The U of L volleyball team finished off the regular season undefeated in American Athletic Conference play, going 18-0 in conference and 23-7 overall. The team now sets their sights on a first round matchup with Marquette in the NCAA Tournament.
Last year the Cardinals went 30-4 on the regular season and went into the tournament with all the confidence in the world, only for a deflating second round departure falling to the University of Michigan.
“We thought we were a Sweet 16 team last year. At the end of September last year we knew we were going to the NCAA Tournament, at the end of September this year we were hoping we were going to be a tournament team. They didn’t like going through that early part of the season getting beat up on,” head coach Anne Kordes said.
The Cardinals started this season 2-6 and clawed their way back to a winning record before coasting through the AAC. As Champions of the AAC and starting the year tough the Cardinals may be able to sneak up on some opponents who otherwise discredit U of L volleyball.
“The best revenge is when a team counts you out and then you come up and beat them,” sophomore setter Katie George said. “I think that we have the ability to do that, not saying that teams should count us out by any means but I think that based on our conference and based on our record they will unconsciously do that and that’s a good thing for us. We need to use that to our advantage and I think we will.”
Although this year’s team may not seem to be the clear cut favorite, the potential to go into the tournament and stir things up a bit is definitely there. If anything was learned from the early tournament loss last year, it’s that everybody is vulnerable.
“Our first round last year we were at home, we had a huge crowd, and we still didn’t dominate. Against Belmont we struggled, we were just a few points away from going to five games and I keep reminding them of that. They thought we were a big bad team last year and we were just a few points from going five, if you get to a fifth game in the NCAA Tournament then its anyone’s game because of the pressure,” Kordes said.
“I said to them, this big bad team that you thought you were last year almost went out in the first round. So, why cant this team be the ones that knock people out, because we are actually really good. We’ve come a long way and I am really proud of them, they are doing a great job.”