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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Worldwide Volleyball Update -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Volleyball Update

Worldwide is writing about Volleyball again?  I'm sure you're shocked.

Jared covered the news the other day that Tess Clark had signed a Pro contract in France to play volleyball, and that news, on the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday, led into a bit of a path down Volleyball news and updates that we had not really covered very well.  So let's do a little catching up with the situation for Volleyball, including a discussion of their schedule for the Fall, as well as a quick rundown of the new folks expected to join the team.

Let's start with a roster update.  With the graduation of Tess Clark, Maggie DeJong, Gabbie Wiley, and Colene Coussens, along with the departures of Kali Eaken, and Alexia Byrnes to other schools, the Cardinals Volleyball roster is depleted in numbers, but really not suffering too badly for talent levels.  If you look at the roster site, you'll see it has been updated to remove the graduates and transfers, but hasn't yet added incoming Freshmen (and, who knows, we may still get a surprise incoming transfer).  Basically what you see if you look right now is the lineup that the Cardinals had for spring play...a playing schedule that saw a reasonable degree of success.  Almost certainly in the starting lineups you'll see: Molly Sauer and Alexis Hamilton in defensive roles, with Molly almost certainly retaining the Libero jersey.  Wilma Rivera will continue to be lead the team at the setting position, while Jasmine Bennett and Piper Roe will be playing in middle blocker/hitter roles.  So far, these are rather safe predictions.  As for hitting, things get a bit murky.  Melanie McHenry, and Amanda Green are pretty much shoe-ins for the role, and you would expect, with this roster, for both of them to play full rotations and fill in with defensive roles.  Beyond that, Marijke van Dyke, the January transfer from Illinois, should continue to have an offensive role, and Megan Sloan will likely get some time to shine as well.

Now let's shake it up a bit and look at the incoming freshman, and see how they may make some
changes to the above.  The biggest lack is in outside and opposite hitting, though it would be nice to pick up another good asset for the defense.  A backup setter would be nice as well, and if we're filling out a wish list, a middle blocker/hitter to be in development.  Specifically in hitting, we don't really have any hitters who are particularly adept or specialized in right side, or opposite, hitting.  So who are the newcomers?  Let's take a look:

Claire Chaussee - 5'11" Outside Hitter from Wisconsin
Aiko Jones - 6'1" Right side/Opposite Hitter from Jamaica
Emily Scott - 6'2" Middle from Wisconson
Anaya Martin - 5'7" Setter from Georgia
Maggie Mullen - 5'3" Libero/Defensive Specialist from Nebraska
Mia Stander - 5'3" Libero/Defensive Specialist from Georgie

OK, outside hitting, including some emphasis at right side/opposite:  check
Flesh out the defense a bit:  check
Backup setter:  check
Middle to be in development:  check

And now I'm excited for Volleyball season to get started.

What do I know about these players?  Well, as incoming freshmen, there are a lot of question marks.  The hitters are both quite athletic, particularly Aiko Jones as I understand it.  The word about Maggie Mullen is that she is the real deal in defense.  The other three, I'm not terribly familiar with, so we'll have to see how they fare at the Red and Black Scrimmage (August 18th, 6pm, Cardinal Arena, free admission).  So with the pressing needs being hitting and defense...I'd say we're in pretty good shape.

Oh, I've also seen a hint of what's to come for 2019, it just keeps getting better.

Let's move on to scheduling and twitter...oh wait, no, that's our Radio Hour process.  We're just going to talk about the Fall Volleyball schedule here.

The Red and Black Scrimmage, mentioned above, gets things rolling with a sneak peak of what the team is going to look like.  Do keep in mind that this event always happens about halfway through the "Fall Camp" for volleyball.  The team gets about two weeks of 2-a-day practices before school starts, and the Red and Black Scrimmage is after the first typically.  More improvement will happen after the scrimmage and before the schedule gets underway.

The first weekend, August 24th and 25th is the Cardinal Classic, with Tennessee-Martin, Southern Illinois, and IUPUI coming to Cardinal Arena.  This will be a good warmup for the Cards.

Heading south for the next weekend, the University of Florida Tournament will be the destination where the Cards will be meeting up with Central Florida and USC (Southern Cal), in addition to the host Gators.  Nothing like getting into serious matchups early in the season.  USC is a perennial Volleyball powerhouse (shockingly...they're in the PAC-12...Volleyball is the one sport that conference seems to be really good at), and Florida had some barnburners of matchups against a very good Kentucky team in the SEC last year.  This one runs 8/31 through 9/2.

The next weekend, Lipscomb and Xavier, head north with the Cards (ok, well, mostly west for Xavier, but a bit north as well) to be hosted by Purdue.  The Boilermakers have had some good years in Volleyball although they haven't been particularly strong in recent years.  This should all be good competition for the Cards.  9/7 and 9/8 for this one.

Mark your calendars for Kentucky to come back to Cardinal Arena on September 14th for the first time since September 16, 2009.  A 7pm start, this one should be loud and crazy.  In 2009, when UK played in Cardinal Arena, the stated attendance on the stat sheet was 1,270...Cardinal Arena officially seated 840 at the time.  I was there...I'm glad the fire marshal wasn't.

Chattanooga will be the next foe, and let's hope that CardNation doesn't still have a hangover the next day after the UK match for this one.

After that, UofL starts into conference play for the rest of the season with the usual foes.  One note on an ACC foe in Volleyball.  I mentioned, during the CCRH yesterday, that Notre Dame was continuing their rebuilding and was back to being a good team after a complete program implosion 3 years ago.  I specifically mentioned the head coach as being part of the reason for their rebuilding success.  (I didn't mention the name, because it had slipped my mind at the moment).  I did see news last night that, Jim McLaughlin, the head coach, has decided to step down due to health reasons, specifically back pain that has gotten severe enough to start interfering with his coaching duties.  The helm will be taken over, starting July 1st, by current Associate Head Coach Mike Johnson.  So, while we're not talking about a whole program shakeup such as occurred when Debbie Brown stepped down 3 years ago, any coaching change always brings about an extra little question mark.

Much as what transpired (but wasn't predicted) last year, I would expect FSU and Pitt to be at the top of the ACC rankings with UofL as the season progresses.  Only time will tell, of course, and it's extremely early to be making any significant predictions.  Both Pitt and UofL really surprised the conference to be at the top last year, so, as always, there could be a darkhorse that could make a run at it.  UNC has had years of greatness, NC State has occasionally stepped up their level of play, and Syracuse and Miami can both be real threats at times.

All in all, I expect a great year of Volleyball, and everything I see about this team, this coaching staff, and the schedule gets me hyped to get in there and lead the C-A-R-D-S chant again.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Do be sure to check out the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour from yesterday.  You can find it on Facebook live at:

It was only Paulie and myself in studio (it's June, everyone is on vacation or working!), but we had a good time and some awesome discussion about various events and updates.  Much of the above discussion on Volleyball is an expansion on what we talked about there, for example.

Check it out, it was fun.  You can challenge yourself against me in your knowledge of mascots around the country.  Be warned, you better bring your A game, because I sure did!

We should be back to a fuller house next week.



  1. Let me remind everyone coming to the Red/Black scrimmage that Cardinal Arena is NOT air conditioned. Last year it was HOT and the concession stand was not open. Hopefully, this year there will be a concession stand or some UofL group selling cold water out of a cooler.

    1. I hate to "Well, actually..." my own mother, but Cardinal Arena *is* air conditioned...just not nearly *enough*.

      It does get warm in there, particularly when a crowd of people are there, so the admonition to be ready for a warm environment is certainly good.

    2. OK...well it might as well have not been. Players, staff had water but there is no place close to even go get a drink.It was so hot that my granddaughter and I left. So, if anyone takes to someone from the volleyball organization or if someone from that organization reads this, give us a plan to either have drinks available or okay bringing them in.

  2. It looks like Dani has done well with what Anne left her and what she has been able to bring in. I can't wait to see this team arond the time Dani has her first class of "Dani recruited" seniors.

    Curtis "A.K.A. as Charlie the Tuna because of his net tendencies" Franklin.

  3. LOL. I was a bit of a "Charlie the Tuna" back in my playing days, too. Excited as well to see what the Volley and Serve Cards got this year.


  4. Apparently the Indiana Fever have signed Cardinal Couple fav Asia Taylor.

    You go ATay!

    1. Saw it on Twitter. Listed as a guard, though?

  5. We'll have an article about it in the Tuesday edition of Cardinal Couple.



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