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Sunday, November 15, 2020

Sunday Cardinal Couple - Swim and Volley

Swimming News

Several current and former Cardinal swimmers were in action this weekend in the Toyota US Open Swimming Championship including Mallory Comerford, Gabi Albiero, and Morgen Friesen.

This is an odd event this year, as it was changed, as have some many sports events this year, to accommodate Covid-19.  In this case, the event was altered to be a multi-location event, with swimmers competing in nine different sites around the country and the ultimate results being aggregated across all sites based on times.

This means that, while Comerford touched the wall first in her location with a 55.21 in the 100M Freestyle, ultimately she ended up in 4th place in the competition behind a 54.04 finish by Victoria Huske that was swam, I believe, in Richmond, VA.

Several other Cardinals had good finishes in that race.  Casey Fanz touched the wall 2nd in Indiana, for a 10th overall, Christiana Regenauer and Gabi Albiero touch 6th and 7th, for final standings of 26th and 27th.

In other races, Alena Kraus touched 2nd in the 200M Butterfly for a 8th overall, followed by Tristen Ulett 4th for an overall 14th, and Albiero 6th for an overall 23rd.  Morgan Friesen touched 6th in the 200M Breaststroke for 26th overall.

Volleyball Signing Class

Jared did a great job Thursday of covering all the signing information that we know of across the sports that we broadly cover.  Of course, it's not just one day of signings, and not all of the programs released all of the information on their signings right away, so some information is still trickling in.

I did want to take a moment to break down the volleyball class a bit and how they fit into the team growth going forward.

A lot of attention in this class is going to Sydni Schetnan, of course, as she officially signed with Basketball with the expectation that she will be playing both Basketball and Volleyball during her tenure at UofL.  The initial information is that she will not be playing volleyball her first season, taking a red shirt in the sport, but will be participating in basketball.

In volleyball, Schetnan is a 6'5" outside hitter, joining a roster full of hard hitting pins.  There are no senior outside hitters listed on the roster this year, so likely the whole set will be back for next year, meaning that red shirt might be wise.  So two years from now, the pin hitter roster, assuming no shakeups, would be Aiko Jones, Nena Mbonu, Brooke Smith, Anna DeBeer, and Sydni Schetnan.  With two years of practice and development, and at 6'5" with big power, I think there's a very good chance Schetnan will see a lot of time on the court getting to show her stuff as a red-shirt freshman.

The other 6'5"er coming in is Cara Crese, a Middle Blocker out of Fort Wayne, IN.  Another position where the Cards are a bit overloaded.  Piper Roe is a red-shirt senior who has not seen much court time recently.  She has another year of eligibility granted by the NCAA because of Covid-19, but will she take advantage of it?  I have no word, but I wouldn't be shocked if she decided to go ahead and move on.  Anna Stevenson is seeing regular play time, is also a senior, but similarly has another year of eligibility because of Covid-19.  I would expect to see her back in the middle.  The other starter is Amaya Tillman who will be a junior, and then add in Emily Scott in her final year, and Phekran Kong in her sophomore year looking to break into the line-up, and you have a massive multi-way position battle shaping up in the center.  6'5" height gives Crese a big leg up, but as a relatively newcomer to the sport of Volleyball, only starting in club play a few years ago, don't expect her to crack into the starting line-up right away.

Next up is Paige Morningstar, a 6' setter out of Pittsburgh.  Again, because of Covid-19, Tori Dilfer has another year of eligibility, so expect her to be our starting setter next year, but then things open up for Morningstar.  Next in line on the current roster is Rachel DeMarcus, who showed that she can certainly perform quite well in the position at Boston College this fall, but at 5'7", her height will hamper her overall effectiveness.  Morningstar will be a tall setter, which is an advantage for the portions of the rotation in the front row, for sure.  So don't expect to see much of her on the court in the fall of '21, but after that, get used to hearing the name.

Lastly, Elena Scott joins from Mercy Academy here in town.  A refreshing break from the parade of Assumption rockets matriculating into the UofL program, Scott will be coming into a fully stocked, but not overstocket Libero/Defensive Specialist squad.  At 5'9", Scott will be on the tall end of the spectrum for DSes, matching Ceci Rush's height, and coming into a role that has a small chance for another position battle.

Presumably, Alexis Hamilton will be returning in her Covid-19 extra season wearing the Libero jersey.  This past year, you saw the DS role split between Ayden Barlett, Alexa Hendricks, and Mia Stander.  The extra challenge here has been the riches of full rotation hitters that UofL has had in the past few years cutting down on the presence of DSes in the line-up.  Ceci Rush was mostly used as a serving specialist, and surely would like to expand her role as well.  So, again in this case, I wouldn't hold your breath to see Scott on the court frequently her first year.  After that, Hamilton will graduate, I would expect Alexa Hendricks to inherit the Libero jersey, and then look for Scott to try to make her case for some more playing time.  The DS position was full of question marks this fall, perhaps spring play will answer some of those questions and add some more defined contours to the DS scene within the squad.

Overall, UofL is getting several great athletes and volleyball talents.  Obviously any dual-sport athlete shows that they are just solid all-around athletes like Sydni Schetnan does.  Morningstar was also a dual-sport athlete in high school, and quad-sport earlier in her school days, but is expecting to leave basketball behind when she matriculate to UofL (the other two were soccer and softball).  If by some outside chance, Jeff Walz finds himself in a crunch in the 3 or 4 spot, maybe he comes calling to Morningstar, but the likelihood of that is very slim, of course.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour

The whole gang was online yesterday again for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast.  Check out the fun below.  Basketball is entering the discussion hot and heavy, along with wrap-ups of the Field Hockey and Soccer seasons, and of course, some discussions of the incoming signing classes across multiple sports.


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