We report on the joy and excitement of UofL women's sports here. Thanks for checking us out! Click the picture of Louie to hear the latest Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

A Look at Conference Standings -- WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Surprise, it's Case today. Due to some wonkiness in the upcoming schedule, I've got today's write, and Paulie will take my typical Saturday. Next week you'll see Jeff on Saturday and me on Sunday. What a fun adventure it is to try and keep up with the column schedules here at Cardinal Couple.

In any case (no pun intended), I thought I would take a look at the early conference standings and how Louisville's fall sports teams can capitalize on their remaining schedules. Jared touched on Volleyball's move up the rankings yesterday, but we'll take a brief look at the national picture as well.

Volleyball Tied with Pitt in First

Louisville Volleyball is having a great season so far. As Jared mentioned yesterday, they've moved up to #3 in the AVCA Poll, behind just Texas and conference mate Pittsburgh. Texas is alone in the number one spot in everyone's eyes, as they received 64/64 first place votes for a perfect 1600 ranking score. In the conference standings, though, it is Louisville's name on the top of the line.

Is that because Louisville comes before Pittsburgh in the alphabet? Probably, but the Cards and Panthers are tied at 2-0 in conference and both carry 12-0 overall records. Joining those two at the top of the league are Louisville's next two opponents: Clemson and Georgia Tech. 

The quartet at 2-0 in conference are four of the nine ACC teams that already have double-digit wins. Of those nine, only one is below a .750 winning percentage, as Boston College has already played 16 matches. Most teams have played 12 or 13. At any rate, Louisville's rise to the top-3 nationally has not come easily, but their road ahead is nothing to slouch at either. Clemson is not currently receiving votes, but they are riding a six-game winning streak and the match is on the road

Immediately following a tough Friday night matchup, Louisville will face a Georgia Tech squad on a seven-game win streak of their own. The Yellow Jackets are ranked 18th in the current poll and would love the opportunity to knock off a top team. GT will be coming off of a match against a very down Notre Dame team that is just 3-9 so far on the season, and the Techsters will be plenty motivated to beat Louisville and dispatch of Virginia to set up a high-profile match of their own with Pittsburgh on October 10th. 

After these two tough away matches, Louisville will get a slight breather with five matches against teams ranked fifth or lower in the conference, with four of those teams currently in the bottom half of the league. The latter part of the schedule will give Louisville plenty to think about as they fight for a conference title and prepare for postseason play. On October 24th, Louisville will host Pitt in the first of their two matches. After that, they'll still have to play Georgia Tech again and take on a Duke team currently sixth in conference but at 10-3 overall. To their benefit, they'll get to take on the aforementioned Notre Dame team twice in that time, but when have Louisville and Notre Dame ever played a normal game of anything, especially volleyball?

Fortunately for Louisville, they appear to have a team ready to compete with anyone this season, as they've already nabbed three top-ten victories. Louisville remains Purdue's only loss, as they moved to fourth in the rankings, and Kentucky and Nebraska are still ranked in the top twelve. Supporting the Cards' success is the rise of freshman libero, Elena Scott. She wrapped up the weekend by being named the ACC Freshman of the Week for the third straight week. Louisville is also playing extremely well in the middle, as Anna Stevenson is ranked fifth in the country with a 0.462 hitting percentage and Amaya Tillman is fifth in the country with 1.68 blocks per set. We'll see how long this team can keep it up.

Field Hockey Alone at the Top

Louisville Field Hockey finds themselves in an interesting position. They're the only 2-0 team in the ACC at the moment, giving them the top spot alone for the first time since I don't know when, but the teams around them are almost as hard to figure out as Louisville itself. Syracuse and UNC sit behind them in the standings at 1-0, but both started their seasons in less than outstanding ways. The pair are on four-game winning streaks, but sit at 6-2 and 6-3. respectively. Syracuse has moved up to 11th in the coaches poll with their losses coming to Kent State and Rutgers, both ranked and in overtime.

UNC is all the way up to 5th, as their three losses were to the teams currently ranked 1st, 2nd, and 9th in the country. Louisville, of course, is ranked 3rd in the country with their one loss coming to top-ranked Iowa.

In RPI, Louisville is sixth and the first team not in the Big Ten. Usually we are talking about the ACC this way, but we've talked a lot about the Big Ten's rise this season and it shows. The conference has all nine of their teams in the top 26 in RPI. Duke, the lowest ACC team, is in 27th, with the other six all in the top 17. I doubt Vegas is taking such a bet, but I'd say that the 2021 National Champion coming from the ACC/B1G vs the Field is even money. 

All that is to say, Louisville's road ahead is long. The Cards have eight matches remaining, and five are against ACC or Big Ten opponents. Louisville still has top-five opponents in North Carolina and Michigan, and the three other ACC teams are all in the top fifteen. The bright spot for Louisville is that their other three games are against lower level non-conference teams. The Cards have had their share of highly ranked non-con opponents so far this year, but the highest remaining non-conference opponent in RPI not named Michigan is the 32nd ranked Miami Redhawks. While they've been strong opponents in the past, both James Madison and Northeastern should not pose much of a threat, and they are well spaced to give Louisville recovery opportunities in the midst of their tougher matchups. 

The Cards are well poised to take a conference championship outright and have their best chance in awhile to win the conference tournament as well. Coming off of their farthest run in the NCAA tournament last season, Louisville will be looking to build on that success, and the experience against Big Ten opponents they'll likely face again could prove crucial. They're back in action Friday against Wake Forest.

Hats off to Julie Kouijzer, who was just named ACC Field Hockey Defensive Player of the Week.  And, she's been pretty productive on the scoring end of things, as well. She knocked in the game-winner against Duke and has ffour goals on the season. 

Opportunity Ahead for Soccer

Louisville women's soccer is not ranked in the top three in the country. I know that may be tough to hear, but it's true. The Cards are still working to find their feet in the ACC after half a decade in the top conference in the country. You did know that the ACC was still the top league in the NCAA, right? ACC teams make up four of the top five teams (FSU, UVA, Duke, and UNC), and FSU received all but one first place vote. That vote went to Virginia. That said, Louisville is in a decent position this year. The top eight teams in the conference make it into the ACC Tournament, and Louisville is currently tied for fourth with six points. Through three matches, they are two points clear of the cut line, though the two teams on four points are UNC and Duke. 

While that doesn't sound overly optimistic, Louisville's remaining schedule is manageable. The Cards avoid UNC and top-25 ranked Virginia Tech. Two of their remaining matches are against teams that are still winless in conference (BC and NC State) and three games are against teams that are tied or just ahead of Louisville in the standings that Louisville should be able to result against. Louisville's next two matches are against Wake Forest and Notre Dame, who have six and nine points, respectively. Both are receiving a few votes, but Louisville will be looking to bounce back from the Florida State match this week against Wake and next week's ND match is at home.

Following those, the Cards get the two home matches against NC State and Boston College. Assuming Louisville can get seven points out of those four matches, they would sit on 13 with three matches to go. In the last three full seasons, 15 points have been enough to make the tournament. If the Cards manage to win three of the next four instead of drawing one, they'll be on that seemingly safe 15 point mark. 

The reason the next four are so critical is that Louisville's final stretch is brutal. The Cards hit the road to take on UVA on October 21st and their toughest peer level team, Clemson, comes right after. The Tigers received 76 vote points this week, making them the 28th ranked team, the highest remaining opponent on Louisville's schedule outside of UVA and Duke. With that being a road game as well, I believe Louisville will struggle to find points in those two. That sets up Senior Day for the Cards, when they bring in top-five Duke. If you're like me, you are trying hard to see any points out of the final three matches. Thus, the importance on the next four. 

Louisville has shown some resilience this season. It was encouraging that the Cards didn't completely fold on Sunday and get their doors blown off as the second half against FSU wore on. For awhile, it looked like they might. However, the offense persisted and Louisville managed to get a couple of good looks at goal. FSU was able to keep them out, but the Noles aren't sitting on a +29 goal differential this year for no reason. They are legit. Louisville has also shown they can hang tough against a strong team and come away with more than a moral victory, as they grabbed a draw against Michigan earlier this season. The Wolverines are still ranked 17th in the country.

The Cards are back in action against Wake Forest this weekend, along with seemingly everyone else. They'll take on the Demon Deacons Saturday in Lynn Stadium. The hunt for nine more points begins at 7 PM. 

(Jared Anderson photos featured today



  1. Just curious does any other D1 program have two top three squads in the nation?

    Blue Lou

  2. Watched Pitt Volleyball a bit tonight. They're awfully good.

    Nick O


Please leave your comments here. We ask you be respectful of other posts, no matter how ridiculous they may seem to you. After all, it is CARDINAL COUPLE.

Any attempts to advertise a product or other website here in the comments section without the prior consent of CARDINAL COUPLE will result in a bill rendered for advertising services and possible legal action. We're serious. No more bots.

Now, have your take...