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Sunday, September 14, 2014

Cardinal Couple Sunday

A Mixed Bag for Volleyball

As Paulie mentioned, Louisville Volleyball competed in the Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational on the campus of Morehead State University.  As is typical for these early season events, this was a round-robin matchup of four teams over the course of 2 days.

Louisville started out with Arizona State University, a matchup that I was eager to see, but was also very nervous about.  Arizona State has been gaining a lot of attention this season for their success and was expected to be something of a surprise contender in the always-super-competitive PAC-12 conference.  Maybe they will, but what I saw Friday afternoon certainly wasn't the play of a #15 team in the country.  I probably wouldn't even describe it as the play of a Division I team.  There's no way of sugar-coating this, they just played horribly.  Louisville played a good match, but the story of this matchup was the horrendous digging and passing of the ASU squad.  Offensively ASU looked good...when they could get an offensive set run, but defensively they just looked inept.

Louisville started off the first set and drove out to a substantial lead, but ASU did claw much of that back with Louisville holding them off for the first set 25-23 win.  After than, the wheels fell off for ASU with the next two sets falling easily to UofL 25-13, and 25-17.  The third set wasn't as close as even that 25-17 score would suggest as Anne Kordes started shuffling up the line-up a little bit to take the opportunity to look at some different line-ups in play.  A few errors resulted from the less familiar line-ups, but the outcome of the set and match was never in much doubt at that point.

In the evening session ASU looked just as hapless in their first two sets, but when they were on the ropes in the third, something finally clicked, and the ASU team that I expected to see finally showed up.  They roared back from a big deficit to take the third set, and then went on to convincingly win the fourth and fifth sets.  I wish I had known that this match were going to go five sets.  With the UofL vs Morehead match to follow, knowing that ASU vs Northern Illinois was going five would've given me enough time to watch most of the UofL women's soccer game vs Morehead that was being contested only a couple of blocks away.

Louisville had an easy time of their Friday evening matchup against Morehead State.  MSU just doesn't play the same level of competitive Volleyball that Louisville, ASU, or Northern Illinois play.  They don't play badly, but they are just a step down from the rest of the teams involved in the weekend.  Anne Kordes cleared the benches in the third set of this one, giving all of the players on the trip some playing time.  Brooke Betts got a powerful kill that got the whole team cheering for her.  Gabby Wiley stat'ed a dig, and Eleni Georgiafandis didn't get any stats, but had a few solid minutes and a few good passes in her defensive specialist role.

Yesterday brought the last matchup of the tournament for Louisville, against Northern Illinois University (NIU).  I was impressed with NIUs blocking in their previous matches, and overall they looked like they played a solid and fairly workmanlike style of volleyball.  They weren't spectacular and flashy, but they also didn't make too many mistakes.

The first set of the match was an easy UofL win, but that didn't last.  Starting with the second set, Louisville started having a lot of trouble getting clean digs and passing.  Offensively, when we were able to get into our offensive system, we were able to continue to score on NIU which kept the sets close, but just couldn't stop the NIU attack either.  With both teams readily scoring, the score was back and forth, including some extra points, and a full five sets.  NIU was eventually able to capture the win in the fifth set.

There are still some bright spots for UofL Volleyball, of course.  Our middle hitting continues to exceed all expectations I had before the season started.  Tess Clark, and Maggie DeJong are tearing it up in the middle.  Sprinkle a little bit of Janelle Jenkins in there as well, from time to time and as long as our passing game is good enough to let Katie get a quick set or a slide set to the middles, we may be a nearly unstoppable team.

Janelle Jenkins isn't just playing well in the middle, she's playing well everywhere she gets plugged in.  As mentioned, she's an additional weapon up the middle, but she's equally as adept at power kills from the outside, usually in the opposite/right side position.

Next up for Volleyball is a trip to Houston, for a round-robin tournament hosted by Rice University, with other participants being Stephen F. Austin, and Texas Southern.

Other Sports Playing Today

Field Hockey continues their swing through Virginia with a match at noon today in Williamsburg, VA against William and Mary.

Women's Soccer returns home for a 1pm first kick against Kent State at Lynn Stadium.  With a forecast of sunny and a temperature in the low 70's, you couldn't ask for a better day to come out and see the stadium and cheer on the Kickin' Cards.

And Women's Tennis is competing in Oxford, OH at the Miami OH Invitational.

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