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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Cardinal Couple - Election Day Edition

First Off

Because Cardinal Couple is a 501(c)3, I won't be taking any partisan positions here, but it is election Tuesday.  If you haven't done so, yet, either through early voting or just getting up earlier in the morning than I do, please go vote.  This is important stuff, all the way down-ballot, so please go vote for the candidate of your choice.


Paulie promised an analysis of the volleyball matches from the weekend, and you all probably know me well enough to know that I'm happy to oblige.


First up was Duke for the Friday match.  Duke is a pretty dern good team, sitting 2nd in the ACC just behind UNC trailing by only one match, though unranked nationally.  Duke has some height, and it shows in the blocking stats with the Blue Devils tallying 9 to our 3.  I feel somewhat like a broken record in saying that the Cards struggle against good blocking teams...FSU, UNC, Syracuse, and now Duke are prime examples of this.  I'll bring out one bright spot in this one.  UofL only committed 2 service errors, a refreshingly low number compared to many of the matches this season.

For individual kudos, Molly Sauer picked up 20 digs, which is a pretty impressive number for a 3 set match.  While Gabbie Wiley tallied 10, which is equally impressive (remember, she only has about half the rotations to get hers compared to Molly).  Also credit on this stat to Melanie McHenry with 8, and very impressively for a middle, Tess Clark got 5.  Somewhat counter-intuitively, I suspect as others get stronger in their passing, it lets Sauer take up less of the court, but (and here's the counter-intuitive part) increase her dig stats as she's able to get a more solid pass rather than trying to stretch her coverage so widely and her passing suffering for it.

The return of Janelle Jenkins to the line-up is almost certainly encouraging to the team, but she wasn't much of a factor in this one with only 1 kill and 4 digs.  The offensive highlights go to Tess Clark with 11 kills for .450, and Jasmine Bennett with 7 for .261.  These numbers (and the kills attempted numbers, 20 and 23 respectively) suggests that while we're getting our digs and passes, they may not be as on target as they should be, and indeed this was my impression from watching some of the match.  The more we can pass accurately, the more we can run middle attacks and the better we do as a team.

I continue to see improvement from Morgan Miller on the attack, with 6 kills, but errors bring her average down to only .074.  If she can clean up her play, she will be a force to be reckoned with.  Some of that will improve as our passing and digging improves.  Our outsides tend to get set with marginal quality sets because Kali Eaken is struggling to get to off-target passes, yet more examples of how one phase of play being off leads to a decrease in the stats of the following phases.  Melanie McHenry is also struggling with some of this.  She had 8 kills on 35 attempts for a .086 average.  That's a large number of swings, but she is frequently the only offensive option when our passes are off, so she is hitting into double and sometimes triple blocks which drops her success rate tremendously.  With another couple of years under her belt, she may figure out how to hit around and through those blocks a bit better, but she does very well for a freshman, and I remain super enthusiastic about her presence on the team.

Wake Forest

Wake Forest is a middle of the pack of the ACC team, but several positions ahead of Louisville in the standings, so the Cards sweep over the Demon Deacons represents something of an upset based on the conference standings.  No video on this one that I was able to find, so my impressions come completely from stats.  The Cards faced an additional challenge, though not an unfamiliar one, in this match as Kali Eaken was unavailable to play.  This moves Morgan Miller out of the hitting rotation and splitting time with Lindsay Palmer at setter.  This means that the Cards were certainly happy for the return of Janelle Jenkins back to the attacking ranks this weekend.

The offense was provided by the usual suspects, Melanie McHenry with 12 for .214, and the middles Tess Clark and Jasmine Bennett, (6 for .556!, and 7 for .545!).  Morgan Miller did double-duty by putting down 5 attacks relatively error-free for .200 as well as her setting duties.  Digging and passing was by committee, which is the way I really like it.  Molly Sauer had a relatively low total of 9, which was matched by Lindsay Palmer, McHenry got 7, 5 for Gabbie Wiley, 4 for Morgan Miller, 3 for Tess Clark, and 2 for Janelle Jenkins.  Service errors were back up to a higher number than I would like with 9, but thankfully Wake Forest gave most of those back with 7 miscues of their own.  An overall .272 hitting percentage isn't anything to write home about, but it's a step in the right direction.


The progress from the early season is significant, as fans we need to keep telling ourselves that, and as the team continues to clean up a few things, the results will improve.  Digging and passing remains our weakest link, but improvements are visible.  Many of the main contributors to the team are young and gaining experience quickly.  Don't give up on this team, they're a great bunch of folks, and aside from a bit of frustration at the results they're seeing, they are enthusiastic and see hope for the future.

- JMcA


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1 comment:

  1. Whatever happened to Ashley Pettibone? She was getting some rotation on the court early season but you don't hear about her anymore


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