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Saturday, October 22, 2022

Volleyball Rolls; Field Hockey Falls -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Get First Sweep in Three Matches

Louisville started the season 12-0 in sets before dropping one to San Diego and then three in the loss to Ohio State. After sweeping Purdue and losing just three sets in two road wins against Kentucky and Stanford, the Cards started conference play with three straight sweeps. Georgia Tech took a set off Louisville in the match on ESPN before the Cards went on the road to get two more sweeps. When they returned home last week, Louisville lost their first set of the season to an unranked opponent when they beat Virginia Tech 3-1. On Sunday, they lost their second set of the season to an unranked opponent when they beat Wake Forest 3-1. 

If you're keeping track, that's three sets lost on the road this season, with two coming against a bitter rival ranked in the top-15 and one coming against a perennial powerhouse ranked in the top-10, and six sets dropped at home, including two to unranked opponents and Louisville's only loss of the match. Louisville started this week's road trip yesterday keeping the statistical oddity alive when they headed to Charlottesville to take on the lowly Cavaliers. The Cards took care of things in a relatively straightforward match 25-18, 25-15, and 25-22. 

Virginia entered the match 9-10 on the season and 1-7 in the ACC, so there wasn't much concern about them knocking off the Cards in a normal match. However, Louisville has Pitt on the horizon, so this was definitely a trap game. The Cards didn't really blink. After getting the 1000th kill of her career against Wake Forest, Claire Chaussee got right back to work by opening the match's scoring. After a few traded points, Louisville went on a 6-0 run led by a five-serve scoring run by Aiko Jones that included three aces. Despite the 9-3 lead Louisville garnered and the 12-5 lead they turned it into, Virginia held on, using runs of their own to close the gap to 15-12 and then to 16-15. Louisville didn't let the set get tied, and a 9-3 run closed the door. 

The first set saw Louisville hit just 0.200 with six errors, but the 0.156 from Virginia, a three-point serving advantage, and two handling errors by Virginia helped keep the Cards out front. Both teams finished with three blocks in the set and ten on the match, so there wasn't much of an advantage there. 

In the second, Louisville jumped out early again, taking 6-2 and 14-6 leads. Just like before, Virginia was able to claw their way back. An 8-3 Virginia run brought the score to 17-14, but that would be about the end of that. If you'll remember, Louisville took the second set 25-15, so you know how this one ends. Amaya Tillman saw what Jones did in the first set and said, "I'll raise you." Her five-serve run saw four aces before Virginia was able to knock her off the line, after which Louisville took two more points to set the final score.

The second set was another six error set for the Cards, but they improved their hitting to 0.241. Amazing what one fewer attempt and one more kill can do for your numbers. Virginia took a step back in this one, despite having just four errors, and hit just 0.148. Louisville limited Virginia's attack opportunities with the aces, but the Hoos also limited their own chances with two more bad sets, and two service errors. The teams again tied on blocks in the set.

Things got just a little weird in the third, which you might expect from a set that nearly requires extra points between a top team in the country and a team that is below 0.500 on the season. Chaussee, who had been quiet after the opening point, won Louisville's first two points of the third to give the Cards a 2-1 lead. It was a short lived lead, though, as a service error gave the point right back. A kill by Tillman preceded a four-point run from the Cavaliers, who jumped out to a 6-3 lead. Unlike the previous two sets, Louisville didn't break out a run or two of their own to reclaim control. Instead, Louisville won a pair before the two teams traded ten straight points. Louisville won another extra point to tie the set at 11, then won three more to take a 14-12 lead. While it seemed like that brief 5-1 run would be enough to propel the Cards to finish out the third set, it wouldn't be quite so simple. Instead, Virginia continued to work hard to spoil the fun, keeping the trading up to eventually tie the set at 19. Another kill by Chaussee, her fourth of the set but just seventh of the match, gave the Cards a 20-19 lead with Aiko Jones stepping to the line. Jones was unable to repeat her previous success and a service error was followed by a block and a kill to give the Hoos a 22-20 lead. Staring down another frustrating dropped set, Louisville tightened their belts. Chaussee snagged a kill to break the Virginia serve, Nena Mbonu got her ninth to tie the set, and the Cards brought it home with two blocks and an ace.

While it certainly could have looked cleaner, Louisville went on the road and returned to their sweeping ways. Both teams hit a match high in the third set, but Louisville once again committed six errors. They finished with 18 on the day compared to just 14 for Virginia, but things mostly evened out with Virginia committing three bad sets and a ball handling error. In a surprising turn of events, Louisville dominated the serving battle, finishing with nine aces while Virginia had just two. Louisville also committed only four service errors while Virginia had five, giving the Cards a net eight point advantage in the category.

It was the Amaya Tillman show last night. After her dominant performances of late, Virginia keyed on Claire Chaussee, and other players stepped up. Tillman led the charge with nine kills (tied for team high), four aces, and seven assisted blocks. She committed just three errors on her way to 0.353 hitting, had no serving errors, and added five digs. Cara Cresse didn't play, giving Phekran Kong all of the time at the other middle spot, and PK took advantage. She finished with nine kills and just one error to lead the team in hitting at 0.571. She was also credited with an assist and three assisted blocks. Nena Mbonu led the outsides, dropping nine kills with four errors on 17 attempts. Chaussee finished with eight kills and Aiko Jones with seven. Raquel Lazaro was all over the court, adding six assisted blocks, six digs, and a kill to her 34 assists. 

One of the big ones is next. Louisville takes on Pitt tomorrow at 1PM. This is Louisville's last listed match on the ESPN platforms, though they do have two more matches scheduled to air on the linear ACC Network channel. It's a busy week for the Cards, who have a Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday to close out October. Pitt is playing their fourth straight home match before heading back on the road, and they swept Miami, Florida State, and Notre Dame in the previous three. At 19-2 (9-0), the Panthers are ranked 8th in the country. They are theoretically behind the Cards in the conference standings on overall winning percentage, but that doesn't mean much. Tomorrow's match is for the outright lead in the ACC. Tune in to ESPNU to see them duke it out.

Field Hockey Loses Late at Syracuse

After the thrilling shootout victory against Duke and the 4-0 romp over Ball State on Senior Day, Louisville field hockey was riding a high heading up to Syracuse in an attempt to close out the season strong. The Cards would need to beat the Orange and Boston College to finish the conference season .500, but it wasn't meant to be. Despite taking the lead in the fourth quarter, Louisville's defense faltered, and Syracuse scored two goals in the final ten minutes to win.

The first quarter of this one was very much a "feel each other out" kind of opener. Both teams substituted frequently, but the only other event in the quarter was a shot by Embry Jane Imorde that was wide of the cage. The teams made a combined sixteen substitutions to try and see what would work best before implementing those plans in the second. The action started quickly, with Syracuse forcing a save on their first shot of the game two minutes into the period. Louisville earned a corner shortly after, forcing Syracuse's first save on a Julie Kouijzer shot. The Cards gave up a penalty corner a minute later, with Sasha Elliott being on-hand to save the shot. She'd get her third save on Syracuse's last shot of the half with four minutes to go. Louisville earned two more shots of their own, with one coming on another corner, but both were wide of the mark. 

The floodgates opened in the second half. Syracuse earned a corner in the first minute, but they were unable to get a shot. Five minutes later, they repeated the effort, this time forcing an Elliott save. Louisville took their turn next, forcing a pair of saves on corner attempts. More substitutions followed before Syracuse got another shot from open play with four minutes left in the quarter. The attempt was saved, but the danger not completely cleared. After a Louisville substitution during a stoppage, Syracuse's Quirine Comans scored her 13th goal of the season, chipping Elliott to give the Orange the lead. Louisville was undeterred, and Katie Schneider responded with her own goal from open play just under two minutes later. Despite all that had happened, the two teams entered the fourth just as they had the third: tied. 

It didn't stay that way for long. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Louisville earned a penalty corner. The attempted shot by Kelsey McCrudden was blocked, but it was done so illegally, giving Louisville a penalty stroke attempt. Aimee Plumb stepped up to take the attempt for the Cards and converted. Louisville led 2-1. Syracuse went back to work on offense. Three minutes after Louisville took the lead, Syracuse tied it back up. A penalty corner resulted in no shot, but initiated another corner, as they often do. This time, a shot was offered, and Louisville was able to block it away. Unfortunately, "away" meant right to the corner taker, who chipped a defender to tie it up. Their offense didn't stop there. The Orange kept up the pressure, forcing back-to-back saves with six minutes remaining. With four minutes left, they were back in the circle, and Sasha Elliot was again up to the task... almost. Elliott's eighth save of the night was recovered by Comans and fired home for her second goal of the night and 14th on the year. Elliott would be called on again just thirty seconds later before she was pulled with three minutes left to give Louisville an extra attacker. For a moment, it looked as though the Cards might repeat their magic from a week ago, as they earned a corner with thirty seconds left. The corner was for naught, though, with Louisville unable to find a shot. Final score: 3-2.

All season, we've waited for the Louisville offense to show up in conference the way that it does for non-conference games. Entering the night, Louisville had been outscored 8-1 in their four conference games, despite holding an overall 31-14 goal advantage on the season. For the first time all year, Louisville scored more than one goal in a conference game. Unfortunately, they also gave up three goals for just the second time this season. Despite the three goals, Sasha Elliott was fantastic. She had nine saves, as Syracuse's offense was relentless. Louisville was outshot 13-9 and 12 of those 13 were on frame for the Orange. Louisville put just five shots on frame, despite out earning Syracuse on corners 6-5. 

Louisville will look ahead now to Cornell as they travel to Ithaca to take on the "Big Red" on Sunday at 11AM. They'll hope to take down their third Ivy League team of the year before they play their home finale against BC on Friday. The Cards need a strong finish to the season for momentum purposes as much as anything else. The Eagles are 6-9 on the season and 2-3 in the ACC, so a win can give Louisville an improvement in ACC Tournament seeding. Despite being 1-4 in conference, Louisville is still ranked in the top-ten nationally, but they'll likely need to win the last two and get at least one win in the conference tournament to make the NCAA tourney. 

Louisville Live

Lindsay and I celebrated our anniversary last night with an evening at Cooking at Millie's, so I wasn't in attendance at Louisville Live. The rest of the crew was, so I'll let them share their thoughts throughout the week. Jared did send me some photos of the event, though, so have a look and see the excitement the team has for the upcoming season.

Angel was one of last night's honored guests.

Payton Verhulst won the three-point competition
The team reacted accordingly.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We've got almost a full house this week, as we're all available but Daryl. A tee-time in late October is a rare opportunity, so we won't hold it against her. Hopefully she doesn't have to play through a group of cows like the folks at Cherokee Park did earlier this week. We'll have plenty to discuss, so be sure to tune in. 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!


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