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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tuesday Cardinal Couple




Weekly Honors

Field Hockey

After helping to knock off #20 Old Dominion Friday evening in the rain, Erin Schneidtmiller has
earned the Big East Offensive Player of the Week honor.  Schneidtmiller scored the game winning goal in overtime versus the Big East Conference foe.  Louisville Sophomore goalkeeper Sydney King was named to the weekly Honor Roll for her strong effort between the pipes.  Your author would like to award Sydney an honor for not having a name that requires double and triple checking the spelling when writing an article.

The Cardinals went on to get another W on Sunday in a come from behind victory against NorthEastern.


Maya McClendon picked up her first weekly honor of her career with a Freshman of the Week award from The American conference.  Maya hit a respectable .297 in the epic 5 set win over Virginia Tech Saturday night with 14 kills on 37 attempts with only 3 errors.  Brooke Mattingly, your MVP for the Active Ankle Challenge, was listed on the honor roll for her efforts on the weekend.  Brooke hit an error-free 9 kills on 16 attemps for .562 in the three set match against Rice, and tallied 20 kills on 31 attempts with only 4 errors  for .516 in the nearly two and a half hour long battle against Virginia Tech.

Volleyball Analysis

I'll be honest with you, 4-6 isn't a record that I particularly expected to see from UofL Volleyball this year, and its particularly not a record that I would have expected to find encouraging.  Such is the nature of the nearly-interminable non-conference road-trip that started the UofL schedule this year.  Lets take stock of the competition that we've played, though.  The first seven matches accounted for five of the six losses that The Cards have taken, and four of those teams have made appearances in the Top 25 rankings this season.

We've discussed the difficult non-conference and early season schedule that faced our Volleyball team that Anne Kordes has control of and that has
played this year, and we've talked about how many young players are playing important parts in our lineups.  To be fair, we do have five seniors on the team, four of which see playing time in our regular rotation, which gives us a nice leavening of leadership and consistency, but that regular rotation right now also includes a true freshman, a redshirt freshman, and two sophomores.  There is a lot of talent on this team, but we've seen some of the downsides of the relative youth of the team.  The number one downside is inconsistency.  Our youngsters are really great volleyball players, but there are times that they make bad decisions and just mishandle shots.  That gets solved through learning, and as humans we learn best by making mistakes.  The talent is there, consistency will come.

I'm excited by what I saw in the Virginia Tech match, and here's why.  I saw a team that came out with a good start and played a closely contested first set with solid consistent play which set the overall tone for the night with a 25-23 win.  The Cards really faltered in the second set...really, it was just bad, losing it 25-12.  The third set, though, is where I started to see things in this team that
are really encouraging.  If you didn't read the recap carefully, then you may have missed the score of this set - 36-34, and no that's not a typo, unlike some rec league play, there is no cap on the win-by-2 requirement in NCAA volleyball.  Just looking at the score you can infer that this team didn't give up.  They battled, they fought, and they maintained their composure.  What I think I like most about this set...well, in hindsight that we lost it.  Losing a set like that can be a really demoralizing outcome for teams, but this team took that loss, saw that they had been playing consistently well, and because of that were competitive with a good team.  More importantly, though, they really looked like they got comfortable out on the court.  I have had the opportunity to see a few of the road matches leading up to this weekend, and this was the first time I saw this team really look comfortable on the floor playing and that is the most encouraging thing I've seen all season.  The proof is in the outcome, with solid wins, at 25-18 and 15-9, in the last two sets to get the win.

This weekend sees the start of The American Conference conference play with The Odd Couple-like
travel partners Memphis and Temple coming to play at the KFC Yum! Center Friday and Sunday.  Neither of these teams look to be very impressive.  Hopefully The VolleyCards have figured out who they are as a team and ready to get some wins under their belt.

I'll be there.  Come join me.

-Jeff McAdams



  1. Volleyball misses Lola. Why isn't Kordes recruiting tall girls like all of UofL opponents have on their front lines?

    Blue Lou

    1. Similar to some of the discussion that we get about Jeff Walz's recruiting...I think Anne Kordes recruits good players, regardless of their height/size.

      In the past, much of tall players were eastern European (or western Asian) thanks in large part to Leonid Yelin's connections to that region of the world. Obviously Kordes and her coaching staff don't have those same connections. Yes, there are tall players in the US that could be recruited (Texas and Nebraska have built their programs largely on that concept).

      Keep in mind that we're still in early days of Kordes' tenure. We've only seen two recruiting classes under Kordes so far, and truth be told, only the most recent is *really* a full on Kordes class.

      We're seeing the playing style of UofL volleyball change as the team reflects, more and more, Kordes and her style. That transition really won't be done completely for 2 more years. Yelin recruited lots of tall players and emphasized blocking and hitting. Kordes tries to recruit more highly skilled players regardless of size and emphasizes more defensive play and offensive systems.

      I hesitate to do it, but I'll point out that we, in the opening weekend at Penn State, pretty solidly defeated the Leonid Yelin coached Syracuse squad. Overall, I think we're moving in a good direction.

      Just as the playing style of WBB changed over the course of 4 or 5 years as the team more reflected Jeff Walz's style vs Tom Collen's (anyone want to look back at the 2009-2010 WBB results? That's the equivalent of where we are with VBall and a new coach right now...though I hope the dip this year isn't as bad as it was for WBB that year), I think you'll see much the same sort of changes and success out of the VBall squad in coming years.

    2. And while we're at it...I'll point out that Lola was listed at only 5'11".

      Our current potential front-line players check in at 6'3", 5'10", 6'1", 6'0", 6'1", 5'9", 6'1", 5'11", 6'0" Lola's height is right in line with what we've got on the roster right now.

    3. You make good points, but UK had a taller front line, is still playing well and defeated UofL, much to my disappointment because I am a die-hard Cardinal fan living in the heart of UK country. It just doesn't seem to me that an excellent player in Welch is having the same successes with this smaller line than she did last year with Lola, Gwen, Kaitlynn and Tanya. I do see the potential in McBride and Jenkins, I just think they are too small for ACC Volleyball. I do expect UofL will do well against inferior AAC competition, but against ACC next year and minus Welch and the other seniors? See UofL as a middle of the pack team in 2014

      Blue Lou

    4. Oops. I meant McClendon

      Blue Lou

    5. Ah, the lack of respect given to Liberos. ;) Welch, being a Libero, doesn't the opportunity to generate much in the way of offense, but she sure is valuable out there on the floor.

      But, yeah, we've mentioned on the radio show, and I think here on the site that we graduated 70% of our offense in Lola, Gwen, Kaitlynn and Tanya last just don't lose that much offense and come back the next year as the same team.

      I hate to try to look that far ahead, but you may very well be right about us being a middle of the pack team for 2014 in the ACC. I guess I lean to the optimistic side and think we'll be better than that, but I do think it'll be 2015 before you really start to see this team emerge and possibly be playing in the upper echelons of the game on a national level. I go back to the comparison with WBB. In Jeff Walz's second year here, we went to the National Championship game in St. Louis...and it was done largely on the shoulders of a superstar in Angel McCoughtry and a team that largely was of Tom Collen's making, not Jeff Walz's. 3 years later, we made it back to the National Championship game on a team much more of Jeff Walz's style, and much more balanced (ok, one could argue that Shoni is a superstar, but she didn't carry the team on her shoulders like Angel did).

      Sure, size can be an advantage in volleyball, and you can't coach height...but its not everything. By most estimations, Oregon has a pretty small volleyball team and they made it to the National Championship game last year in volleyball. There are ways that a good small team can beat big powerful ones, and I do think you'll see that in the coming years. Right now, I do believe we're losing matches not because we're getting overpowered (for the most part, anyway), but because we've got enough young players out on the court that are making the sorts of mistakes that freshmen and sophomores do...what's great about losing matches that way is that you *can* coach your way out of that. If, however, you're depending on your team being big and athletic (like Coach Yelin does), and its not getting the job done, well, sorry about your luck.


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