Globl Jam Day One
Day one of the Globl Jam was yesterday, with Jeff Walz' squad in Toronto to represent the USA. They got underway with an 11am tip, which unfortunately means I was unable to catch this one live, because, you know, day job.
The Cards beat Puerto Rico 78-55, and it looks like the Cards really spread the love around. 10 players played and they all got eight minutes or more. Everyone scored except Eylia Love.
22 points for Sydney Taylor, 13 for Nyla Harris, and 10 each for Kiki Jefferson and Olivia Cochran. Jefferson ends up with a double-double with 10 assists, with Jayda Curry adding seven.
Free throws might be a bit of a challenge again this year with the team going 10 for 15 from the line, a 66% average that won't get an "F" in the Fred report when the season starts. Cochran, Jefferson, and Harris all picked up seven rebounds, five for Merissah Russell, and four for Hennie "HVS" van Schaik.
Taylor, nicknamed "Swish" did just that. She made six threes. The Cards built up a double-digit lead in the second quarter and push that to a 30-point lead in the third quarter.
Walz remarks "I thought all of our transfers played extremely well, our returners did some very nice things. I'm very excited about this group."
The next game is today at 5:30pm on CBS Sports Network with Canada - minus Merissah Russell - as the opponent.
Volleyball Roster Preview
Fall sports are still over the horizon, but only just. The programs are getting their updates out in preparation for the season, including roster updates. The roster entries for newcomers don't have any pictures on them yet, as those will come after media day happens for each squad. That will probably occur during the last couple of weeks leading up to the start of the season.
The roster updates do give us an opportunity to take a look at the roster as a whole and start figuring out how these teams are going to line up on the field, or court. Case did a marvelous job with Soccer on Tuesday while filling in for the vacationing Jared, so I'll take my corresponding day filling in to cover the Volleyball roster. We'll run this down by position, with departures, returners, and newcomers listed for each along with an overall analysis for the position and a final one at the end for the overall look.
Paige Morningstar hit the transfer portal, landing out on the west coast at Cal. More significant to the Cardinals, Raquel Lázaro graduated and went on to play professionally in Italy, mostly as a substitute behind the phenomenal Penn State alumna Micha Hancock.
Elle Glock and Alexis Finnvold both return and are vying for playing time. Glock runs with the slight height advantage, listed at 6'0" compared to Finnvold's 5'11".
Brigitta Petrenko is a graduate transfer from Coastal Carolina, which means she's merely transitioning bird breeds from the Chantacleers, a type of rooster, to the Cardinals that we know and love. Petrenko is from Eger Hungary, and also hits the 6'0" mark.
If I had to make a pick of who will be the primary setter for the squad, I would probably pick Petrenko, but I think there's a very real possibility that Glock could crack that position as well. Dare I even hope for a 6-2 offense, with dual setters?
Claire Chaussee is obviously the elephant in the room here, graduating and also going to play professionally in Italy and gathering a lot of attention there, she has since returned to the states and signed to play with the Grand Rapids Rise in the newly forming Pro Volleyball Federation. Also departing, however, is Nena Mbonu, who transferred to play a graduate year back home in Houston where she should be warmly greeted. Also returning closer to home is Sydni Schetnan, who will be playing for South Dakota State.
Anna DeBeer will be back, and should be fully recovered from her knee injury that she sustained playing at Stanford last year. She is still expected to be wearing the knee brace, but by this point it should just be precautionary. Also back is Nina Moorer, getting her college career under way in earnest after a red shirt year. She is currently still in a boot after a stress fracture during the spring exhibition season, but should be getting free of that any day now.
Charitie Luper joins us as a junior transfer from UCLA. She is definitely undersized as an outside hitter at "just" 5'9", but if she doesn't make it as a volleyball player, she may have a calling as a beer brewer because she's got some serious hops! We saw her play in spring play, as well as in Brazil a bit, and she looked quite impressive in all six rotations. We also have a true freshman, Alanna Bankston, joining us out of Omaha, NE. And, yes, she was at last year's Final Four in her hometown quite enthusiastically cheering on her soon-to-be teammates during timeouts when I led the C-A-R-D-S cheer, which is where I got to meet her and her mother. Alanna also looked pretty impressive in the video that I was able to watch from Brazil.
The biggest question I have with the Outside Hitting squad is whether Bankston will red-shirt. If so, expect DeBeer and Luper to be the outside hitters, likely DeBeer at L1, and Luper at L2, but if Bankston impresses enough, perhaps the coaches go ahead and bring her in and Luper would move to, well, essentially a DS position in the back row but with the ability to bring an extra super powerful back row attacking option. We saw this lineup happen a little in Brazil, but my money would be on Bankston getting the red-shirt, and Luper going all six rotations.
Amaya Tillman hung up the volleyball shoes and knee pads, but is continuing in her schooling at UofL and is expected to be a fixture in the stands cheering on her now-former teammates.
If you thought we had a big position battle for middle blockers last year, we're just getting started. Cara Crese, Phekran "PK" Kong, and Hannah Sherman all return. Crese and PK went back and forth all last season fighting for the second MB position with Tillman being solidly in the other, and I expect Sherman, after red-shirting last year, is ready to insert herself into that battle as well to make it three people vying for two spots.
Reese Robins is an incoming freshman from Texas. She comes packing a 6'5" frame and no lack of muscle on it.
It's tempting to say the battle for the two middle blocker positions could be a four way battle, but I think it's more likely that Robins will also end up with the red shirt. But remember that 6-2 offense I mentioned with the setters up there? You also need a second right side hitter to pull that off, and Robins could fill that bill, having played some on the right side in Brazil.
Aiko Jones is back. 6'2" out of Kingston Jamaica and having an absolute ball here in Louisville.
There's not much here. No one left, no one is coming in new, officially, to the opposite hitting position. Do, however, note the caveat about Robins maybe shifting over to right side in the unlikely event that we run a 6-2 offense. Regardless, seeing Jones playing right side is just about as sure of a bet as you will find in expected Louisville Volleyball lineups this season.
Alexa Hendricks is the only departure from our DS squad. She hung up the knee pads and is having a great time as an Instagram influencer, particularly after having relocated this summer with her sister to New York City.
First off, Elena Scott will be back, and her hanging onto the Libero jersey is almost as sure of a bet as Aiko Jones playing right side. Also returning is Cece Rush server extraordinaire, as well as Ayden Bartlett.
We have a trio of regional DSes joining to bolster the defense. Molly Urban, who also made the trip out to Omaha for the Final Four is joining us from Indianapolis. She'll be the shortest on the team at 5'4", but she'll probably have the tallest stack of textbooks to deal with as a freshman in Speed School of Engineering. Kamden Schrand and Jessica Drapp are similarly close by, both having to make the trek down I-71 from the Cincinnati metro area. Drapp will be coming from Cincinnati, but Schrand starts on this side of the river. Both are 5'6".
Defense is hard to predict, how many rotations are going to be available depends quite a bit on decisions in other parts of the line-up, for example, whether Luper will play six rotations, or will it be Bankston with Luper subbing in and out for her in the back row? Teams get a lot of substitutions to use in a set, but they aren't unlimited. The more subbing other positions have to do, the fewer are available to get true DSes into the game. Its extra hard here because we have a lot of good DSes to pick from. The Libero jersey got passed around a fair bit in Brazil, but that is exhibition play, so who knows how that plays out once the season starts. The three newcomers played quite well in the video I've been able to see of them, and of course, Elena Scott continues to be one of the best Liberos in the country. I feel better about our defense than I really have in a few years, just don't ask me to predict with of these are really going to see significant playing time, and which won't. As far as I can tell, it's a toss of the dice and we'll be in good shape regardless of which face comes up.
We lost three key players in Lázaro, Chausse, and Tillman, but on the whole, I think this is more of a reload than it is a rebuild. The talent is there for another deep run in the postseason, and the question is always how well will this group of young women come together as a team. The trip to Brazil obviously helps, and we've seen that there has been a great rapport and culture in this team for the newcomers to slide into and learn from.
To say the least, I'm excited for this coming season with this roster. The Final Four for Volleyball this year is in Tampa...I'm just putting that out there.