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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Sunday Cardinal Couple - Field Hockey, Picnic, and Volleyball

Field Hockey Alumnae Game

The kick-off to the Field Hockey calendar is their annual Alumnae game.  Former Cards come from near and far (Vic Stratton probably gets the "farthest from home" award, being from New Zealand) to take on the current squad in a game where the Alumnae are, well, pretty much pre-ordained to go down in glorious defeat.

It's a fun event, alumnae get another chance on the pitch, and hopefully retain enough skills and conditioning (or least sheer numbers) to give the current squad some challenges.  This year? Mission accomplished.  The current squad put up 8 goals on the returnees, but the veterans did get a goal, and put some real pressure on the current squad, which should serve well as part of their warm up for the season.

Veteran returners Taylor Stone and Katie Walsh showed why they are leading this team.  Ayeisha McFerran, who has gained so many International accolades, and particularly Irish, in the past weeks, was relatively quiet.  To be honest, the defense on the current squad team was stout enough for the most part that she spent much of her time with that squad (the GKs, McFerran and backup Hollyn Barr split their time with each side) leaning on her stick, or against the side of the goal frame.

As for new(ish) faces, keep an eye on Mercedes Pastor out of Buenos Aires, Argentina.  She's a 5'1" midfield/attacker and was consistently a part of developing plays and made her presence known in the opponent's circle.  After regulation play, they set up for a shootout to whoever wanted to take shots from either squad.  Some nifty moves were made, and most scored.  Pastor took the last shot, and I think no one decided they wanted to follow it, when she dribbled in and then lofted a shot over the GK and bounced it into the goal.

Soon enough, the teams both came together in Coach Sowry's tradition circle to talk over the competition.  This circle was less about critique of play and more about honoring the alumnae, both those there and who couldn't be there, for their role in building the program.  Both teams introduced themselves around the circle and everyone just generally enjoyed the time together.

We did get post game audio and video with Coach Sowry and alumnae Gianna Perrone and Stephanie Byrne.  The rains did start at the end of the Sowry post-game, so excuse the location shift for the talk with the alumnae.

Picnic? Yes, Picnic

After the Field Hockey festivities concluded, a leisurely walk down Floyd Street to SAC made for a just about a perfect arrival time for the first of what the Volleyball program intends to be an annual event, a season ticket holder picnic.

Paulie joined my mother and me for this one, while Jared went the other direction down Floyd to catch some of the Men's Soccer exhibition action against Evansville.  The Cards would end up winning that one 2-0.

Good BBQ was had, and a fair time for season ticket holders to mix and mingle and catch up with
each other after the off-season, and also get to chat with the players and the coaching staff.  Coach Busboom Kelly did address the crowd and drew some questions from slips that had been submitted earlier by the crowd, mostly delegating answering duties to various players and the coaching staff.  Among the questions asked: 

Q: Who's the best dancer on the team?
A: (by Claire Chaussee, I believe) Bri Lester, who then was asked to prove it, and did so with Aiko Jones' assistance.

Q: Who is the most improved on the team?
A: (by Associate Head Coach Dan Meske) Megan Sloan, but if you asked everyone on the team that, you would get lots of different answers.

Hear some of the attendees for the event here:

Volleyball Red and Black Scrimmage

As the team went off to prepare for their Red and Black Scrimmage, the crowd started to filter into Cardinal Arena (with some very real appreciation for the air conditioning after the muggy afternoon weather) and made their way to seats.  Most fans continue to arrive, until Cardinal Arena was maybe half full, a pretty good turnout for a pre-season volleyball intra-squad scrimmage.

In past years, players would frequently switch between the Red and White teams (yes, they were wearing red and white jerseys, even though the event is called the Red and Black Scrimmage), but there was none of that this year.  The white team was weighted with the bulk of the returning veterans and expected starters...though not all of them.  Despite the red team being heavily loaded with newcomers, they put up a real fight against the white squad, picking up one set out of the 4 set match.

(Photo by Jared Anderson - JDA Photography)
Particularly impressive was Claire Chaussee, a 5'11" freshman outside hitter from Sun Prairie,
Wisconsin.  She had 10 kills for the red team, matching veteran Amanda Green's 10 for the red, but also adding 11 digs for a double-double right out of the gate.  Chaussee impressed as an all-around player with a dynamite serve, a great swing, and, already as a freshman, a good head for the game.  Oh, and she also has some wheels, chasing down a shanked pass deep in the out of bounds area behind the court that I thought was unreachable.

Also shining on the red team was transfer Kelly O'Neil.  Classified as a sophomore and transferring back home from Arizona to Louisville where she played high school ball at Mercy Academy.  O'Neil is a 5'7" DS, and gathered 20 digs for the red team in the match.

On the white team side of the net, mostly veterans figured into the play.  Melanie McHenry, starting out her junior year, continued to be a dominant player, picking up a match high 13 kills.  She was followed by a newcomer to the team, Marijke van Dyke with 12, and Piper Roe picked up 10 in the middle along with 4 blocks.  Molly Sauer, unsurprisingly in the libero jersey for the white team, came away with 30 digs.

As for overall takeaways from this event, first you'll be amazed at just the sheer number of players on this team with a roster of 19, and as of right now, everyone seems generally healthy.  Aiko Jones had her swinging hand wrapped, and seemed to be flexing it like it was giving her some minor issues, but not enough to stop her from swinging away.  Consider that there are at most 12 players on scholarship, and consider what that means about how many players have decided that they want to play at Louisville and are willing to pay their own way to do so.

There is a lot of talent among the new faces on this team.  Claire Chaussee really stood out to me, with Aiko Jones showing amazing athletic ability that, with some refining, will result in an amazing player.  We've got DSes coming out of the woodwork, with Kelly O'Neil being perhaps the biggest addition.

Dan Meske pointed to Megan Sloan for most improved, but I'll nominate Akela Yuhl for the honor.

This is a difficult comparison as they play completely different roles on the team, with Sloan being solely a hitter, and Yuhl being solely defense, but Yuhl progressed from being the stereotypical walk-on player where the crowd was just excited to see her take the court last year, to this year being able to hold her own among a crowd of good DSes.  She's not a stand-out player, but the progression from last year to yesterday is impressive.  Most notably, she was composed and aware of everything going on out on the court, positioning herself well and just playing good volleyball.

The setter position is where we will be weakest, or at least won't have the depth of other positions.  Wilma Rivera is a great setter, and will serve us well in that role, but beyond that, it gets a little rough.  Our back-up setter is Anaya Martin, a 5'7" freshman out of Tyrone, GA.  She has talent and skills (she set for the red team), but she does need some time to mature and hone her abilities.  That will happen, but for now, if we lose Rivera for some reason, it's going to be a little bit of tough going.

All in all, I think this team will surprise on the upside.  There's not a whole lot of room to improve, qualitatively, within the ACC, being defending co-champions, so this team is looking to the NCAA tourney primarily for their goals this year.  The team wants to defend Card Arena again this year, with the goal of being undefeated at home, but they also look to hang some more black banners.  The motif that has been established is that conference banners are red and NCAA banners are black.  At present there are many red banners in Card arena, but only 4 black (representing Sweet 16 appearances, the most recent being 2005).  This team looks to add to that, and all indications are that they have a really good shot at it.

Action Friday in Cardinal Arena with a double-header in the Cardinal Classic. Tennessee-Martin at 12:30 p.m. and Southern Illinois at 7:30 p.m. Don't miss it!

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

A knucklehead-full house yesterday at the Magnificent Media Mansion on Mellwood. We had the entire "A" team on-board and they were on their "A" game.

The Cardinal Couple Radio Hour was a fun show with lots of recap and analysis by our soccer expert Case on the Cardinals season opening victory over Wright State.  We heard audio from Emina Ekic and Coach Karen Ferguson-Dayes.

You can check out the FaceBook Live replay at:



  1. What Jeff didn't mention is that at the picnic the players from last year's squad were given their ACC Championship rings. It was nice to be able to share that event with the players and to get a good look at them up close. Told several players that we look forward to them having another ring after this season to put on another finger.

  2. A great but very long day, with two events, two radio shows, prep for those, interviews and a picnic as well. I hit the pillow early last night and was asleep in no time.

    One of those great days!


  3. Wow. Great job on the interviews guys! Love to see the interchange and the joy in them.

    Going to be a great fall for women's sports at UofL!

    Curtis "Fall isn't just for leaves" Franklin

  4. Saw your site and decided to stop by for a visit. I'm a Michigan fan and follow the Field Hockey team pretty closely, being an alumnae of the squad. I was at the exhibition today in Columbus, OH and came away very impressed with your Field Hockey team. Your defense is quite good!

    This is a good site and I like that you give plenty of your articles to Louisville's women sports program and how they do. Keep up the good work, I'll be checking in from time-to-time.

    - WolverineWLaxGal

  5. Welcome WolverineWLaxGal. The more the merrier.

  6. Echoing Charlie's words. Thank for stopping in and don't be a stranger!



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