Volleyball Sweeps Notre Dame
In a rare Monday night match, #1 Louisville Volleyball made the trip up to South Bend to square off against Notre Dame. Despite their success in recent years, the Irish entered the match 11-13 on the year and are more than likely not NCAA Tournament bound this year.
Louisville made semi-quick work of the Irish with a 3-0 sweep with all three sets ending with a 25-18 score.
Notre Dame held an early 8-6 lead in the first set and kept the set tight until about midway through the set. Then, the Cards kicked on the gears with a block party and some pretty kills by Claire Chaussee and Anna DeBeer to take the opening set 25-18.
Similar to the first set, Notre Dame had a small 10-9 lead early in the second set. Many thanks to Anna Stevenson for being a part of four straight blocks and earning a kill, the Cards would win seven straight points. The remaining portion of the set was the Anna Stevenson and Claire Chaussee show.
Despite what the score in the third set said, it wasn't all that close. The Irish jumped out to early 3-0 and 5-2 leads as Coach Dani Busboom Kelly started rotating different players in. Then, the Cards settled in and won a remarkable 16 straight points. It was a combined effort from everyone on the floor during that run, which also featured three service aces from Elena Scott. Notre Dame dug their heels in and tried to come up with an answer and did come within six late in the set, but the Cards stood firm and silenced the rally. 25-18 again and the Irish were swept.
Eight Cardinals recorded a kill with Anna DeBeer logging 12. Anna Stevenson and Claire Chaussee each had eight. Tori Dilfer took the major load with 34 assists, but Rachael DeMarcus did get some playing time and logged an assist as did Elena Scott. A total of 11 players logged a dig in the box score with Scott on top with 12. Louisville didn't need to rely on digs on the defensive side much due to a strong presence at the net. Stevenson was all over the Notre Dame attack game with eight blocks. DeBeer and Tillman each finished with five.
For a team in the final stretch of the regular season with eyes on an ACC title and an undefeated season, Louisville was rolling on all cylinders. The Cards improved to 25-0 on the year and 15-0 in the ACC with three matches remaining.
Pittsburgh remains two games behind the Cards and Georgia Tech is three games back. Louisville can clinch at least a share of the conference title with a win against Duke on Friday night. Meanwhile, Pitt travels to Georgia Tech in a Top 25 match-up and a battle for the second spot in the conference. Louisville fans will want to pull for the Yellow Jackets (the Cards own the series tiebreaker against Georgia Tech this year) as a Pitt loss and a Louisville win would solidify the conference title.
The following Wednesday, Louisville will travel to Pitt for a 5:00 start time and then wrap up the season at home on Black Friday against Georgia Tech. If my math is correct, seven seniors will be recognized that evening.
While we're on the subject of volleyball, there's been a big question asked lately: Where will the Cards host their NCAA Tournament matches? Well.... we can't answer that just yet. There's some tricky obstacles in the way.
LNFCU Arena is too small to host all the way up through the Regional Finals so you can scratch that one off the list. The KFC Yum! Center seems like the obvious choice, but between two Louisville basketball teams' schedules and a Pentatonix concert, that's a no-go. You could ask the KFC Yum! Center operations team to reschedule the Pentatonix concert, but they'll laugh in your face. One of the sad truths to Olympic sports is that they don't bring in much revenue, if any, even in the post-season. Pentatonix being one of the biggest names in music still is guaranteed to bring a pretty penny to the facility.
So the next guess would be Freedom Hall or Knights Hall. Freedom Hall houses more and is the better venue between those two, but Bellarmine women's and men's basketball use the facility for home games. Some of you may remember the old Louisville basketball days at Freedom Hall. I have on good word that Louisville is trying to host NCAA Volleyball Tournament matches at Freedom Hall and have entered negotiations with Bellarmine for the Knights to relocate or reschedule their scheduled games. Please note, entering negotiations doesn't mean that it will happen.
Let's also remember Louisville provides Trager Field for Bellarmine Field Hockey and the Cards could play the "since we did that for you, we expect this" card.
As long as Louisville keeps winning then it's a good problem to have. I'd much rather be able to have the Cards play in town for the first four matches of the tournament than have to travel somewhere else. For now, we'll wait and see.
Women's Basketball Opens Home Season with Bellarmine
After a not-so-perfect start to the season, Louisville Women's Basketball gears up for their home opener when Bellarmine visits the KFC Yum! Center tonight. Tip-off is set for 7:00 p.m., and can be viewed on ACC Network Extra (online).
The game against Bellarmine is actually part of a back-to-back home game series for the Cards, who then host UT Martin on Wednesday. The UT Martin game will be a homecoming game for former Cardinal Seygan Robins. Robins is one of three players on their roster from Kentucky.
But back to tonight's opponent: Bellarmine. The Knights are in their second year in Division I play, and their women's basketball team has had a bit more difficult time adjusting than their men counterparts. There are eight players on Bellarmine's roster from Kentucky, including some local high schools such as Manual, Sacred Heart, Bullitt East, and North Bullitt.
The Knights went 5-17 last year, including 5-11 in the Atlantic Sun Conference. They started this year with a 72-59 loss to Cincinnati.
In their season opener, Bellarmine was led by Claire Knies' 21 points. The sophomore went 5-7 from three-point range. Senior forward Lauren Deel added 10 points and eight rebounds. Deel was one of three Bellarmine players to record at least five rebounds. Bellarmine committed 25 turnovers but did force the Bearcats into 23 turnovers.
Bellarmine's biggest positive this season is bringing back a lot of experience. They have seven players that are considered a junior or higher, including the COVID-19 season.
As much as I want to say that this will be a close game, I just don't see it happening. After watching the Cards romp Bellarmine last year 97-46 and Louisville coming off a loss to open up the year, this one has the making of another blowout. Louisville's offense was not in rhythm against Arizona, and after seeing what they did against Union in the preseason exhibition, the Cards could easily drop 85-90 points tonight.
Chancellor Dugan is the head WBB coach for the Knights and will eventually, in our eyes, build a strong WBB program. If it can be done at tiny Wake Forest, it can be done at Bellarmine.
However, you can't ever count a team out until the final buzzer, so make sure to tune into this game (or go if you can) to see how the Cards respond from Friday. Paulie and I will be on the court for this one and Jeff will be up in the stands.
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!