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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Volleyball Advances to Sweet Sixteen -- SATURDAY CARDINAL COUPLE

Cards Sweep WMU to Advance

Louisville hosted Western Michigan in the Yum! Center last night in the second round of the NCAA tournament. As Coach Dani Busboom Kelly noted in her postgame remarks, WMU was a good team that lost only two matches all season. Louisville certainly didn't have a walk in the park, despite the final score. While they finished with a sweep, they had to earn it, winning with scores of 26-24, 25-18, and 25-22. The Cards used a good hitting night to put WMU away, hitting .359 as a team with just 10 errors. Their lowest set percentage was still .300 and every hitter with an attempt hit at least .200.

The Cards jumped out to an early lead in the first, led by a 3-kill streak for Cara Cresse that was part of a 4-0 run to move Louisville ahead 7-3. The Cards had to weather a storm, as WMU brought it back to tie the set at 12 before carrying a two point lead 17-15. After Louisville held close, it looked as though they'd be in dire straights when WMU moved to Set Point 3 with a 24-21 lead. Louisville did no less than rattle off five straight points to win 26-24. 

The second set was closer for longer, but Louisville's brief runs were more frequent that WMU's. The Cards led 15-10 before a quick spurt of energy from the Broncos made it 15-14 again. The trades continued, but they were uneven, and Louisville ultimately took the set 25-18. The second was Louisville's best hitting set, as they were .387 in that one. Somewhat surprisingly, it wasn't WMU's worst set, as that came in the first with a .140 percentage. WMU hit .235 in the second, so Louisville was just more advantageous with their points and opportunities. 

Much like the second, the third set stayed close. Unlike the second, Louisville never had a big run to open the score up. As a result, WMU hung around, threatening to take a set off of the second-seeded hosts. After an error by Charitie Luper brought WMU to within one at 23-22, Luper followed it up with a kill to give the Cards a Match Point opportunity. Cara Cresse took advantage of said opportunity, and the Cards closed it out.

Luper was the leader for Louisville offensively in this one. She finished with 11 kills, which was behind only WMU's Anna Calcagno for the match lead. Calcagno had 13 kills. Luper was the only Card in double figures, but Cresse and Anna DeBeer finished with nine, while Reese Robins had eight, PK added seven, and Aiko Jones rounded out Louisville's kills with five. PK continued her strong tournament as she also had no errors. DeBeer nearly finished with a double-double, as she added nine digs to her kills.

At the net, Louisville was dominant. WMU finished with just three blocks. Louisville had ten. Louisville was even at the serving line, finishing with five aces and five service errors. They lost the category by the narrowest of margins, as WMU put up seven aces and just six errors. Elena Scott, Elle Glock, and Brigitta Petrenko were all busy. Petrenko had 12 assists and two digs, while Scott finished with seven assists to go along with her 22 digs. Glock finished with a double-double as both setters were targeted. Glock had 26 assists and 11 digs, trailing WMU's Logan Case in both categories. Case had 36 assists and 14 digs. That would be part of the reason that DBK said Case and the libero Andelyn Simkins (who also had 14 digs) could play anywhere.

There may have been a couple of spots for improvement, but Louisville will need performances more like last night's than the one on display against Wright State if they want to make a deep run in this year's tournament. As it is, they can only take one match at a time.

Louisville played the only Friday match in their region, so they await tonight's results to determine a location and opponent. The Cards will get either Minnesota or Creighton and they'll plan in either Pittsburgh or Louisville. The match to determine Louisville's opponent is at 7:30 and the one that determines the location (Pitt vs USC) is at 7:00 PM.

Cardinal Couple Radio Hour Podcast

We'll be without Jared this week as some big game is happening in Charlotte or something. We'll have plenty to cover with the knuckleheads on hand, though. We'll talk volleyball, basketball, and whatever else strikes Paulie's fancy. 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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