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Sunday, September 15, 2019

Volleyball Sweeps in Nashville -- SUNDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Paint The Town Red

There was a lot of red in Nashville, yesterday.  Three UofL squads were in action in country music capital with Cross-Country getting things underway in the morning, and Volleyball and Football taking over the late afternoon and evening time.  Add in the WKU crowd for the Football game, and's just a lot of red, and a very busy I-65.

Paulie and Jared were part of that morning caravan on what turned out to be a successful but very humid day for football. 


The women's XC team finished the meet, hosted by Vanderbilt, in 11th, with 3 runners finishing in
the top 30.  The good results were accomplished without the women's team star, Dorcas Wasike participating.  The last report we had from Wasike was that she was recovering from an injury, but that was in the spring.  It could be that recovery is ongoing, as head Cross Country coach Dale Cowper indicated might happen at the Louisville Fall Sports preview. 

Louisville's top finisher was Ivine Chemutai, finishing in 9th.  The other two top 30 finishers for the Cards were Bailey Beery, who certainly gets Cardinal Couple points just because of her last name, and Kassidy Manning, with 28th and 30th place finishes respectively.


Your intrepid reporter tried to make a quick exit from the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour to head south to catch the volleyball match between Louisville and Xavier at Lipscomb University in their very purple gym.  Alas, traffic and other delays meant that we arrived just as the first set was ending.

The Cards would go on to win this one in a sweep (25-18, 25-11, 25-16) meaning that the drive to Nashville and back resulted in me getting to watch just under an hour of volleyball.  Ah well, it was a fun road-trip nonetheless.

No box score seems to be available for this one at all, so no in-depth stat dive for this one beyond what our fine Volleyball SID included in the recap.  Aiko Jones, Anna Stevenson, and Tori Dilfer come in for particular praise with Aiko putting down 9 kills, and putting up 4 blocks.  Stevenson put down 7 kills, and tallied 3 blocks in the middle.

We saw limited playing time for sophomore Emily Scott in the middle in the ongoing position battle/player rotation for middle hitters/blocks, with juniors Stevenson and Piper Roe getting the bulk of the time on the court yesterday.

Claire Chausee didn't get on the floor while I was there (whether she played any in the first set, I don't know), which is a bit of a change in the overall lineup.  Chausee seems to be struggling a little bit with her confidence and ball control, so let's hope a bit of a mental reset can get her back on track, her explosive power will be wonderful if she can get it reined in.

In her place, we saw freshman Amber Stivrens.  Though less explosive, Stivrins displays excellent control, both in attacking and passing from the back row.  Kudos to the Xavier fans sitting near me, as they demonstrated their awareness of the overall volleyball scene by recognizing the name Stivrins and making the connection with Amber's older sister Lauren, who is a middle hitter at Nebraska.  The Xavier fans were gracious and pleasant to chat with despite the proceedings on the floor.

As for the overall match, well, this just wasn't that competitive.  The Cards were clicking, and just outgunned the Musketeers.  Xavier put up a valiant effort, but they just aren't at the same level of play that Louisville is.

A Note about the Purdue Match

During the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday, Case and I were discussing the Purdue match on Friday, and we lamented the lack of a streaming option to be able to watch the game.  We talked a bit about the limits of insights you can get from a stat sheet about style of play, game plan, and game plan execution.  You can, however sometimes get hints about what happened, and I speculated a bit about what might have happened in the match.

I started with Case's observation of how much of the attacking attempts were from pin hitters like Melanie McHenry, Claire Chaussee, and Aiko Jones and also from Purdue significantly outblocking Louisville.

From those starting points, I questioned whether, perhaps, Louisville just didn't pass well in the match, but how do you get from A -> B?  Well bad passing, the setter (setters, plural, in our case) are struggling to get to the ball when it's not passed to the right place.  This constrains the offensive options for the setter.  You're not going to try to set a middle when the setter is having to sprint cross-court to get to the ball at all.  Consequently more of the attacks are going to go to the pin hitters, which explains why they got so many of the kill attempts, compared to the middles.

That constraint on the setter also means that the opponent, Purdue in this case, can largely ignore the middle hitter when they see a bad pass and just go ahead and start setting up their blocks for the pin hitters.

When the ball gets to the pin hitters, the block is sitting there ready with 2 blockers already in position.  Combine that with what may not be the cleanest swing on the ball because, remember the setter was struggling to get to the ball, so they probably haven't gotten the cleanest set, and you have a recipe for hitting right into a well set up block, or trying to avoid it and hitting out of bounds.  About the best outcome is a roll or tip shot just to keep the play going and attempt to have a better offensive set in the next return.

Wait for it, just three days away...
I did get a chance to chat with a few folks that were at the Purdue match that are pretty knowledgeable about the game, and it sounds like my speculation managed to be right on the money in this case.  The reports that I heard from multiple people pointed to generally poor passing in the Purdue match, and lots of "outlet" sets to pin hitters because of a lack of other real options.

I tend to harp on teams that are passing poorly, and hype liberos and defensive specialists when they pass particularly well in touch situations, as I think they're some of the most underappreciated players on teams, and this is why.  Passing well is the start of a good offensive set, and if you don't pass well, you just aren't going to end up having much success as a team.

On the Field Today

Field Hockey takes the field in Columbus, OH against Ohio State at 1 p.m..  If you happen to have a Big Ten Plus subscription, you can watch this one there.

Soccer continues their home stand at Lynn Stadium against Vanderbilt at 6 p.m..  If you can't make it out for that, it is available on ACC Network Extra streaming. It is vuvuzela giveaway night, so get there early, a limited supply exists. 

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

Case and I held down the fort at WCHQ yesterday as Paulie, and Jared were Nashville bound, while we speculated that Daryl may have been recovering from the Back Street Boys appearance Friday night.

We had a good hour of discussion.  We started with a rant about a field hockey controversy that was set off last week at Kent State.  Then we dove into the Louisville sports with discussions of Golf, Soccer, Field Hockey, and Volleyball.  Check it on Facebook Live:


  1. you guys really needed some help on the radio show saturday.

    1. I just watched the rebroadcast and thought the boys did an admirable job between the two of them.

      It's tough to do a broadcast with just two, I know. In the early days, sometimes I did the show by myself...with just a station engineer in another room.

      And, we'll probably have a few more "duo" shows this year, so, the way I see got two choices. Get used to it or watch something else.


    2. I see the earlier complaint came in as anonymous. Maybe a UK fan!

    3. Maybe next time the radio show is down to two people, Anonymous would volunteer to come in and help out. No pay, no benefits but giving an hour or more of time which doesn't count the time spent at events, talking to players, coaches and fans or looking up statistics.


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