleyball performed better than any other DI team in the nation during the regular season. It's now time to finish the job and go get the next mission -- an NCAA Championship. 

A team that is composed of so many different aspect of excellence in player personnel. Veterans who have been there since the start of the Dani Busboom Kelly era. Transfers added who have provided invaluable help, depth and talent. Freshmen and sophomores who have come in and performed brilliantly in their roles. A wonderful mixture of student-athletes who have jelled into an unstoppable force. Fitting that they sometimes wear the camouflage uniforms.


A unit on a mission. A mission that still has one objective left. To enter the post-season, win six matches and become National Champions. 

A squad with so much talent that they have to be an enigma to opponents. Just how do you stop them? If you try to shut down one aspect or player on this Cardinals squad, someone else always steps up to take the role of leader and factor in defeating the foe. 

A group that deserves your full attention, love support and backing. Forget about the football personnel changes/quandry for a few weeks. Re-focus from the return of a basketball coach. Share the love you have for a strong and talent women's basketball squad for a few weeks with the bonafide powerhouse of the 2021-22 season so far. Kindly divert your attention to THE program on the Belknap campus that is the news, that is the story and that is unmatched..

Louisville Volleyball. 

Remember the names. Jones, DeBeer, Stevenson, Hendricks, Scott, Chaussee, Dilfer, Tillman, Rush, Mbonu, Bartlett, Smith, Kong, Cresse, Stander, Morningstar, DeMarcus and Vasilou. All in, all united and one force. 28-0 overall. 18-0 in an ACC that sent six teams (almost 10% of the 64-team field) to "the dance". Salute and be proud of the genius of Dani, Dan, Chamberlain and their staff. 

A tram that proved to be better than Nebraska, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, the Big Ten, Big 12, SEC and all points between. Doing it on the road, and in an arena 1/10th the size of where hoops performs. 

Join that loyal fanbase hat has been there with them  every step of the way. We're "all in" here at Cardinal Couple -- Jeff and Jared never miss a home match, Case and Daryl follow intently and proudly on internet and TV and your senile, old columnist here Paulie tries to keep you up and informed on social media. Join us, won't you? 

There is a song out there, composed and recorded all the way back in 1983 that comes to mind. A song written before several of the Cardinal Couple staff were even born. Based primarily on basketball, the meaning is still relevant today. Rick Bartlett and Trese Osbourne with the Bobby Lanz Band. A song called Catch That Cardinal Spirit. Yeah, maybe not all the words apply directly to Louisville Volleyball in this song, but the general theme and idea is relevant. "We got it, and we want you to hear it."  And, SPREAD IT !!! Join the party. 


I invite and encourage you to "catch that spirit" for Louisville Volleyball, if you haven't already. It's one heck of a thing to have and experience. I can't wait for Friday to get here,,,,how about you? 



Tuesday, November 30, 2021

ACC Volleyball Awards -- Lax News -- TUESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

 ACC Volleyball Awards

The ACC announced their postseason awards for volleyball yesterday, and to no surprise, Louisville Volleyball's presence was felt. Dani Busboom Kelly was named ACC Coach of the Year, Tori Dilfer was named ACC Setter of the Year, and seven Cardinals were named to the All-ACC Teams.

Going undefeated in the regular season and winning the ACC by a whopping three matches (!!!) should make the ACC Coach of the Year decision unanimous. Coach Dani Busboom Kelly was given the award for the second straight year. DBK is the second Louisville coach to win ACC Coach of the Year after Anne Kordes received the honor in 2015.

Tori Dilfer also retained her award from last season, ACC Setter of the Year. Similar to a football team running their offense through their quarterback, the setter is crucial in order to run your offense efficiently. Wilma Rivera won the award back-to-back seasons in 2017 and 2018, meaning a Louisville player has held the ACC Setter of the Year title in four of the last five seasons. Katie George won the award in 2015, extended the Cardinals' streak to five of the last seven years.

Anna Stevenson and Anna DeBeer join Dilfer on the All-ACC First Team. All three repeated the honors from last season.

Claire Chaussee, Aiko Jones, Amaya Tillman, and Elena Scott were named to the All-ACC Second Team. Jones and Tillman were All-ACC honorees last year while Chaussee and Scott join the ranks for the first time. Scott was also named to the All-ACC Freshman Team.

Mabrey Shaffmaster (North Carolina) was named ACC Freshman of the Year, Mackenzie Cole (Duke) was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and Julia Bergmann (Georgia Tech) was named ACC Player of the Year.

All 15 coaches in the ACC participate in voting for the awards.

Louisville is one of six teams from the ACC represented in the upcoming NCAA Tournament. Pitt (2-seed), Georgia Tech (8-seed), Miami, North Carolina, and Florida State are the other five teams.

The top-seeded Cards will open the tournament on Friday night at 7:00 p.m., against the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC). Their match will follow the conclusion of Michigan vs Ball State (4:00 p.m.). The winners will face each other on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.

Season ticket holders have had an opportunity to put a request in for tickets already. The remaining availability for tickets will go on sale on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m., ET. We do not know how many tickets, if any, will still be available. We've had some issues with hyperlinks not working on the mobile browser recently, but the link to purchase those tickets Wednesday morning is listed below.

Although the NCAA does not require masks to be worn at their events, the University of Louisville requires masks to be worn indoors on campus, including sporting events. Please don't make the mistake of showing up without one as they will turn you away at the door.

Allison Daley to be Named to Canisius Hall of Fame

Louisville Lacrosse assistant coach Allison Daley has been selected to be a part of the next class to be inducted into the Canisius Hall of Fame. Daley is currently in her first season as a part of the Louisville coaching staff.

Daley was a four-year letter winner as a goalkeeper and holds the record at Canisius with 662 career saves. In 2011, she was named the MAAC Championship MVP. She was also named the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year in 2010.

Following her playing career, Daley played for Team Canada before becoming the associate head coach for them. When Coach Scott Teeter took the head coaching position at Louisville, Daley took over the head coaching duties at Canisius.

The Hall of Fame induction will be held Feb. 6, 2022.

Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!


Monday, November 29, 2021

WBB downs CSU 71-56 -- Volleyball opens NCAA against UIC -- MONDAY CARDINAL COUPLE



Louisville WBB finished their three-game western swing with a convincing win over Colorado Stare by 15 on Sunday afternoon in Fort Collins. 

It was the "Smith out western" weapons of Ahlana and Kianna Smith who led Louisville in scoring with 11 points each and Emily Engstler added ten to raise the Cards record to 5-1.


Louisville eliminated any doubt early by jumping to a 24-10 first quarter lead. The Cards had three threes in the initial quarter as well, and were never seriously challenged in the game. Walz was able to go deep into the bench early and get everyone significant playing time. 

The Cards went 28-53 from the floor for 53% and got 32 bench points in the win.  it was 41-25 at halftime and Louisville had held the Rams to 10-24 shooting. 

No Card saw more that 24 minutes (Olivia Cochran) and all 13 on the trip played at least four minutes. 

Wins like this back up what we thought to be true at the start of the year, Louisville is a very deep and talented team that uses their defense to create scoring opportunities of the offense and has shown very good passing skills this season. The Cards had 14 assists on the 28 made shots and Olivia Cochran had six of those assists.

The Cards led 57-40 after three quarters and finished the win with a 39-22 rebounding edge over Colorado State, who was undefeated coming into the contest. 


(No rollercoaster ride for Cards vs. CSU) 

The Cards were 10-13 from the charity stripe (76.9%) and Cochran scored all five of her points from the free throw line. That's good for a CAPITAL "F" --surpassing the 70% efficiency we like to see/ 

REBOUNDING -- A strong showing on the boards for Emily Engstler with eight and Kasa Robinson following with six and Norika Konno grabbed five. When you out-grab a foe a 17, that works for a CAPITAL "R" in the carom category.

EFFORT/EXECUTION -- Cardinal turnovers were a bit high, with 15. The Rams were face-guarding Hailey Van Lith but she sank all three shots she attempted. 20 points in the paint is good, but the main thing about the effort was that the Cards won the offensive boards battle 7-2.  I'll grant the CAPITAL "E" 

DEFENSE -- Another solid effort with eight steal and allowing the Rams just 38.9% shooting success. Colorado State had to work very hard in their offensive sets and didn't score more than 16 points in any quarter. We'll go with a CAPITAL "D" to close out the Fred Report.


The Cards come home, to face Michigan on Thursday in the ACC/BIG10challenge. A good team effort on Sunday for Louisville, against a CSU squad that I feel might make a little noise in the Mountain West Conference this season. 


Louisville Volleyball begins their quest to win the NCAA Volleyball Tournament with a Friday 7 p.m. match against University of Illinois-Chicago in the LNFCU. The Cards are the #1 overall seed in the tournament 

Texas got the #2 seed, Pitt the #3 seed and Wisconsin rounds out the top four. 

Ball State and Michigan are the other two teams that will compete in Louisville for a chance to advance to the Sweet Sixteen. 

To see the entire bracket, go here

Kentucky will start at home also, hosting SEMO and WKU made the 64 team field -- they'll open against South Carolina down at Georgia Tech. 

We'll have much more on this in the upcoming days, be sure to check back!


Sunday, November 28, 2021

Basketball Faces CSU; Volleyball to Learn Fate -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Late again! This week I'm over a day late. Let's hope the trend doesn't continue. After the sleeping restlessly Friday night, my body needed last night to recover, setting me up to sleep until nearly 10AM. Everything should be back on track next week.

WBB Travels to Fort Collins

Having taken their Thanksgiving holiday break on the road, the Louisville women's basketball team has one more stop before returning back to the Ville. The Cards will take on the Rams from Colorado State today at 2PM Eastern. CSU is part of the Mountain West Conference, who hosts their own "network." Today's game will be available for streaming via the site, which you can find at this link. The Rams host most of their games via that service, so we'll hope for a higher quality production than the jumbotron feed from Washington that didn't even include a shot clock.

Louisville is coming off of their 40-point romp against Cal Poly, while CSU's last game saw their largest margin of victory since the opener. The Rams beat Lipscomb 81-55 last Sunday, which is second only to their 35-point stomping of Colorado Christian on November 9th. Lipscomb is just 1-3 this season with their only victory coming against Shorter University, a private Baptist university in Georgia with an enrollment of about 2,000. Colorado State is undefeated, though, having also beaten Northern Colorado, Oral Roberts, and Denver. Colorado Christian does not compete at the Division 1 level, and CSU's four D1 opponents are a combined 6-14 so far this season.

Louisville doesn't have a ton of room to talk, as their victories boast a 7-14 record, while Arizona, Louisville's lone loss, brings the overall opponents' record to 14-14. Colorado State went 15-6 last season and were picked to finish 4th in the MWC this season. The Rams return just seven players from last year's roster, but one is McKenna Hofschild, a junior guard who was named to the Preseason All-Mountain West Team. Hofschild was the POTW last week in the MWC, averaging 19 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists over three games.

Last season, the Rams ranked well in categories that could spell trouble for the Cards. CSU was a top-ten team in ATO (5th), defensive rebounds (6th), 3-point percentage (6th), and they turned the ball over at the second lowest rate in the country. So far this season, in the same stats, the Rams rank first, third, twenty-third, and first. Louisville must be disciplined on defense and make their own shots on the first try. With five players listed at 6-1 or taller, CSU is bound to make it difficult to find second chance points. Louisville is 48th in turnovers forced, 21st in three-point field goal defense, and do not rank in the top-30 in offensive rebounds per game (for some reason, this stat is not populating beyond that top 30). 

The statistical matchups aren't ideal, but with then season being so young and the strength of opponent varying so wildly, it is hard to draw too many conclusions. Louisville does have the better team on paper, despite the cherry-picked stats, and the voters think so as well. However, Louisville has appeared sluggish at times. With CSU being on longer rest and playing at home in front of a white-out crowd, the Cards cannot afford to come out slow or they may find themselves playing catch-up. In a momentum game like basketball, that can make all the difference.

Louisville will be looking to even up the series history between the two teams, as they have played three times, starting in 1990. The Cards won that first matchup, played in the Seelbach Hotel, but lost both games that followed. The last time the two teams played was in 2001, so there isn't much in terms of recent history to cause bad blood. The biggest question is: Who will Sean Moth be rooting for?

Once again, today's game gets underway at 2PM ET and is on the Mountain West Network site.

Volleyball Selection Show Tonight

Typically, the selection shows for non-revenue sports are at extremely late hours on Decision Day because the NCAA doesn't expect them to be much of a spectacle and there isn't network pressure to finish any Decision Day games well in advance of the show as there is in basketball. Volleyball will be a bit different, as they'll get this one underway at 8:30PM. So long as they don't over-dramatize it, the show should end at a reasonable time. The show will air on ESPNU, which is another improvement over some of the other sports which just see their shows relegated to a live stream on the NCAA website. The 6:30 slot holds Miami vs Alabama in basketball, and there is no buffer between the events, so there is a chance that the show either starts delayed or on some other viewing platform.

As Jeff mentioned yesterday, there shouldn't be very much anticipation as far as Louisville's seeding goes. The Cards have been the top-ranked team in the AVCA Poll since November 8th and are currently receiving all but two first place votes. Louisville is also ranked number one in RPI, three spots ahead of Texas. If you're a Longhorns fan, that's got to be more concerning than the AVCA ranking. Pittsburgh takes the second slot there, followed by Baylor, before Texas comes in at fourth. I don't expect Texas to appear with a four next to their name tonight, but we'll see what happens. 

The real question becomes which teams will be headed to Louisville next weekend. The Cards will certainly hope they don't have to face Western Kentucky, a team they are very familiar with. The Hilltoppers are on the fringe of getting a seed of their own, but it will be tough. They're ranked 16th in the current AVCA Poll and sit at 19th in RPI. WKU went 27-1 this season, with the lone loss coming at home against Ole Miss. Ole Miss is ranked 50th in RPI, so that's not a great loss. 

The most recent projections for the bracket came out over two weeks ago on November 11th, so they may not hold a ton of value, but they sent WKU to Purdue, giving the Boilermakers the 12 seed. Purdue sits at 6th in the AVCA and 8th in RPI so they may be a bit higher up, and WKU may find themselves getting the opportunity to take on an even lower (higher?.. worse) seeded team. 

That same projection had Louisville hosting Morehead State, Dayton, and UCF, with all three being automatic qualifiers and the Cards facing Morehead State as, officially, the 64th ranked team. Dayton and UCF did their part and earned those AQ bids, but Morehead State did not. The Eagles were toppled by Southeast Missouri last week in the OVC Championship match. SEMO is ranked 87th in RPI, so it may be as simple as just swapping those two teams in the bracketology.

All of our questions will be answered tonight and the Cards will welcome their challengers to L&N Federal Credit Union Arena on Thursday.  

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

The show was hosted by just a trio yesterday, as I sat out, but Paulie, Jeff, and Jared took good care of the listeners. If you want to check the show out on YouTube, or subscribe to the channel, the two links below will take you to the channel page or directly to this week's show. If you're more the podcast type, links to various platforms are included, or you can find the show on your platform of choice by searching for "Cardinal Couple Radio Hour."

Cardinal Couple YouTube: Link
11-27-2021 show; YouTube: Link
Anchor (podcast host): Link
Apple Podcasts: Link
Breaker: Link
Google Podcasts: Link
Overcast (free account required): Link
Pocket Casts (free account and app required): Link
RadioPublic: Link
Spotify: Link

Until next time, Go Cards!

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Volleyball Perfection - Saturday Cardinal Couple

 A slight schedule change as Jeff takes the Saturday write for Case who is a bit under the weather thanks to a Covid booster shot.  Case expects to be back for the Sunday article.

Volleyball Perfection

Dani Busboom Kelly's volleyball squad has run the table for the 2021 regular season.  A perfect 28-0 season, a feat that hasn't happened in the NCAA since Missouri pulled it off in 2013.  The Cards finished the accomplishment against Notre Dame last night in a four set win, 24-26, 25-13, 25-23, 25-13.

Mia Stander caught in the act of vandalism

Notre Dame came into L&N FCU Arena last night with a 13-14 overall record, 10-7 in conference.  They needed the win last night to even be eligible for post-season play with the criteria being an overall .500 record.  With the Irish's crazy schedule and unpredictable play, if they had gotten the win, there was actually a chance that they would have gotten an at-large bid in the NCAA tournament...a slim one, but one nonetheless.

Louisville, of course, entered the game with the ACC Championship already clenched and maybe a bit of a Pitt hangover.  The Wednesday match against Pitt was the top ranked match nationally, of the season in NCAA volleyball.  The second highest ranked match nationally of the season was the earlier matchup between the two when the Cards were ranked second, and Pitt fourth.

Neither team set the court on fire in the first set, Notre Dame hit .143, and the Cards only swung for .098.  12 of Notre Dame's 26 points in the set came on UofL miscues.  Pitt hangover, indeed.

#20 Rachel DeMarcus being the first onto the
court to celebrate with her teammates
One of the advantages of having such a senior laden squad that has played together with minimal lineup changes for the better part of two seasons is having the poise and confidence to put that sort of an opening set behind them and correct course.

In the second set, the Cards basically said, "No, that's not how this regular season is going to end." and asserted their dominance.  Anna DeBeer set the early tone in the set, being responsible for five of the first eight UofL points to lead out to a Cardinal 8-2 lead with four kills and a service ace.  The Cards then cruised to the 25-13 win in the set.  The Cards hitting improved to .400 for the set, with the Irish cooling off slightly to .114.

The Irish weren't quite ready to go quietly, though.  Sophomore Aubrey Hamilton started the set on a hot streak and would get four kills in the set to lead Notre Dame out to a 9-7 lead.  Buoyed by four Cardinal service errors, they would push that lead out to 20-15.  Again, UofL would say, "Nuh uh." and roared back to tie it at 21 and then push into a 23-21 lead.  Trading points the rest of the way, UofL took the third set to take the 2-1 set advantage.  UofL hitting cooled slightly to a still good .300 in the set.

Tori Dilfer with parents Cassandra and Trent
Dilfer.  Trent, of course is a SuperBowl
champion quarterback.  Cassandra was a standout
swimmer at Fresno State.
Notre Dame opened the fourth set with a big Caroline Meuth swing right into the waiting big block of Aiko Jones and Amaya Tillman, and it really felt like the Irish pretty much deflated from there.  The Cards pulled out to another early 8-2 lead, including two kills by setter Tori Dilfer and would cruise to the set and match win, and finalizing the undefeated season, from there, exemplified by the .533 hitting for the Cards in the set.

UofL led in every stat category, with the biggest impacts coming from having five aces to Notre Dame's one, and nine blocks to Notre Dame's five.

Anna "Steve" Stevenson celebrating with the
ACC Championship trophy
Tori Dilfer was attack-minded last night, putting down another three kills in addition to the two mentioned above for an error free five of eight in hitting for .625 average.  I usually don't include Tori's hitting numbers because it's typically a pretty small sample size from the setter.  Anna DeBeer led in kill totals with 16 at a .231 clip, with fellow left sider Claire Chaussee being the most efficient of the main attackers tallying a .400 average out of 13 kills.

Aiko Jones has struggled of late on offense, but seemed to get back on track last night with nine kills in 20 attempts reaching a quite respectable .300.  Anna Stevenson also reached double digits with 10 for a .304 clip.

A good blocking night for the Cards.  Dilfer and Jones both got solos, but if you believe sharing is caring, then Amaya Tillman had four shares, Jones, Stevenson, and Dilfer each got a part of three, and Chaussee kept the number even with a share of one.

Freshman year manager turned team member
Jamie Vasilou getting ready to jump out of the
Digging and passing was led by super surprise freshman Elena Scott with 17 digs, but good contributions came from DeBeer with 14, Jones with 10, and Ayden Bartlett with nine.

The Cards chose to celebrate senior night with post-match festivities rather than the traditional pre-match approach.  They did take a moment just before the starting lineups to recognize the Notre Dame seniors, always a nice touch when teams do that, I think.  I wasn't able to quite catch all of the seniors recognized for Notre Dame.  I didn't catch all of the names, but it included much of the core of Notre Dame's team, including Charlie Niego (who didn't play in the match, she was on the sideline in a boot), Sydney Bent, Lauren Wenzel, Lexi Saulney, and I believe Zoe Nunez, and surprisingly, I think Caroline Meuth as well?  She is listed as a junior on ND's roster, but I believe she was recognized as well, perhaps she's graduating early and will be a transfer for graduate studies?

Emily Scott pondering whether she can Fosbury
Flop over the net.
In the post-match ceremony, Louisville recognized seniors Mia Stander, Emily Scott, Jamie Vasilou, and Rachel DeMarcus, along with super-seniors Tori Dilfer and Anna Stevenson.  We will still get a chance, here at Cardinal Couple, to report on Emily Scott beyond the volleyball season as she will be competing with Track and Field in the spring in the high jump competition.

A quick side note, I don't think I've ever seen an intro video garner a standing ovation until last night.  Without regularly going to UofL sporting events, you might miss that for the past few years, the intro videos in various sports have changed throughout the year, incorporating new clips from games and matches during the season.  Credit for the volleyball videos over the season goes to Asaad Ali, and he knocked it out of the park with the updates for the video last night, focusing on the seniors, including clips from as recently as the Pitt match on Wednesday night.  I'm not sure when he sleeps.

UofL 2021 seniors with their families, coaching
staff and AD Vince Tyra
Also in post-match festivities, UofL celebrated, and got to hoist the trophy for, the outright ACC Championship for the season.  They also brought out a bucket of scissors to cut down the net, a fitting tribute to such an amazing season.

Of course, with the ACC 'ship, UofL does officially get the ACC's automatic qualifier bid to the NCAA tournament, not that UofL's presence in the tournament was in any sort of doubt at all.  The only real suspense for the Cards in the selection show might have been whether they got the one seed if they had lost to Notre Dame, but with the win, and the undefeated season, I think it would send shock waves through the volleyball world if they are awarded anything other than the top seed.

Oh yeah, and that Missouri team that went undefeated in the regular season in 2013?  They were the four seed in the tournament that year, highlighting the need to have a good strength of schedule for tourney seeding, and went on to lose to Purdue in the second round.  Let's hope for better for the Cards.

We will find out officially what the draw is in the NCAA D1 Volleyball Selection Show on Sunday evening at 8:30 on ESPNU.  UofL Athletics will have to replace that net as the top 16 seeds get to host first and second round matches, which according to the NCAA page at will be Thursday and Friday December 2nd and 3rd, though there has been some confusion about those dates.  The top seeds that advance in each region to the Sweet 16 will get to host Regionals, rounds three and four.

UofL's hosting plan includes rounds one and two at L&N FCU Arena, and rounds three and four, presuming UofL advances will be at Freedom Hall.  The Regionals are currently listed on the above page as occurring on Sunday and Monday December 9th and 11th, so clearly there is still some confusion there, as well.

The Volleyball Final Four will be held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH, Thursday and Saturday December 16th and 18th.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We'll at least have a trio on the call today for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast.  Paulie, Jared (maybe a bit sleep deprived), and myself will be on the call.  The Covid-booster-recovering Case is a game-time decision.  Daryl, as mentioned yesterday, has family obligations.

Expect plenty of discussion of Volleyball, of course, but I'm sure we'll get some basketball talk in there as well.

You can find the live stream at the Cardinal Couple Youtube channel (as soon as I get the stream scheduled).

Friday, November 26, 2021

#1 VB Senior Day vs Notre Dame -- FRIDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Happy Holiday weekend, readers.   I do hope you got the opportunity to spend some time with family and friends yesterday.. and if you do venture out into the retail world today, be patient and kind with staff and fellow shoppers.  

I want to use the opportunity to say thanks and recognize a few things in my life that I am grateful for.  First, I am grateful to have my family.  My parents live close to me and have been together for more than 30 years and my sister for making me an aunt this year!  Today is also my dad's birthday!!  My dad is a HUGE reason I am such a big Louisville fan.  I am also thankful to have such a supportive and well informed gang at Cardinal Couple.  Its comforting to have such a welcoming crew who have your back no matter what! 

The Women's Basketball team is on holiday break until Sunday so with that, we've got the Volleyball to cover today.  

The #1 ranked VolleyCards (27-0) are closing out the regular season for Senior Day when they welcome Notre Dame (13-14) to L&N Federal Credit Union. 

Time: 5:00 p.m.
TV: ACC Network Extra

UofL swept the Irish (25-18, 25-18, 25-18) in South Bend back on November 15th.

The Cards hit .206 with 42 kills, five aces and 14 blocks. Anna Stevenson had eight kills and eight blocks.  Senior Claire Chaussee added eight kills and a block and hit .368. Setter Tori Dilfer had 34 assists, an ace and two blocks. Libero Elena Scott had 12 digs and three aces.

Notre Dame hit .021 with 26 kills, an ace and seven blocks.   ND played without their leading scorer, Charley Niego.. she has not played the last couple matches for the Irish. Caroline Meuth steped up in her place and had nine kills and five blocks. Setter Zoe Nunez had 20 assists and eight digs.

ND is coming off two 3-0 wins over Virginia Tech and at Florida State.  

Coming up... 
NCAA Tournament Selection Show
The 2021 DI Women's Volleyball Selection Selection Show is on ESPNU at 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, November 28. That's when the field of 64 teams will be announced for this season's championship. Of the 64 teams, 32 teams receive automatic qualification while the remaining 32 teams will be selected on an at-large basis by the Division I Women’s Volleyball Committee.

The first and second round will be December 2-4 in a single-elimination first round competition. 
Regionals will take place from December 9-11.  The National Semi's will be held December 16, at 7:00 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The National Championship will take place December 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The championship will be held in Nationwide Arena in Columbus, OH.

The gang should be on schedule for podcast this weekend.  I will still be on hiatus, spending time with the fam. 

As Always, Go Cards