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Sunday, December 12, 2021

Final Four Bound and Gameday - Sunday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball is Final Four Bound

It was a historic ACC battle in Freedom Hall as the wide net Cards punched their ticket to Columbus for the NCAA Volleyball 2021 Final Four.  The deed was done in four sets, 25-18. 21-25, 25-21, 25-20.  Georgia Tech battled, but the Cards ultimately blocked their way to advancement.

A moment of silence for those impacted by
tornadoes in western Kentucky and the region.
Louisville has gotten off to a slow start a number of times this season, and this match was no exception with the Yellowjackets getting out to a 4-1 start before the Cards shut it down with a six point run.  Once the tone was set, UofL was able to slowly stretch the lead with GT only able to get the score margin down to two points the rest of the set.  .281 hitting for UofL over GT's .186 basically tells the tale.

It looked like it would be another relatively easy cruise for the Cards but Tech had another idea, and Louisville let off the gas a bit in the second set.  The Cards got a bit sloppy late in the set...well, as sloppy as this team ever plays, anyway.  The birds and the bees mostly traded points with a slight edge to the Cardinals leading to a 20-15 lead for UofL.  Tech then reeled off six straight points, with five of them listed as Cardinal hitting or blocking errors.  Anna Stevenson would stem the tide slightly, but the techsters would get back on it to close out the set with another four straight with two Louisville hitting errors as part of it, to take the second set.  Louisville hitting cooled to .152, and GT heated up to .281.

Anna says, "No means no."
It wasn't to last for Buzz, though.  The third set opened up much like the first, with GT getting out to a 4-1 lead before Louisville settled in and ripped off another 6-0 run.  Every bit of this one was GT attack errors, but four of the seven were credited to Louisville's blocking.  Not so fast, said GT, though, climbing back into a tie ballgame at 8-8, then a few points later, but UofL would get the lead back and never give it up in the third set.  A 6-1 run for the Cards was a big part of that, ending with a 17-11 lead.  Tech would get it within two a few times the rest of the set, but never closer.  UofL's hitting rebounded to .222.

Again, the broad pattern repeated in the fourth set.  GT put a 6-2 lead on the board before UofL would come roaring back with an 8-1 run for a 10-7 lead.  Trading points again, until an Anna DeBeer kill at 15-12.  The rotation saw Ayden Barlett sub out for Claire Chaussee returning for the front row.  But this wasn't just the usual Chaussee, this was Tournament Claire.  After a Stevenson kill, five of the next six UofL points were kills by Chaussee pushing the UofL lead out to 22-17.  A pair of GT hitting errors gave UofL match point at 24-18.  Tech staved off two of them before Stevenson had enough and planted the final point of the match through the NCAA sport court.  Hitting stayed on track at .216 in the fourth.

Overall, .217 hitting for the Cards is fine, but nothing to write home about.  Credit to GT's defense, including reasonable blocking - 7, for much of that.  GT's hitting wasn't great at .152 and the Louisville blocking was a major factor, totaling 17 blocks at a 4.25 blocks/set clip.  Back that up with Anna DeBeer and Elena Scott doing some great digging, 21 for DeBeer, and 19 for Scott, and GT had to be frustrated in their hitting game.

Tournament Claire asks, "Did someone say it's
tournament time?"
Tournament Claire led the UofL hitting at 18 kills with The Anna's not far behind, 14 for DeBeer, and 13 for Stevenson.  Three solo blocks for Stevenson, plus a solo for Amaya Tillman would headline the UofL blocking.  They would also lead the shared block category with seven and six.  Aiko Jones and Tori Dilfer each participated in four with the left side hitters, DeBeer and Chaussee contributing three and two shares apiece.

Let's give some credit on GT's side of the net for a very fine game from one of the Killer B's, Mariana Brambilla with 27 kills at a .243 clip.

So the Cards advance to a program first Volleyball Final Four.  The Cards get the "early" match in Columbus on Thursday with a 7pm first serve.  They'll be playing Wisconsin who advanced from the all-Big-Ten Regional final in Madison over Minnesota in a sweep.  The other side of the bracket has three seed Pitt with a four set win over Purdue.  Give credit to Purdue for pushing Pitt well, including a 30-28 win in the second set.  The nightcap match was Texas vs Nebraska.  The 10th seed Huskers were able to set up another reunion between Dani Busboom Kelly and her collegiate coach John Cook with a four set win over second seed Texas in the Longhorns home.  So we have an ACC vs Big Ten Final Four, with the Big-12 and PAC-12 being eliminated.

The Volleyball Final Four will be held in Columbus, OH Thursday and Saturday.  As mentioned, UofL gets the early match on Thursday with a 7pm start.  The second match will be 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first or at 9:30, whichever is later.  Both matches will be aired on ESPN.  The championship match will be Saturday evening at 7:30 on ESPN2.

(Volleyball Pictures by Jared Anderson) 

Basketball Gameday

It's hard to believe that a UofL vs UK Top 15 women's basketball gameday is playing second fiddle to anything, but that's where we are this week.

The Cards and the Cats face off at the KFC Yum! Center today at 1pm.  Always an epic battle, this installment should be no different.  The big question is who will stop Rhyne Howard, with some expectation that Hailey Van Lith draws the assignment, at least out of the gate.

How good is this Kentucky team overall?  We're not really sure, yet.  A loss against DePaul certainly raises some eyebrows.  A loss to Indiana isn't bad, and then a bunch of wins over a bunch of "meh" teams doesn't enlighten much.

Beyond Howard, the biggest scoring threats are Dre'una Edwards, Robyn Benton, and Jada Walker.  Howard is the biggest scoring threat from range, though the others have all put in respectable numbers from range.  Let's throw in the fifth scoring threat here, if for no other reason than because she has the best name in basketball, Treasure Hunt.

Louisville Athletics are joining with Kroger and the KFC Yum! Center in encouraging fans to bring cases of bottled water to the game today.  There will be a Kroger truck parked on the plaza in front of the Arena taking donations of cases of bottled water to be taken to western Kentucky to help with relief efforts in the wake of the destruction from the tornadoes that struck early Saturday morning.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Lastly, Case, Jared, Paulie, and I were all on the call for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast yesterday.  We covered a lot of Volleyball, as you might imagine, but we spent some time on Basketball as well.

You can check it out at the Youtube link:

at it's podcast home at:

or at pretty much any of your favorite podcast directories.



  1. Great VB win for Cards and I'm looking forward to WBB today. I'll miss Matty being a fool on the sidelines, but, I hear he's doing better. Love that this one got ESPN for this one and Deb Antonelli on the call. Saw she was at VB last night.

    Blue Lou

    1. Antonelli is fine, but Beth Mowins in play by play gets a big thumbs up from me. Both were in attendance at Freedom Hall.


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