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Sunday, November 5, 2023

Volleyball Gets the Spotlight - Sunday Cardinal Couple

Volleyball in Action Alone

Did anyone recognize the player in the first picture of yesterday's article?  Akela Yuhl played with the Cardinals from 2017 to 2019.  A DS walk-on, she didn't see a whole lot of playing time, but filled in at times and found some success.  After she finished her junior year with the volleyball team, Akela did graduate with her undergraduate degree from UofL.  I did find where she is or at least was last year, working with the Dauphin Island Sea Lab while she was working on her Masters through the University of South Alabama.  Dauphin Island is a barrier island south of Mobile Bay in Alabama. 

Her major at UofL was Biology, and it appears that her interest in Marine Biology has continued and has served her well, including being part of a project to study the Mobile-Tensaw-Apalachee River Delta.  A couple of links about the project

We, of course, wish Akela the best as she continues her work and no doubt will contribute to the betterment of our world.

OK, back to the current team, however.  After Friday's loss to FSU, and as excellently outlined by Case in yesterday's CC article, the Cards find them back in a four-way tie atop the ACC conference.  The Cards don't completely hold their own destiny in their hands as they don't have another matchup in the works with FSU, but with upcoming matches still against both Pitt and Georgia Tech, they do have the ability to knock two of the teams out of that four way tie.  They do hold their own destiny in their hands insofar as winning out the rest of the season will at least result in the Cards taking down yet another co-championship in the ACC.

So that campaign begins today.  The Cards have made the relatively short trek over to Georgia Tech's travel partner, Clemson, and will square off against the Tigers at 1pm today in Jervey Gym with coverage on the ACC Network Extra.

Clemson is roughly in the mid-pack of the ACC, a significant upgrade over even just a handful of years ago when they were one of the perennial doormats of ACC Volleyball.  The Tigers did play UofL's travel partner Notre Dame Friday which they won in four sets, with a few bonus points in the first set.  That puts Clemson on a three game win streak, but, with all due respect, the competition hasn't been that great.  Notre Dame, Boston College, and Syracuse are three of the bottom five teams in the conference.

They did take UNC five sets before the Tarheels took the win, and they beat a pretty decent Miami team in Jervey Gym about three weeks back.  The Tigers' out of conference schedule didn't feature much in the way of top-flight teams, other than Florida which took the match in a sweep.

So, don't expect a top-level volleyball match today.  The Cards should win this without too much trouble, but "should" is doing a lot of work there as we've seen UofL really take their foot off the accelerator at times when playing "lesser" teams.

It's always a challenge for a team to come out and play at their top capabilities when the competition isn't as strong, but that's what I really want to see from this Cardinal team today.  It's late enough in the season that they should be a well oiled machine, and in many ways they are, but we've seen too much "let down" at times that make games that shouldn't really be competitive become rather more exciting than expected.

The Clemson offense seems to be fairly well balanced, with Aźyah Dailey, and Kennedy Wagner leading the way from the left side with 2.3 and 2.4 kills per set.  Kate Simington and Adria Powell are 6'2" and 6'4" presences in the middle.  Admittedly, PK and Cara Cresse are taller still at 6'4" and 6'6", but the tall trees in the middle on both sides of the net should make for an interesting battle at the net.

McKenna Slavik will run the show, and at 6'1" holds her own in blocking with about .4 blocks per set.  I assume Devan Taylor will be in the libero jersey, or at least looking at the Clemson season stats, that's who I would put in that role.  She's racking up 3.6 digs per set which is still behind the 4.5+ that Elena Scott keeps alive, but is still a respectable number.

So there is some talent there that needs to be game-planned for, and I'm sure the Louisville coaching staff has done so, now it's up to the players to come out and play up to their potential to demonstrate that they can play at that level, regardless of the competition.

As mentioned, this one gets started at 1pm at Jervey Gym, and is viewable on ACC Network Extra.  Don't forget that Daylight Savings Time ended last night, so if you haven't changed your clocks, you should do so, and take the extra hour that you didn't realize you had to check your smoke detector batteries as well.

Field Hockey Selection Show

Field Hockey awaits their NCAA tournament fate tonight.  Consensus seems to say that they will be getting a bid, but with only 18 places in the tournament, it's not a given, and the quality of the draw will be a big question to be answered.

The Selection Show is at 10pm and will be streamed via the website.  I was unable to find a specific URL where it will be as of yet.

The "opening round" along with the "first" and "second" rounds will be played at campus sites on November 8th, 10th, and 12 respectively, with the semifinals and finals at Karen Shelton Stadium at UNC.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

Case was back with Paulie and I yesterday for the Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast, and just in time to wrap up the season for Soccer, with a pretty serious discussion about whether KFD will be with us another year.  We also recapped a bit of Field Hockey's games in the ACC Championship, and whether their resume is strong enough to get a bid to the NCAA Tournment (consensus says, "yes").  And of course, we look at what went wrong for Volleyball Friday night, and what that means for the renewed logjam atop the ACC (imagine what it's going to be like with Stanford in the mix next year).

-- JMcA

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