STANFORD TAKES FINAL THREE SETS TO UPSET CARDS
What began as a celebratory Sunday afternoon in front of nearly 10,000 fans in the KFC YUM! Center turned into a disappointing match loss for the Cardinals to the Cardinal. The Louisville squad lost in five sets to the visitors from Palo Alto 25-22, 25-20, 14-25, 20-25, 12-15, It was Louisville's first math of the season, dropping them to 9-1 on the season.
It was a testimony to a couple of things. The first was Stanford's belief that they were never out of the match. The second was that tall teams can block even the best of kill artists at the net.
Louisville jumped out to a 9-4 lead to begin the match and the Cards were having success with kills from Phekran Kong, DeBeer, Charitie Luper, Aiko Jones and Cara Cresse. Stanford rallied after a time out to get within three at 16-13, but A Jones kill seemed to re-awaken UofL and they pushed to a 24-20 lead. Stanford gave it one last try in the set, rolling off two points, but committed an attack error to give Louisville a first set 25-22 win.
Louisville blasted out of the gates early and grabbed a 10-4 lead, thanks to three Cresse and two Jones kills. Stanford would fight back to make it a 12-10 UofL lead, but, PK delivered a couple of kills to bump the Cardinals lead to 14-10. Stanford returned the favor, though, by scoring four of the next five points to set the tally at 15-14 UofL. The "Trees" called a timeout when Louisville built the lead to 20-16 but Charitie Luper came on strong for UofL and she and Kong registered the final two kills of the match to give UofL a 25-20 lead and a two set lead at halftime
I'd like to report that UofL roared out and won this set (and match) convincingly...but Stanford was the squad who started strong and built a 5-1 lead. The visitors had made the necessary adjustments, and realized they had superior height . Louisville trailed 11-7 when they wheels fell of and Stanford ripped off five straight points to put this one effectively out of reach at 16-7. Louisville did get back with six points a couple of times, but Stanford slammed the door with a 9-7 run to take set three 25-14
Louisville did grab an early 5-3 lead on Jones, Luper and DeBeer kills, but Stanford withstood the early UofL success and rallied to take a 13-9 lead. A Cardinals timeout seems to help and the home team trailed only 20-18 before Stanford ran off three straight points and then split the final four points of the set to get the 25-20 win and even the sets up at 2-2.
Momentum was in Stanford's favor and they got the first two points of the deciding set. Louisville, though, got Jones and DeBeer kills, plus a a Stanford service error to go up 6-4. Stanford battled back, however and tied the final set at 8-8,and then effectively closed the door on the Cardinals with four straight points to grab a 12-8 advantage. The Cards lessened that Trees lead to 13-11, but could only muster one of the set's final three points (a Kong kill) and fell 15-12.
A tough loss for Louisville but you have to give Stanford credit for finally figuring out who to key on, who to effectively contain and how to use their height edge .Stanford had a 71-59 kill edge in the match, hit .329 (to UofL's .235) and got 23 kills from Caitie Baird (that pesky #22 redshirt ,senior outside hitter who hails from Indianapolis.
The loss will most likely drop the Cards out of the #2 in the nation spot, but the Cards should slide any further down than maybe to #4 in the national rankings.
(PHOTOS BY JARED ANDERSON)