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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Volleyball Finishes -- WBB and the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour -- Sunday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball Finishes

We, here at Cardinal Couple are well acquainted with juggling multiple major stories in UofL women's sports, and today is no exception.

We start with the a recap of the end of the season for Volleyball.  Normally, it's a disappointing affair when a team suffers a post-season defeat and the end of their competition for the year.  For volleyball this year...well, yeah, there is a twinge of disappointment, but there is also joy.  Joy that this team, even after losing the best player on the squad to an ACL tear, was able to do what no team has done in UofL Volleyball history, advance to the Elite Eight round of the NCAA with two upsets that got the volleyball talking heads across the nation talking about the Upset Queens of Louisville (a metaphor that I far prefer over the overused and problematic "Cinderella").

There is also excitement.

Excitement?  Yes, because the team you saw on the floor of Gregory Gym in Austin upending the number 2 seed in the tournament has a very good chance of being the exact same starting lineup you see in August of 2020.  What changes might occur?  Well, we might have some incoming freshmen competing for positions on the court over the players that occupied those spots for the past several weeks.

Think about that for a minute.  Beyond just seeing the current players get even better, the biggest chance of a change is because we may have some incoming players that are even better.

To be sure, we'll miss Melanie McHenry.  This team would not have done what it did without her.

There are no qualifications to that statement, and if anything it understates her importance to what happened here.  The biggest disappointment of the season may have been not getting to see her finish out her final NCAA tournament on the floor, but it wasn't to be, and as unfortunate as that is, it positioned this team to have the potential for even better things next year.

Spring play for volleyball can largely be about, "OK, what do we do without our seniors that are graduating" least partly figuring that out.  Louisville Volleyball has already done that, so spring play will get to be a much more pure opportunity to just practice and get better.

"Don't worry Dani...I'll go get a win
in Lexington to take their minds off
Saturday !" 
The future is exciting, here.

OK, to the actual match last night.  Minnesota was a beast, they clicked.  Louisville never got it's blocking game going well, and credit Minn for quick offensive play and good passing that kept Louisville's block guessing.  Similarly, passing and serve receive just wasn't there for the Cards in this one.

I said, during the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday, that the Cards have the talent to play toe to toe with any team in the country.  I stand by that statement.  The talent is absolutely there, it's just a matter of bringing it to bear when the challenge is presented.  The Cards were a little bit off last night, and Minnesota will be planning their travel to Pittsburgh for the Final Four.  Well played, Minnesota, and good luck.


The other big story line today, and it's a big one in it's own right, is the UofL vs UK basketball game at Rupp Arena at 1pm.

Kentucky comes in to this game undefeated (10-0), and that's impressive, no doubt, but when you look at their schedule to this point...well, maybe that undefeated record isn't quite so shiny.  The best competition they have played to this point is...probably Virginia, who they squeaked past, 50-47.  Beyond that, they've beaten a bunch of mostly mediocre mid-majors.

The game today will be UK's first really big test of their season, but it won't be their last.  They are, of course, in the same conference with South Carolina (never underestimate Dawn Staley), Florida, Tennessee, and Mississippi State, but those are in the future, and here in the present, well, it's a little difficult to tell how good of a team UK really is.

Let's get this out there, though.  We do know that 6'2" guard Rhyne Howard is good.  Again, no qualifications are needed, here.  She is a very fine player.  She leads the team in many statistical categories, only dropping out of the top spot for Offensive Rebounds (but leads in total boards), along with assists and steals.  In points scored this season, she's not all that far away from doubling the tally of the 2nd place scorer Sabrina Haines, and accounts for over a quarter of the points scored by the team for the whole season.

"Paulie, I think I'd like to go dancing in Lexington Sunday..." 
How will the Cards continue their win streak over UK?  Well, the answer is pretty obvious after the previous 'graph.  Stop, or at least significantly slow down, Howard and force UK to figure out another way to win if they can.  Of course, that's a tall task, but the Cards did it with Sabrina Ionescu, and they can do it with Howard.  The question is, which UofL team will show up?  The team that played Oregon?  Or the team that played Ohio State (and the first half of NKU)?

Game time is at 1pm at Rupp Arena, and is televised on ESPN...not the deuce, not the U, not on a streaming platform.  This one is getting the top dog treatment by the 4 letter network.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

I may be biased, but I think the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour yesterday may have been one of our
best.  Paulie, Case, and I were in studio recapping the Cards magical run in the volleyball tournament, and previewing today's UK game.

Check out the replay at Facebook Live:


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