Niele Ivey's Notre Dame squad comes calling today at 2pm at the KFC Yum! Center.
Notre Dame continues to be a mid-pack team in this first season of the Ivey era at 8-7, 6-5, though they are on course for a slightly better season than the last go around with Muffet McGraw. It's a rebuilding year...or two...or maybe more...as they say.
The Irish are on a two game losing streak, having dropped the last two on the road against North Carolina and Syracuse. They are in a pretty intense stretch of schedule right now, with those two loses, facing Louisville today, and then NC State, and a rematch with Syracuse are next up, so that could very easily become a five game losing streak before it's over.
On the Notre Dame side, you will hear plenty about Maddy Westbeld, and with good reason. She's a true freshman, 6'3" forward, and she is deserving of all the praise coming her way. A 46% shooter, 38% beyond the arc, and a respectable 75% from the charity stripe. She leads the team in scoring, and takes the second spot in steals, blocks, and assists. She is a true freshman, however, and that does occasionally shine through, and thus leads the team, but a fairly considerable margin, in turnovers.
Notre Dame basketball wouldn't be Notre Dame basketball without a Mabrey, so they have added, as a transfer from Virginia Tech, Dara Mabrey, younger sister of Michaela (graduated 2016), and Marina (graduated 2019). She's a 5'7" guard who shoots 45%, with essentially no drop off beyond the arc.
The rest of the typical starting line-up are Destinee Walker (5'10" G), Anaya Peoples (5'10" G), and Sam Brunelle (6'2" F).
The Cards will be looking to really have a complete game, something we haven't seen from this team in a little while, with some significant challenges seen in each of the past several games. The team has battled through and mostly succeeded (NC State game notwithstanding) despite some pretty significant shortcomings in some aspect of the game. This would be a good one to get it all put back together again for a final push towards the post season.
Elizabeth Balogun is expected to be back with the team after a training session with the Nigerian National Team. We have no word on Olivia Cochran's return to play after a minor injury suffered in practice resulted in her sitting out the last game against Boston College. Words from Jeff Walz to the effect of "we had no need to play her" against Boston College suggest that it really was a minor tweak and they held her out as a precaution and to allow extra healing in a game that really wasn't in much doubt in any case.
The Cards and the Irish get top treatment from the four letter network for this one, appearing on the flagship ESPN channel with one of my fave play-by-play announcers, Beth Mowins, on the call. Debbie Antonelli will be the analyst. Nick Curran and A.J, as always on the radio call on 790AM.
The tennis squad took their first loss of the season, a close one against Iowa State. Officially recorded as a 4-3 win for the Cyclones.
The Cards won the doubles point on a squeaker of a win by Nikolina Jovic and Dina Chaika, winning the set 7-6, with Raven Neely and Tatiana Simova easily winning their doubles matchup, 6-1.
I put a little bit of a caveat on the overall score because of an odd reporting point in one of the singles matches, listed with set scores of 6-6, 3-2, with neither of those two set scores really making sense to my understanding. Iowa State did win four of the other five singles matchups though, so they did, for sure, win the overall matchup with at least four points, regardless of those oddball set scores.
UofL will look for the bounce back today starting at 11am against Wichita State. Both yesterday's match, and today's are in Wichita.
Volleyball played a good exhibition play in warm-up for this unprecedented official spring season, hosting a good Dayton team.
UofL takes the win in this one 3-1, and thankfully, as this is not the typical case for exhibition matches, they did publish a stats sheet. No video for this one, and I wasn't able to be in attendance, but I did follow the stat tracker play by play during the match.
16 of the 18 players on the roster for the Cards saw at least some playing time, only Rachel DeMarcus and Aiko Jones not getting on the court. No word on why one of the core players of the Cards late 2019 season, and 2020 fall season, in Jones, didn't see any playing time.
This was an exhibition, however, so it's a chance to play around with lineups, get some players some playing time that don't so much.
Neither team hit well overall, .262 for the Cards, .123 for the Flyers, though UofL did have a pretty good 1st and 4th set, .385 and .382 respectively. The 2nd set was passable for the Cards at .290, which of course means the 3rd set was...not great with a whopping .000, goose egg on the hitting percentage.
The A-team, Amaya Tillman, and the Anna's - Stevenson and DeBeer, led the team in hitting and hitting percentages, DeBeer with most kills, 14, and Stevenson and Tillman in percentages, 1.000 and .500.
Nena Mbonu got the start in place of Jones, and got eight kills on .286 hitting. Clair Chaussee continues to be a high risk/high reward contributor, also collecting eight kills, but also committing four errors, for a .190 percentage.
Tori Dilfer took most of the setting duties as is expected, with 34 assists, though we did see Jamie Vasilou, who started her involvement with the team as a manager and earned her way onto the roster did spend a little bit of time in the setting role.
In blocking, Tillman took the top spot with a solo and three shared, Anna Stevenson only played two sets, with Emily Scott getting the start in the middle position the other two sets, but the 2nd place in blocking goes to true freshman pin hitter Brooke Smith who got in on a part of three blocks Smith also started the 3rd set in place of Chaussee. Nena Mbonu had a hand in a pair of blocks as well.
Again, this is exhibition play, so don't read too much into these line ups and play. The team hasn't been back in the gym for team practice for very long, yet, and there are still, barring any schedule changes, two weeks before the first sprint match that will go in the records. That one will be at Lipscomb, in Nashville.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
We had a late scratch for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour, with Daryl sending in a late night notification that she wouldn't be available. She assures us that all is good, so no worry is needed.
Last week was all basketball, this week had a bit more variety, though it was still basketball heavy. We did talk a bit about Volleyball, and a bit of preview for Lacrosse.
A fun show as always, check it out.