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Saturday, September 22, 2018

Volleyball Wins ACC Opener; Field Hockey Stumbles on Road -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Volleyball Takes Down NC State in Raleigh

Last season, the only match I managed to make it to for volleyball was when NC State came to town. It was a huge ACC matchup in Cardinal Arena late in the season. Last night's match against the Wolfpack was not quite as high profile as 2017's version, but it was still an important match, acting as both teams' ACC opener. It was made even more important for Louisville because of their less than stellar performance last weekend and their uninspiring performances on the road thus far this season. 

The Cards put both of those demons behind them for the time being as they beat NC State 3-1 in a fairly close match. Louisville won 25-19, 28-26, 20-25, and 25-18. Barring the slip-up in the third, Louisville very nearly took down the Pack in straight sets, which would have been an even bigger confidence boost. Unfortunately, you don't have to look very far to locate the source of the third set struggle, as the Cards hit only .087 in the third. Overall, it was a much better match than last week, as Louisville finished with a .227 over four sets. It's not a world beating hitting percentage, but it was serviceable, and will win you matches if your opponent hits only .160.

A big improvement over last weekend came for Melanie McHenry, who was very much not herself against the Cats and Mocs. Kentucky had her locked down while she was just missing spots badly against Chattanooga. McHenry finished with 8 errors, still, but also killed 17 points and contributed to 4 total blocks. McHenry has shown that she can be the offensive leader of the team and Coach Dani Busboom Kelly has shown that she wants McHenry to do so. Now we just need to see a bit more consistency from the sophomore for her to become a feared hitter across the land. 

McHenry was joined in double digit kills by Amanda Green (13), Jasmine Bennett (12), and Megan Sloan (10). Wilma Rivera was very much in system, assisting on 53 of 60 kills and being forced into only 8 digs. Molly Sauer was stalwart on defense, picking up 26 digs and adding 4 assists. Nobody on the team was particularly useful on the serve, as the Cards finished with 11 service errors and only 3 aces. Serving has been a strength of this team early in the season, so we'll consider last night an exception rather than the rule. 

After a big win to begin the conference season, Louisville will stay in the Tarheel State for their next match, taking on North Carolina tomorrow at 1PM. The Cards started off the ACC last season with a huge winning streak. Let's see if they can duplicate such success this season. They're off to the right kind of start.

Corners Doom Field Hockey at Wake Forest

The Cards dropped their second ACC game of the season yesterday in Winston Salem as a 7-2 penalty corner disadvantage led to a 4-2 loss at the hands Wake Forest. It was Wake's (1-1) first ACC win of the season and the Demon Deacons were unranked going into the game. Louisville is sure to fall from their number 7 position after the loss but there is a long season remaining. The Cards will look to get back on track tomorrow against Appalachian State before returning to ACC play against Virginia next Saturday.

To open the scoring, it was Bethany Russ capitalizing on a penalty corner rebound. It was the first of two Louisville scores and the first of two times they would take the lead. The second came in the second half when Whena Munn broke the 1-1 tie off of a goal during the run of play. Louisville played well in the open field, and defended the run of play solidly. Unfortunately, Wake earned corner after corner, finishing with 7 corners that led to 15 shots (9 on goal). Ayeisha McFerran picked up 5 saves but all four goals for the Deacs came as a result of a penalty corner conversion. Louisville finished the game with only 4 shots, both on goal shots finding the back of the cage.

Penalty corner conversion, both offensive and defensive, is often an indicator of game results. Louisville completed 50% of their chances. Wake completed only 57%. However, the difference also comes in volume. 1/2 is usually going to fall to 4/7. Without having watched the game, I can't speak to exactly what was happening for the Cards to be hit so hard and give up so many corners, but I know that if you're giving up so many attempts on goal, you're usually going to have a bad time, even with the best goalie in the world. 

There isn't much else to say on this one. Coach Sowry will surely have the team poring over film on the off-day as they seek to determine what went wrong. The Cards have had some good wins, but again, their inability to create consistent offense (still no more than 2 goals in a single game) has come back to bite them. I don't know what the answer is, but I'm sure that everyone related to the team is trying their best to figure it out as well.

Wrap-Up Thoughts on WSoc vs Notre Dame

After nearly turning my iPhone into a brick while attempting to update yesterday, I was waiting patiently for my computer to update so I could finish fixing everything. While not being able to do anything, I decided to check in on Cardinal Couple and saw someone request my thoughts on Thursday's game in the comments. I had a nice big comment written up when my computer decided that it didn't need to ask me if I wanted to restart to finish the updates; it just went for it. Anyway, let's get into what I saw Thursday night against the Irish.

Straight out of the gate, Louisville did not look fully prepared to play. The Cards were sluggish and almost refused to run to the ball. Numerous times, players were jogging while within striking distance of a Notre Dame pass. There was simply no urgency from Louisville. In addition to the lackadaisical ball hunting, the Cardinals were also getting out-physicaled left and right by the Irish. I could probably count on one hand the number of fifty-fifty balls Louisville came away with in the first half. If not for some spectacular defensive play by the back line and a save by Gabby Kouzelos, Louisville could have been in major trouble in the first half. For most of that time, I considered it only a matter of time before the Irish broke through. They looked like the better team for much of the night.

During the second half, Notre Dame's pressure intensified. They put five shots on goal in the second half, forcing Kouzelos into four second half saves. The potential first goal of the game was saved off of the line by a Louisville defender after bouncing dangerously past Kouzelos. Still, Louisville lacked hustle and creativity. Every ball won by the defense was slammed forward with no intent. The area talent scouts seated behind me had the same thoughts saying, "They've got no ideas." It was true. I was busy mentally lamenting Louisville's passing rate (it was extremely low) when the sequence that led to the first goal began. Louisville was able to make crisp passes into space, avoid defenders, and get forward dangerously before Brooklynn Rivers headed home what was ultimately the winner. It was a similar sequence later in the game when Maisie Whitsett regained the team points lead with her goal. 

Louisville is a better team when they pass well. They have some straight line speed, but they were not physical enough against Notre Dame to commit to the long ball style of play. I would much prefer to see them continue to create thoughtful attacking chances rather than just hitting the ball upfield and hoping for the best. Additionally, the time for slowly growing into a game has passed. Poor starts like the one Thursday night will haunt against better finishing teams or on a night that the defense is not up to their very best as they were Thursday. I'm not sure what was going on, but let's hope it was isolated. 

I won't be able to make it to Sunday's game against the Orange, but this season's results show that Syracuse is not the threat that Notre Dame was. That said, Louisville cannot come out slow and play down to their opponent. I'll depend on Paulie and Jared to relay the "perkiness" of the team and how they look compared to Thursday night. Louisville finished last season with only 11 points in the conference standings, and they've already got 6 through their first two games. A win against Syracuse would be huge for this team's standing in the conference and the nation and for their confidence, as well. Let's see what they figured out in film review and training between the two games.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Jared and I are both MIA from the studio this morning, but that doesn't mean you won't be treated to
a (nearly) full house with a great show. Daryl Foust sits in with Paulie and Jeff, and she's got more than enough talent to replace the two of us. The Crew will talk the three major fall sports that were in action of the last couple of days and do what they do best in bringing the Joy and Excitement of Louisville Women's Sports. Tune into WCHQ FM at 11 AM for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour via 100.9FM,, the WCHQ app, and on Facebook Live. 

Until next time, Go Cards!


  1. Ugh. Glad I like women's sports at UofL. That was one ugly Cardinal football game. Those guys showed no energy or desire. They need to spend a little time around women's soccer and discover what heart and pride is. JMO, of course. Watched the game with a few friends and I was "outta there" early in fourth quarter.

    Curtis "Fire Bobby Petrino" Franklin

  2. I thought our defense looked "OK" early against the Wahoos...but they fell apart at the end also. Sad.

    Great show on radio today, though and thanks to Daryl for coming in and showing off her Maroon 5 talent!

    Gotta agree Curtis. I went to a place I go for away games. Left in 4th quarter. This team needs a heat, much like the scarecrow in the Wizard Of Oz. Maybe even a brain and courage, if we're going to carry out the "Oz" character scenario. Why do you make a "fair catch" at the 1 yard line on a kickoff? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

    Those football fellas could learn a lot from either soccer team on campus. Those kids got courage, heart and brains.

    Not ready to throw Bobby under the bus yet...but he's got some problems on board. Time to start bailing water, that ship is sinkin,


    1. You're allowed to fair catch inside the 25 and take it to the 25. Kneeling inside the 25 just gives you the ball where you downed it. Very big mental mistake, which is another symptom of coaching.


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