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Saturday, September 11, 2021

Fall Sports Snag Three B1G Results -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Volleyball Sweeps No. 6 Purdue

UofL Volleyball hopped on the bus yesterday to head to Cincinnati (with Jeff following closely behind in much less of a buslike vehicle). Their destination was a weekend event hosted by Xavier in which Louisville was set to play Purdue and the hosting Xavier team. These are two of Louisville's four major tests before conference play, as this weekend will be followed by a midweek matchup against UK and a final preseason weekend match against Nebraska. Xavier is not receiving votes, but they always field a competitive team. On the other hand, the AVCA's 9/6 poll had Purdue at 6, Kentucky at 8, and Nebraska at 3. Louisville is tenth in the poll.

The first match of this murderous end to the preseason showed that the rankings may not quite tell the whole story so far this preseason. Louisville came out against the Boilermakers and showed themselves to be quite a formidable opponent. The Cards' defense came to play in this one, as the team finished with 12 blocks and 56 digs. Neither team committed very many hitting errors, as Purdue had just six (18 total minus 12 blocks) and Louisville had only seven (14 total with seven blocks). That put both teams' defenses to work and the Cards came out ahead. Anna DeBeer and Tori Dilfer tied with 12 digs apiece while Elena Scott, who appears to have locked down the libero role, finished with 16. From a blocking perspective, Louisville had an extremely efficient blocking match. Their 12 blocks in the sweep gave them 4.0 per set, a pace that, if it could be consistent, would break BYU's 3.85 per set accomplished in the 2014 season. Amaya Tillman led the way with seven block assists and one solo with Aiko Jones hot on her heels with six assists and one solo. Anna Stevenson had two solo and one assist while DeBeer and Dilfer added a single block assist each.

From a serving perspective, Louisville continued to trend the right direction, finishing with five aces compared to only seven errors. They're still on the wrong side of that ratio, but Purdue finished with one and six so the Cards won more points than they lost overall. Offensively, it wasn't the showiest statline, as Louisville finished with just a 0.257 hitting percentage, but some of the top offensive leaders got it done as expected. DeBeer added to her 12 digs with 12 blocks. She and Jones tied for the team lead in errors with five, but they combined for a total of 20 kills on 51 attempts so you'll take the good with the bad. Stevenson showed back up after being a bit quiet offensively recently as she hammered 11 kills on 18 attempts with no errors. Tillman finished with five kills and Dilfer with three.

In the match, Louisville was never really threatened throughout. The match was close toward the beginning of each set, but Louisville was able to put a five point cushion between themselves and Purdue by the time they got to the 20-point mark in all three sets. They won the first two sets 25-19 and 25-16. Purdue's biggest push came when they were up against it in the third set, fighting to not get swept as a top-10 team. The Cards once again hit the 20-15 scoreline (how weird is that?) but Purdue held tighter this time. The Boilermakers went on a 4-1 run to make 21-19 in favor of the Cards. Louisville snagged one extra point in the remaining trades to win 25-21. 

The Cards are back in action tonight, looking to move to 8-0 on the season against the host Musketeers. They'll take on Xavier at 6:30 tonight. This one, like last night's match, is on FloSports, so you'll have to fork out a bit of cash if you want to watch it live. Otherwise, Jeff will have his report from live inside the arena when he writes it up tomorrow.

Soccer Draws No. 16 Michigan

Well, it's not a big win over a ranked team, but it's not a crushing loss either. As much as you all know that I hate college soccer overtime rules, it is good to escape with a draw against a Michigan team that looked absolutely defeated when they were unable to secure the win. Louisville moves to 4-1-1 with the 1-1 draw and gets a bit back on track after the disappointing showing against Western Kentucky earlier in the week.

It was a defensive battle for Louisville, as they were on their heels from the moment the opening whistle blew. Michigan is a strong offensive team and loves to get numbers forward in attack. Casey Whitfield on the commentary noted that Louisville's best chance in this one would be to sit back and counter attack hard on turnovers, much in the same way JMU did against the Cards earlier this year with reasonable success. Michigan had scored 13 goals already entering the game and had only given up two. Their only loss came 1-0 against USC in overtime. Louisville had their work cut out for them.

Right out of the gate, Michigan was ready to attack, picking up an offsides call just 27 seconds into the match. Their first shot didn't come until the seventh minute, but they would go on to put up 24 shots in the match, with eight of those being on frame. The Wolverines had more shots on goal than Louisville had total shots, as the Cards finished with just six. Fortunately for Louisville, Michigan squandered a number of opportunities, as they found themselves in great shooting positions more than once and put the ball off line. It can be great to have 24 shots in a game, but if only one-third of them are on frame, you may find yourself in a 1-1 draw at the end of the day. 

The first goal of the game came in the 19th minute, when one of Michigan's searching crosses finally found a home. The goal was by Nicki Hernandez, her fifth of the season, and it appeared that they might smell blood in the water. Louisville didn't flinch, though. The Cards responded just under two minutes later as Nina Nicosia pushed forward and found herself an unassisted goal. It was her third of the year and tied the game at one. From there, Louisville returned to parking the bus. Toward the end of the first half, Louisville once more found themselves attacking. Twice within a minute, the Cards found open looks but both shots were off target.

The second half play-by-play indicates a lot of action on just one side of the sheet. Louisville found two opportunities in the half, but both shots were easily saved by the UM goalkeeper. Gabby Kouzelos, on the other hand, found herself and her defense were quite busy, as the Wolverines piled on another eight shot attempts in the second half. The Cards escaped and headed to the worst part of collegiate soccer: golden goal overtime.

Once more, Louisville was on the back foot. The Cards were unable to find any footing offensively and actually finished the first overtime with as many fouls as Michigan had shots. Michigan's best chance came in the 97th minute with a flurry of activity. With so many Louisville players back on defense, the goal was congested and a shot toward goal was blocked by a defender. Since Michigan likes to put so many players forward, they recovered the ball once more and fired another shot. This one was the type of shot that is in the books as off frame but in reality couldn't be more on it. The shot ricocheted off the crossbar and stayed out of goal. The Cards got lucky again. 

The final ten minutes were chaos. Michigan finished with five shots in the last OT period and Louisville returned the favor on the other end. The Cards could only manage one shot in their final effort but threatened to find space more than once. The defense, on the other hand, had to hold on tight as Michigan's early onslaught put up three of their shots in the first five minutes. The ball stayed in Louisville's defensive end for the majority of the period and most of their touches were attempts just to clear some breathing space.

A draw is hardly ever a satisfying result, but it is safe to say that Louisville was pleased to get away with this one. If not for a touch of luck more than once, they could have found themselves in a hole they would have been unable to dig out of and a draw against a top-25 team is certainly better than a loss. Louisville will take the momentum from the strong defensive performance into conference play as they open the ACC season against Miami on Friday at 7PM.

Field Hockey Blanks IU in Sowry's 200th Win

It was a night of celebration for Louisville field hockey after a hard fought victory over the neighboring Hoosiers. Justine Sowry earned her 200th career coaching win in the 1-0 shutout for Louisville. After the game, our own Jared Anderson got to talk with Coach Sowry, where she lauded the improved Indiana side, indicated that their pressing style gave the Cards fits, and noted there was a lot to learn from the game. You can hear the whole interview here. 

Coach Sowry was also a bit disappointed in her offense, as they managed just two shots on goal. IU was 4-1 entering yesterday's game but had given up six goals on the season, four of them in their only loss against Lafayette. Given Louisville's offensive prowess, it would have been nice for the Cards to see a bit more success against what wasn't the most stellar defense they will play this season. As Coach said, there's plenty to learn. The goal Louisville did manage was scored in a way that will make followers of Louisville field hockey over the last few years happy: a converted penalty corner. The Cards and Hoosiers each earned two in the first half, and Louisville made the most of the Alli Bitting pass on their first with a Mackenzie Karl stop and a Filippa Niebuhr goal. 

Coming out of halftime, IU was determined to get on the board and make it a new game. They put up four shots in the quarter and earned four corners. Two of the shots managed to find the frame, but Mila de Kuijer was up to the task and nabbed two saves. They were Indiana's only two shots on goal of the game. After weathering the storm, Louisville earned two more corners of their own in the fourth quarter but they were unable to make them count.

The Cards escaped the tough matchup with a 1-0 victory, and they live to fight another day. Despite Coach Sowry's disappointment, a win is a win, and the team moves to 5-0. Louisville gets right back into it with a matchup against Liberty tomorrow at 1PM. Admission is free at Trager and the game will be on ACC Network Extra.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Another Saturday means another Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast, and it has been another exciting week. Unfortunately, the fall sports are no longer undefeated after Louisville soccer dropped their match against WKU earlier this week, but the teams have still be extremely successful so far. We'll cover all of the matches that were as well as any other news that has come out this week. As always, you can check out the live stream of the show by going to the Cardinal Couple YouTube page and clicking on the live video. Jeff usually creates that about an hour before the show, which officially starts at 11 AM Eastern. If the live time doesn't work for you, there are plenty of playback options, so be sure to check out whichever is best for you!

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Until next time, Go Cards!

1 comment:

  1. That was just a thumping by Cards Volleyball. Look out UK. We comin'

    Nick O


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