Louisville volleyball improves to 4-6
By Noah Allison
Card Nation got its first glimpse of the 2013-14 U of L volleyball team when
Cardinal Arena hosted the Active Ankle Challenge on Saturday. The Cardinals
defeated Rice University, 3-11, three games to none in their noon game and Virginia
Tech, 12-2, three games to two in their 7:30 primetime game.
“It was great, I thought the intensity and the atmosphere was really great
here in the Cardinal Arena. It made it a little bit more intimate and the crowd really
got into it. We had a great match between Virginia Tech and Louisville, it went all
five sets, which really brought the energy up in the gym, so it was a great night for
us,” Chad Stephens, Marketing Manager for Active Ankle said.
The Cardinals entered the arena that morning 2-6 and left late that night 4-6.
In their first match of the day against the Rice Owls they swept the arena with a 3-0
shutout, defeating them in consecutive games 25-23, 25-15, and 25-20.
That evening the Cardinals hosted the Virginia Tech Hokies and proved
victorious in a five game match, after winning the opening game 25-23 in a hardy
battle, the Cardinals had to prove resilient after suffering a quick and painful 12-25
loss. The game that ensued was an epic that went the Hokies way 34-36. The
Cardinals responded with two gritty wins taking the fourth game 25-18 and
clinching it in game five 15-9.
“That was a huge match, I couldn’t have been more proud of how they fought.
They came out and played real hard in game one, game two they just completely
crushed us. Then game three was a heartbreaker, to come back from game two, fight
so hard in game three and come so close and fall short, most teams would probably
just pack it up and call it a day,” Head Coach Anne Kordes said.
“But then for them to push it in game four and take control in game five, that
just shows the grit and the heart. And it proves that we can be in any match for the
entire season, I’m really proud of them.”
In front of a packed house the, atmosphere was equal if not greater to the
Cardinal’s 72-0 football victory over FIU that went on earlier that day. A student
section made up the swim and dive team was almost 40 people deep with U of L’s
aquatic athletes. The faithful U of L fans, made up of students, student athletes, alumni,
parents, and members of the community packed Cardinal Arena for the epic match
against Virginia Tech.
“It was amazing. I have never been able to play in front of such an energetic
crowd. So many fans advocating for you, there were other teams supporting us like
the Men’s Swim & Dive team. It was an amazing feeling to be able to bring it home
finally and have such a great support system in our fan-base here,” senior middle
blocker Randi Ewing said.
Ewing had eight kills and on the night, senior middle blocker Brooke Mattingly’s
20 kills had her named the Active Ankle Challenge MVP. Freshman outside hitter,
Maya McClendon, added 14 kills and 11 digs. Red-shirt freshman outside hitter,
Janelle Jenkins, had 13 kills and senior outside hitter Emily Juhl had 10 kills.
Sophomore setter, Katie George, had 61 assists, three kills and 13 digs, while senior libero,
Caitlin Welch, led the team with 30 digs.
The Cards struggles on their opening road series proved that this young team
has its flaws, but it also has its fight. Moving towards conference play the Cards
expectations do not allow for many more losses to be added to their record.
“Anybody on any given day can beat you, it doesn’t matter if it’s Temple, or
Memphis, South Florida or Central Florida,” sophomore setter Katie George said.
“With those six losses the target on our back didn’t get smaller, it got bigger. And we
have to be prepared for that going into every match.”
Photo Courtesy of Austin Lassell