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Saturday, December 10, 2022

Volleyball Faces Oregon in Elite 8 -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Face Ducks for First Time Ever

Louisville teams have a history of playing Oregon in the tournament. The men's and women's basketball teams have done it a couple of times over the years. The two schools hardly ever face off in the regular season, though WBB did it a couple of years ago in an early season tournament. Because of the distance and conference affiliations, there is hardly any reason for the teams to play each other, which is why Louisville volleyball will be taking on Oregon for the first time ever this evening. It's a heck of a time to play a team for the first time, with a trip to Omaha for the final four on the line.

Since they played the game before Louisville on Thursday, you're probably well aware that Oregon knocked out the presumptive home team of the final four when they beat Nebraska on Thursday afternoon. The teams went the distance, with the fourth set going to 62 points. In that set, Oregon led 24-22, but Nebraska won three straight points to give themselves match point. The Ducks would go on to stave off a total of four match points before ultimately winning the set 32-30. The winner was brutal for Nebraska, as a Husker attack attempt blew up the defender on the dig. Instead of careening wildly into the stands or off somewhere crazy where an Oregon player would sprint to try to keep it in play, the ball floated right back where it came from. With Nebraska still in their attacking positions and moving to set up for potential blocks, it went straight over the front line and found a soft spot in the defense. No one could get there in time, and what could easily have been a kill for Nebraska to tie it at 31 turned into set point.

The fifth was much less in doubt for Oregon, as they turned the ball over on a service error to make it 6-4 before going on a seven-point run to solidify a 13-4 lead. At the time, I remarked that it would take a miracle for the Huskers to get back in it, and they did try, but the deficit was too large in the race to 15. When Oregon scored the match winner, Nebraska had already held off six match points in a row and would have needed three more to extend it. 

Oregon finished second in the PAC-12 with a 26-5 overall record and a 17-3 record in conference. Like the ACC, the PAC-12 still has their top two teams in the Elite Eight, with Stanford taking on San Diego today. The B1G has two teams remaining as well, but Ohio State finished fourth in the conference. The B1G had five teams in the Sweet Sixteen, but only could have advanced three, with Ohio State knocking out Minnesota and Wisconsin taking down Penn State. Both of those losing teams beat Oregon in the PAC-12/B1G challenge by a combined score of 6-3. 

Oregon's conference schedule started out strong, as they won their first four matches 12-1, including a sweep of Stanford. They lost their next three matches to Wazzu, Washington, and USC, with both of the matches in Washington going five sets. They would go on to get revenge on all three teams in November, as they won their last 13 matches. It's no wonder that Oregon was so comfortable in their fifth set against Nebraska. Thursday's match was Oregon's tenth of the season. The team is now 7-3 in five set matches this season. Conversely, Nebraska had just three regular season matches go to five sets and they won them all. Louisville is in a similar position, going 2-1 in five setters this season.

Like last weekend, Louisville should be on fairly equal footing from a rest perspective. The two teams got a whole day yesterday, which is different from the opening rounds, but Louisville still had the later match Thursday. With the sweep by Louisville taking just 131 total points compared to the 224 played by Oregon, the Cards should have had less recovery to do. Notably, Oregon's two kill leaders, Mimi Colyer and Brooke Nuneviller, took 71 and 56 swings, respectively, on Thursday. That's quite a few jumps and tired legs may make just the difference against a strong blocking team like Louisville.

The match gets underway today at 4PM in the KFC Yum! Center. There is probably still time to get tickets, but if you can't make it, the match will be on ESPNU. With no other match in the arena, there's no concern about Louisville getting started late, and the 4PM match is the first of the evening. With the 6PM and 8PM matches both hosting teams on Central and Eastern time, I'm sure Oregon fans would have preferred one of those two slots, but the NCAA doesn't really care what they think. Tune in to watch the Cards fight for a chance at the Final Four!

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

I'm out this week for a double birthday party with my in-laws, but the show must go on. The other four knuckleheads will all be on hand to discuss the joy and excitement of Louisville women's athletics. They'll talk volleyball, of course, as well as Louisville WBBs up and down week and the impending 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. Wht an incredible match ! Louisville looked like a beaten team for the match after that third set but, as we saw, adapted, survived and finally won!

    Nick O


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