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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Thursday Cardinal Couple



Volleyball Visit

Fall sports are getting tantalizingly close.  Karen Feguson-Dayes' Women's Soccer team is already playing...and winning..exhibition games, while the other fall sports are all into their practice regimins.

Volleyball is no exception.  As we heard from our interview with Head Coach Anne Kordes, the volleyball team reported to camp on August 9th and started practice on the 10th.  The team is practicing twice a day, and I had the privilege of getting to observe most of the practice yesterday afternoon and evening.

One of the things I was curious about was how much time was spent in practice doing skills development (like digging, passing, setting, hitting, serving, and blocking), versus practicing overall strategy and team tactics.  I didn't have a stopwatch on it, but it seemed to be about a 60-40 split in time in favor of skills development, with shifts back and forth between skills development drills and overall team tactics and strategy practice.  No doubt this serves to keep interest and energy levels higher for players in practice.  I suspect, as practice sessions move forward, more of the time will shift to tactics and strategy.

We've talked on the Cardinal Couple Radio show, and heard from Coach Kordes, that we have a young team, and that was evident in watching them practice.  We also have a team with a lot of amazingly talented players.  Combine those two statements and you have a recipe for seeing all the players on the court making some really amazing shots, but then turning around and seeing many of those same players take some real cringe-inducing swings.  It is, however, still early in the practices, so look for improvement there.  Overall, be ready for a team that could really knock your socks off with some spectacular plays, but be aware that we have a heavy dose of freshmen and sophomores that will probably make some periodic mistakes.  Watch for improvement throughout the season as players get more experience under their belts at this level of play and get more comfortable and confident in their play.  If you want consistency, look to Caitlin Welch, Hannah Kvitle, Katie George, and Brooke Mattingly...unsurprisingly, three of those were our USA A2 Team representatives and I wouldn't be surprised to see Katie George in that program in future years.

Maya McClendon is one of the talented freshmen
I was on a balcony overlooking the volleyball practice gym in the Yum! Center on Floyd street and one thing that really struck me is that our team is really short.  While perhaps somewhat accentuated by my perspective of looking down on the team from above, this is born out by the heights listed on the roster.  Brooke Mattingly, at 6' 3", is the only player that I would consider tall for a volleyball player.  Take heart, though, because there are some real leapers on the team.  According to Coach Kordes, two players...Janelle Jenkins at 5' 11" and Randi Ewing at 6' 0"...can both touch 10' 5" when they jump.

As a comparison, at my peak and my 6' 0" height, I never topped 10' even.  Other impressive high flyers are Emily Juhl, and Maya McClendon.  Javoni Faucette can also easily find her way to the top of the net.

If you want enthusiasm, you'll definitely have that, as this is a team that is clearly fired up and working hard to achieve their goals.  That's good because my visit yesterday has me excited for the season as well.

The first chance to see the team in action is August 24th at the annual Alumnae match at Cardinal Arena.  This is a free event and is always a lot of fun in an informal atmosphere.  The Volleyball Cards open the season with a lot of time on the road, with the first real chance of seeing them in regular season action happening down in Lexington on September 10th, 13th and 14th in matches against Kentucky, Minnesota and Pepperdine at Memorial Coliseum.  The home opener isn't until September 21st at Cardinal Arena against Rice and Virginia Tech...the match on the 20th unfortunately had to be cancelled due to scheduling conflicts.  They finally get to play at the KFC Yum! Center for the conference opener on September 27th vs Memphis.

There are a lot of really tough non-conference opponents on our schedule this year, and with so many of our matches on the road, the team faces real challenges.  With challenges come opportunities, however.  Beating good teams means better RPI ratings and better RPI ratings generally means better NCAA tournament seedings, and hopefully first and second round hosting opportunities.  Also, a road win means a bigger RPI boost and a road loss is a smaller RPI drop than home and neutral court matches.

I'm ready to side-out summer and start cheering for the next Year of the Cardinals.

-Jeff McAdams




  1. How does volleyball match up against UK this year? Disappointing loss last year in the KFC YUM! Center.

    Blue Lou

    1. I haven't seen UK in person of course, but I suspect it'll be yet another year where it should be a really good game. Craig Skinner always has a good solid team, usually very defensively focused.

      Preseason, they're ranked 17th, compared to our 19th, so that points to a good tight match as well...but preseason rankings are like that old TV show "Who's Line Is It, Anyway?" know, where everything is made up and the points don't matter.

      With matchups with Penn State, Syracuse, and Wisconsin before the UK match (and all on the road), we should have a pretty good idea by that point what sort of team we're going to have.

      UK should also have some pretty good tests before they meet up with us, with matches against Florida St., Illinois, and Long Beach State, so hopefully we'll know by then a little better how we should match up.


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