Volleyball Victorious in Lincoln
Hop in the ol' CCRHP time machine with me. We're not going far, and it won't take a second, because it's a time machine, right?
We're just going back to early July of this year, like I said, not far. The fall sports schedules for UofL Athletics were just released. Looking at the volleyball schedule and we see a nine day stretch with matches against Purdue on a neutral court, reigning national champs Kentucky, and Nebraska at Lincoln.
There's no way Louisville comes out of that gauntlet with three wins, right?
OK, back in the time machine back towards the present. Stop! Not quite all of the way back, yet. We're now just 24 hours in the past. Louisville got the wins over Purdue, a sweep in fact. They also had a barnburner, and rather sweaty, 5-set win over Kentucky. The final game of that stretch is imminent. The Cards look good, and have even found themselves the better ranked team than Nebraska. A win looks like a very real possibility, though not a sure thing. Surely it'll take at least four sets to do it, right?
No, it didn't take four sets. The Cards walked into the Devaney Center, with over 8,200 Huskers fans, yet another sell-out crowd, and got down to business. An hour and 45 minutes later, UofL walks out carrying their broom that has gotten so much use this year. Sweeping the Huskers 25-17, 25-20, 25-18.
UofL held Nebraska to just .046 hitting in the match. Much of the credit goes to UofL once again touching the four blocks per set rate that puts the Cards in the upper echelons of blocking teams in the NCAA. Aiko Jones, Amaya Tillman, and Anna Stevenson led that blocking effort. Jones got in on seven, while Tillman shared five plus a monster solo. Stevenson picked up two big solo blocks and shared in another four.
Offensively, Stevenson, Jones, and Anna DeBeer racked up double digit kills, 11, 10, and 10 respectively. Jones' OH .381 is a good performance, but Stevenson's .588 probably did the most to pull the team hitting up to .255.
The first set opened a bit tentatively by both teams, with some back and forth, until they reached a 4-4 tie. The Cards then put together a 4-0 run, the biggest run of the set, up to 8-4. Nebraska's biggest run of the set got them back to within one point at 10-9, but UofL returned the favor to stretch it back to 13-9. The Cards got settled in and put together another couple of 3-0 runs to continue to slowly expand on that lead.
UofL would get the first point, again, in the second set, and again trade a few points with Nebraska early. A mini-run would then get the Card's lead to 6-3, but UNL would battle back to tie the set at 9. The middle of the set would be consumed by lots of back and forth scoring until Nebraska led the set at 17-16. They would never lead at any point in the match by more than one point, however. Louisville would get the next point, however, and then rotate into the Tori Dilfer service rotation. This rotation has proven to be by far the most effective for the Cards. With a front row of Claire Chaussee, Amaya Tillman, and Aiko Jones, all potent weapons, with an escape hatch of Anna DeBeer's high flying, high power, back row attack.
Louisville would use this rotation in this set to go on a five point run, gaining separation out to 21-17. Nebraska wasn't really ready to give up, however, continuing to battle to 22-20 before Aiko Jones decided that she wanted to put an end to it. Two kills by Jones, and a team-up with Stevenson would close out the set for the Cards.
In the third set, Nebraska would battle. It had become clear that Louisville was overall the better team, at least on this night, but the Husker's dug deep and battled. Neither team was able to get more than a two point lead for much of the match. Nebraska held a slim one point margin at 17-16 and then one of those DeBeer back row attacks rotated Tori Dilfer into the service position. Yes, UofL was back to that same rotation. UofL would use it for a 7-0 run, mostly on Nebraska hitting errors and with a big Amaya Tillman solo block. Nebraska would get one last point before the match closed out on Husker hitting errors.
UofL closed out non-conference play in a dominant fashion, with a easily-in-hand win over Purdue, a tougher win over the defending national champs, and a solid win over a perennial powerhouse on their home floor where they enjoy one of the biggest home court advantages of any team in the country. The Cards will move on to conference play, starting with hosting the Florida contingent of the ACC, Miami and Florida State, this coming weekend. Conference matches to keep an eye on are against Georgia Tech and Pitt, ranked 18th and 4th respectively.
Field Hockey Eyes the Hawkeyes
The ACC is generally considered the premier conference in Field Hockey, but this year, the Big 10 is making it known that they haven't given up on the sport. With eight ranked teams, and six of those in the top 10, it's seemingly the Big 10's year in Field Hockey.
Iowa contributes to that Big 10 ranking presence, currently sitting in the 2nd spot in the nation.
Ellie Holley, Lokke Stribos, and Ciara Smith are the goal leaders for Iowa, with six, five, and five. Expect Grace McGuire in the cage for the Hawkeyes. McGuire has only four goals against this season, though all of those came at the hands of ACC teams. Wake Forest was able to get three by her, and UNC got the other. Iowa has blanked everyone else they've played this year.
You can catch this one on the ACC Network linear channel on your TV at 2pm or come out to Trager where Field Hockey admission is always free.
Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast
We always want you to tune in to the CCRHP, but we didn't have a Case for it this week.
Case was attending a morning wedding, so wasn't able to join us, but did get Daryl back with us along with Jared, Paulie, and myself.
Of course, we recapped the latest from Field Hockey, Soccer, and a big rivalry win for Volleyball along with previewing upcoming competitions. We also looked at the UofL WBB ACC Schedule.
As always the stream is available below, or via the usual podcast locations