Thursday, October 17, 2019
VB Survives in Five, WBB #1 in ACC, Field Hockey Players Honored -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
VOLLEYBALL RALLIES TO DOWN DOMERS
I suppose this is what you should expect when the Irish and Cardinals get together in Volleyball. A five-set match. One team looking out-of-sync and lost early and then roaring back to take control. Toss in an injury, a key contribution off the bench and Katie George and you have a brief synopsis of what happened in South Bend last night. Both games in 2017 and in 2018 went five sets. It has become the new "expected" when these two get together. A hard-fought, come-from behind and entertaining Cardinal "W"...22-25, 22-25, 25-17, 25-22 and 15-10.
Both teams came into the match with equal 13-3 and 6-0 in the ACC records. The Cards edging their way into the top 25 and Notre Dame getting votes but not quite there yet. It was Notre Dame, though, who looked like the top 25 squad in the first two sets. Just when it looked like things couldn't get any worse for UofL in the second set when Melanie McHenry...who is "Ms. Everything" for the Cardinals...came down wrong on her left knee at the conclusion of a play and crumpled to the floor in a great deal of pain. Her scream audible on TV. A silent arena. Laying prone and curled up on the court for quite some time while being examined. She was carried off by the UofL staff. What next, you ask?
What happened after that was nothing short of remarkable. Smiling, encouraging her teammates as she was removed from the floor, McHenry was believing in her team to finish the task. UofL got a new light in their eyes, a reason-to-rally and, although the set was lost -- you could tell that the Cards were going to halftime with renewed fire and focus.
"Play well for Mel" is as good as any description for what happened after the break.
We won't go into a lot of detail on those first two sets. The Cards trailed early in the first, did rally back to get within one at 22-21 but the Irish "hit squad" of freshman Caroline Meuth and sophomore Charley Niego rallied the Irish to the win. 25-22 Leprechaun lovers.
Second set brought more of the same for the lackluster Cards. Playing from behind most of the way, once again, Louisville rallied to get with that "same one" again at 22-21. Once again, the Irish controlled the end of the set, allowing just one Cardinal point and it was 25-22 again...."Touchdown Jesus" had his arms up outside on campus for a reason.
The adjustments UofL made at the half were superb. Shannon Shields took over at setter. Louisville went with a back line of Aiko Jones, Claire Chaussee and Amaya Tillman. And, the Cards responded like Secretariat rolling down the stretch with the finish line in sight.
Bursting out to a 12-4 lead in set three, they forced the UND time out. Ineffective. Louisville pushed that advantage to 21-8 and were looking like the Louisville Volleyball we've come to know and love. Amber Stivrins, Anna Stevenson and Aiko Jones...the "A-Team" was on the job and the Irish were reeling. Notre Dame, to their credit, made a late run to cut the Cardinal advantage to 23-17 but it ended two plays later an a 25-17 win was in the UofL ledger.
In set four, we saw more Cardinal authority. A 12-4 start. Amber and Aiko were still hot and UofL led 22-16 before the Irish held on at set point twice before the Cards were able to close it on a Jones spike. 25-22 the final and bonus ball awaited.
A 4-0 early run gave the Cards a 8-4 lead in the fifth. They pushed that to 11-7 and forced a Irish time out, which seemed to temporarily help the beleaguered, baffled and bushed UND squad. They cut the margin to two at 12-10. Then, a couple of UND errors and a Amaya kill ended it. 15-10. Cards take game, set and match.
Louisville showed a ton of fight, spirit and "never-say-die" attitude last night. McHenry had returned to the sidelines to sit behind the bench, with her knee heavily wrapped, to cheer on her "sisters-in-slams". No official statement yet on her status, just a "knee injury" is all we know. Sure looked like an ACL, though, after watching the replays.
On a lighter note...Katie George, Cardinal great from a few years back and former beauty queen, did the analysis work on the ACC Network broadcast last night. A stellar performance from her as well, combining solid technical knowledge and explanations of the action. George hardly masking her love for the Cards and tossing her quirky and funny descriptions and sayings out like the way she used to set up players on the court.
She had that poor boy doing the broadcast with her baffled and dazed. We think she should be on the "A" team for ACC Network Volleyball broadcast coverage.
Good to have ya back, K.G. !! Keep 'em coming.
WBB #1 in ACC Preseason Polls
Louisville women's basketball squad has been selected to finish first in the ACC in preseason polls from the conference's coaches and the ACC Blue Ribbon Panel.
The Cards gathered 13 of the 15 first place votes from the coaches (NC St. receiving two) and 34 of the 49 first place votes from the Blue Ribbon Panel. The Wolfpack garnered eight first place votes in "the B.R.P" version and Florida State plus Notre Dame also received first place votes.
Once again, Cardinal Couple was not contacted to participate in the Blue Ribbon Panel, most likely because we prefer Yuenging, Budweiser and other select, crafted beverages.
Louisville also landed two players on the Preseason All-ACC team with junior Dana Evans and sophomore Elizabeth Balogun. Miami's Elizabeth Balogun was selected preseason player-of-the-year. Freshman guard Nyah Green was named to the Newcomers Watch List for the 2019-20 season.
No surprises in any of this, except for the exclusion of Jazmine Jones on the ACC team. That's a mistake that'll come back to haunt more than a few pundits and teams this season.
Let's face it, Walz's squad is loaded for bear, equipped with plenty of ammunition and could probably enter two teams in ACC play this year and finish first and second in the conference.
19 days until UofL starts the season against WKU in the KFC YUM! Center.
FIELD HOCKEY'S AYARS, RUSS HONORED
Louisville Field Hockey seniors Carter Ayars and Bethany Russ have been named to the Victory Sports Tours/National Field Hockey Coaches Association's Senior Game.
38 seniors will participate in the contest, which is planned for November 22 following the conclusion of the NCAA DI semifinal game at Wake Forest.
Ayars has been brilliant as a defender and penalty corner specialist for Louisville this season and her whole career at Louisville. She gathered ACC Player of the Week, NFHCA All-West Region team selection and USA Field Hockey Under 21 team honors during her time as a CARDINAL.
Russ, an attack specialist, leads UofL with nine goals this season. She's also been a NFHCA All-West Region selection and All-ACC pick during her time under head coach Justine Sowry. She also leads the ACC with shot attempts (70).
# 5 ranked UofL (11-2) wraps up their current home stand with Longwood on Saturday at noon (unfortunate time selection on that one) and #6 Iowa Sunday at 1 p.m.
Have a terrific Thursday !