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Saturday, December 11, 2021

Volleyball Prepares for Elite 8 Matchup -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Draw Dreaded Third Rematch Against GT

You never want to play a team three times. It happens most frequently in basketball, where teams will often find themselves playing a pair of regular season games and then meeting in their conference tournament. Every so often, basketball teams will even play four times. The rarity of the four time matchup in basketball somewhat matches that of the three time matchup in volleyball, since many power conferences do not play a conference tournament. That's the case for the ACC, yet Louisville had two potential double-rematches on board when the bracket was released with Georgia Tech and Pitt unable to knock each other out before either would face the Cards.

The Cards will get the first of those this evening when they play host to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in Freedom Hall. GT was able to sweep OSU, dashing the hopes of UofL fans that were looking for a longer match to take some life out of the legs of Louisville's next opponent. It wasn't particularly easy for the Jackets, nor have any of their three matches been so far. Though GT is 9-0 on sets in the NCAA tournament, at least one set in each of their matches has been decided by the minimum two points, and twice they have been forced past 25. In the last match, Georgia Tech managed to win by a total of only nine points. Louisville beat Florida by at least nine points in two of their three sets on Thursday.

All of those previous NCAA games go out the window, though, as the only thing that matters for any team at this point is that they are two wins from a battle for the championship and three from a banner. Just nine set victories stand between any team and the crown. When such a fine point is put on it, everything seems to tighten up. This is the pressure that can cause teams to crack, and Louisville is the team with the most pressure. Sitting undefeated and hosting an opportunity to head just up the road to Columbus for the Final Four is a lot to manage. Add that they have to play a team that they have already beaten twice, and things get even more nervy.

As has been noted repeatedly, Louisville took down Georgia Tech in three sets in both of their matchups this season. The Yellow Jackets were 14-4 in conference, managing to finish fourth after a surprise run from Miami, but being punished much more by the schedule than the Canes. GT had to play Pitt and Louisville two times each, while Miami got both teams just once. Though GT was able to take one of the games off of Pitt, the Panthers picked up the rematch and GT stumbled against Notre Dame for their fourth loss. Their only non-conference loss came against UCLA, the 13-seed that was just beaten by Wisconsin. 

The set scores between Louisville and Georgia Tech paint a bit of a different picture than just the top-line sweeps. Louisville opened their first match with a 25-15 win, which took a bit of shine off of Georgia Tech. Entering the match, they were looking to hunt some big game and were hosting a top-ranked undefeated team at home. The second set, though, turned things on their heads when it went to a whopping 70 points. Louisville ultimately claimed victory 36-34 before halftime, then came out with a close 25-22 win in the third. The second match was decided by just 11 points total, with a pair of 25-21 sets preceding another overtime set, which the Cards won 27-25. Having won the first set of six by ten points, the Cards managed to win the next five by an average of just 3.2. 

In both matches, Louisville faced a balanced attack from Georgia Tech's Killer Bees (a fun squad nickname on a team named the Yellow Jacket): Mariana Brambrilla, Julia Bergmann, and Bianca Bertolino. The three were effective against Ohio State as well, combining for 36 of the team's 50 kills. Louisville will need to excel in their attack and blocking, as they have throughout the tournament and the whole season, to get a third win against a team with plenty of experience and film on them.

Tonight's match is at 6PM and will be carried on ESPNU, just as the Florida match was. There are likely tickets available for Freedom Hall, so check in if you can make it out. The winner of this one will take on the winner of Minnesota and Wisconsin in the penultimate match in Columbus.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We're back this week with plenty to talk about, as always. The hot topic will, of course, be the victory over Florida and the upcoming match against Georgia Tech. We'll make sure to cover the closer than expected basketball game against Belmont and look ahead to tomorrow's top-15 game against Kentucky. 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. Let's beat those bees today and those Puddy Kats tomorrow!

    On a much more serious note, I hope all reads are OK and didn't sustain significant damage last night. I'm fine. just have to go on limb pickup patrol this afternoon. Hearts out to Mayfield.

    Blue Lou


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