Happy Thanksgiving, Cards fans! Normally we take today off from posting any articles... buuut we have a good reason to post a story today.
Louisville Volleyball Remains Unbeaten, Downs Pittsburgh
#1 Louisville Volleyball had the attention of the entire volleyball world last night when they traveled up north for a match with #3 Pittsburgh. The match was a rematch from a five-set thriller when the two ACC rivals were ranked second and fourth, respectively, at LNFCU Arena.
This match certainly lived up to the hype as the Cards took down the Panthers 3-1 (25-19, 25-19, 17-25, 25-21) at Fitzgerald Field House.
The two powerhouse programs through haymakers at each other all night, never giving the other a chance to get comfortable on the court.
Set One: 25-19
The Cards and Panthers traded points back-and-forth for the first half of the opening set all the way up to 14-14. Louisville managed to break through with a 5-0 run highlighted by the 'Anna Show' with Anna Stevenson logging a pair of kills and Anna DeBeer earning a kill and an ace in the run. A mini run of three straight Claire Chaussee kills gave the Cards a 23-16 cushion before a DeBeer kill claimed the first set victory.
Set Two: 25-19
Pitt found themselves ahead 5-2 following a 4-0 run early on. Louisville used their own small run to tie the score at five apiece after Stevenson earned her first two kills of the set. Louisville and Pitt would continue to fight back-and-forth up to a 13-13 tie. Similar to the first set, a mid-set run helped the Cards pull ahead. Two straight Chaussee kills, a Pitt error, and a kill by Amaya Tillman allowed Louisville to take a moment to breathe. Ready to extend their lead, another 4-0 run late in the set pushed the Louisville lead to 22-15. Pitt never got closer than within five the rest of the set as the Cards took a 2-0 lead into halftime.
Set Three: 17-25
When playing the #3 team in the country on their Senior Night, you expect them to battle back. And that's what Pitt did. Much of the set involved Pitt building a one-to-two-point lead and Louisville having to play from behind. Up 18-16, the Panthers were ready to close the door on the third set, using a 6-0 run to go up 24-16. The run was disrupted by an Amaya Tillman kill, but the Cards could not muster up a rally and surrendered the set to the Panthers.
Set Four: 25-21
Allowing a home team to build momentum is never good, and Pittsburgh was ready to run with their momentum. Louisville held an early 4-1 lead, but things seemed to crash and burn right after. Pittsburgh got hot and went on a 9-0 run to build a commanding 10-4 lead. Anna Stevenson was able to put an end to their run with a kill. The two teams would traded points until Louisville went on a mini 3-0 run started by a Pitt service error and ending with an Ayden Bartlett service ace. Not ready to relinquish their lead Pittsburgh scored a quick point and went up 14-10. However, Louisville didn't become #1 by sitting down and quitting. A 5-0 Louisville run that featured a little help on some poor Pitt attacking, gave Louisville a one-point lead.
Once again, UofL and Pitt traded points until they came to an 18-18 tie. A service error sparked a mini 3-0 Louisville run that ended in controversy. Pitt challenged a kill by Jones, stating that the kill was long. Replay appeared to agree with the Panthers, but the officiating crew stuck with their initial call before awarding an arguable make-up call the next point. Following the theme, it was another series of trading points until Louisville found themselves at match point and a 24-21 lead. It was only fitting that one of the best blocking teams in the country win the match on a block by Stevenson.
The sold out crowd of 3052 was silenced... well, there was a fairly decent Louisville fan base present celebrating, as the Louisville squad rushed to the middle of the court celebrating the big victory. The win secured the sole ACC title for Louisville as well as extended their undefeated season to 27-0.
Three Cardinals were in the double-digits in kills- Claire Chaussee (16), Anna DeBeer (15), and Anna Stevenson (12), with all three hitting north of .380. Nearly all of those kills were credited to Tori Dilfer's game-high 45 assists.
On the serving side, Louisville committed nine service errors as opposed to 10 from Pitt, but Louisville did come up with six aces. Aiko Jones and Ayden Bartlett each had two aces while Elena Scott and Anna DeBeer contributed one apiece.
Louisville's blocking wasn't the difference maker in this match per se (11-10 advantage), but the blocks came at opportune moments. Anna Stevenson was apart of seven blocks (five solo blocks). Aiko Jones was a part of five blocks and Amaya Tillman got in on four.
Louisville will wrap up their regular season at home against Notre Dame this Friday at 5:00 p.m., ET. The match is sold out.
Louisville is also guaranteed to host the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament a LNFCU Arena (sold out, but that could change based on the number of tickets each team receives) and they're in good position to host the NCAA Regionals at Freedom Hall. The Final Four will be held in Columbus, Ohio.
We normally like to take today off to celebrate and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. A day off from work and Louisville women's sports is needed every once in a while. Don't forget that we cover 12 UofL women's teams throughout the year as well as try to stay up-to-date with Louisville Alums around the world in their various professional teams.
I think Jeff gave a wonderful Thanksgiving article back on Nov. 14 (it may be on the second page for most devices) and there's no way I can top that. But I do want to go ahead and give thanks.
First, I want to thank everyone that is a part of our Cardinal Couple Crew that allows us to continue to run smoothly (usually) and to stay up-to-date with so many Louisville happenings. Seriously, have you tried knowing everything about every Louisville women's team at the same time? It's definitely not a one-person job. Between our daily coverage, recent photos, personalized player and coach interviews, and a unique and one-of-a-kind podcast, it feels like we have a full army keeping this ship upright.
Secondly, I want to thank YOU. Whether you check out Cardinal Couple to see how one specific sport or player is doing, or you like to get caught up on all the happenings, or you want a unique perspective on many sports, or you enjoy a judgement-free zone to post your thoughts, we would not be able to function without our readers/fans/engagers.
Third, I would be remiss if I did not thank Louisville Athletics. Without Louisville Athletics we have no teams to cover and no purpose here. They bring us great joy (and the occasional frustration) and allows us to do what we love. Included in this would be the terrific Sports Information Directors who provide us with media credentials and all of the resources we need to do our job efficiently.
I am also thankful for the opportunity to continue to grow and share my photo abilities here. Cardinal Couple was the first place to bring me on for photos. Looking back at my early work, I appreciate that Paulie ttook a chance on me when he agreed to bring me on. Over time, my work has improved and I've been able to provide better quality work to share here.
On a non-UofL note, I am also thankful for my family. My parents and brother live no more than a couple minutes from me so I am able to see them regularly. Much of the rest of my family is nearby as well, including aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, so I get to see them too. Of course, I am absolutely blessed to have such a fantastic and amazing fiancé in Katy. She has been my biggest cheerleader and supporter and I have no idea where I would be without her.
From our Cardinal Couple family to You, have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.