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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Cardinal Couple - Sleepy Sunday Edition


( Jeff McAdams with the report on Texas' 25-11, 26-24, 25-19 sweep of Oregon in the KFC YUM! Center Saturday Night)


Texas Takes the Title

Hosting success

A successful NCAA Volleyball Tournament has concluded.  The first time Louisville has hosted this event, it attracted the 8th highest attendance for a SemiFinals sessions, and the 2nd highest attendance for a Championship match.  If you consider that the highest attendance for a Championship match had the hosting team (Nebraska) playing in the match, that's quite an accomplishment.  Congratulations fellow Louisvillians, I think we represented ourselves well to the NCAA.  Next year we host a regional competetion, and I look forward to announcements of future Championships to be held at the KFC Yum! Center.


Thursday evening saw the semifinal matchups.

Michigan battled Texas to start off the evening with a 7 o'clock first serve.  A mighty battle it was, indeed.  Texas is a big and powerful team, Michigan smaller and scrappy.  This match was a match between a powerful offense, and a great defense.

Texas came out in the first set and dominated the play.  But Michigan had no quit in them.  In the second set, they came out loose and lively and played their game, rather than letting Texas dictate the way the match went.  Taking the 2nd and 3rd sets, they really put the pressure on Texas.  Credit to Texas as well, though, they got back in gear and took the bull by the (long)horns in the 4th again.  The 5th set was competitive, much like the 2nd and 3rd sets were, but Texas managed to hold on to the upper hand and advance.

A really exciting and fun match, but unfortunately Michigan's run had to come to an end.

Because the first match went 5 sets, the scheduled 9pm start for the second match got pushed back to around 10pm, most likely to Oregon's glee.

With UofL's Cardinal Pride filling in admirably in cheering on the Ducks, Oregon took on Penn State and surprised some people.

Oregon was well ranked all year, and playing the brutal PAC-12 conference schedule definitely prepares a team for a good post-season run.  Meanwhile, Penn State always has equally tough preparation with the powerhouse Big-10 schedule.

This match was also a barnburner.  All of the sets had pretty close scores, but Penn State looked like they were in charge in the 1st.  The 2nd, though, certainly woke anyone up that had started to nod off due to the late hour, throwing in some bonus volleyball finishing up at 30-28.  By the 3rd and 4th sets, I think Oregon really played their game and gave a bit of a preview of what was to come stylistically in the Championship match.  The large Penn State fanbase was clearly disappointed by the loss, but you have to credit Oregon with playing their style of play and getting the win.

Two to Tango

So the Championship match last night was between Texas and Oregon.  If the Texas-Michigan match was a storyline about an offensively minded team versus and defensively minded team, the title match storyline was about two very different styles of offense.

Everything is bigger in Texas, including their volleyball players and their sets.  The offense that Texas runs is slow, they set their big outside hitters with very high sets that take a long time to get to the hitters.  That does give the hitters a long time to get lined up and prepared for a high jump and a strong swing, and they take advantage of it.  It also, of course, gives plenty of time for the blockers to leisurely stroll over and put up a good double block.

Oregon, on the other hand, plays like their football team, fast and sharp.  Oregon's sets are flat and quick shots out to their outside hitters.  And while this doesn't give their hitters as much preparation time to line up and get a booming kill, it, crucially, doesn't give the other team enough time for their middle blocks to shift from the middle of the court out to the outside to put up a double block.  The preview of this was in the Penn State match, where you could watch throughout most of the match as Oregon put shot after shot in between the blockers as the middle blocker would almost always be jumping sideways to try to get out to the side of the court, but just couldn't keep up with the speed of the set.  The same thing happened a lot versus Texas, and when the Oregon shots got through the block, they were pretty successful in getting the point.

Unfortunately for Oregon, they weren't as effective at hitting through that blocking hole versus Texas as they were against Penn State, particularly in the 1st set.  The Ducks made a lot of shots right into the single blocks in the 1st set, both in the middle and outside, with disastrous consequences.  In the 2nd and 3rd sets, they did adjust and started hitting in between the blocks, but Texas was just too much for them.

I thought Texas would be in trouble because they play such a slow offensive set that Oregon would basically always have double blocks up on Texas...and they did...but it didn't matter.  It doesn't matter if you have one, two, or seventeen blockers up in front of a hitter if they're tall enough to just hit over the top of them, and that's exactly what Texas did.  Rarely did Oregon get solid blocks on hits, mostly they just watched as the hit sailed over their heads and into the backcourt.  Credit Oregon's defense with getting digs on a lot of the shots, but when the shots are flying as fast as they are off of Texas kills, you just aren't going to be able to get to all of them.

So, in the end, Texas takes the sweep and the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Championship.  Congratulations to the Texas Longhorns on a well played weekend.  Congratulations are also in order, of course, for the Oregon Ducks for advancing to the Championship match, as well as to Penn State and especially Michigan for making it to the Championship weekend.  That was a fun weekend of volleyball, all four teams and fanbases represented their schools well and I hope that everyone had a good weekend in Louisville.  Its a long time to the next first serve in August, but of course we have other team, softball, and keep us busy for a large part of that time.

( Great report on the action over the last three days, Jeff! Louisville is now a volleyball town, too -- just another reason why we are the best college sports town in America!)

1 comment:

  1. Will UofL/Louisville get the credit for hosting this event or the name "KENTUCKY"? In 1983 I believe "KENTUCKY" got credit for hosting the event. And why not, it was in Lexington. Now from a historical viewpoint I would think that "KENTUCKY" means UK to some folks right off the bat!

    How about some credit where it's due? As of tonight the volleyball site says "KENTUCKY" as the host site. Could someone fill me in on why can not type the word "LOUISVILLE," before the word "KENTUCKY"????
    Coach Kordes, please contact about this.

    On another note, "Look What We Can Do Louisville!!!!!"


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