By Jason Krell
The Cards began NCAA tournament play on Friday, December 2nd where they squared off against Samford and walked out of L&N Federal Credit Union Arena with a 3-0 sweep. Senior Aiko Jones led all Cardinals with 11 kills and hitting an impressive .558.
Head coach Dani Busboom Kelly added after the match, “When you play in the NCAA Tournament, there can be nerves and a lot of distractions. But we were really focused and played very clean from point one.” Louisville controlled the match from the beginning not letting Samford lead once. They won each set 25-9, 25-13, 25-12.
Just 23 hours later, The Cards were back in action against a very solid Purdue team who was 21-11 on the year. Louisville’s Claire Chaussee led the way with 12 kills and fellow teammate Amaya Tillman was right behind registering 11. Graduate transfer Raquel Lazaro finished with a match-high 39 assists as well.
The Cards were faced with a more competitive opponent but did not phase them as they recorded their 20th sweep of the season over #19 Purdue. A box score of 25-19, 25-21, and 25-23 was enough to secure them a spot in the Sweet Sixteen.
Post Season Accolades
Louisville racked up a handful of regional awards after their handling of Samford and Purdue. Claire Chaussee took home the AVCA East Region Player of the Year while head coach Dani Busboom Kelly was awarded the Region Coach of the Year. Additionally, the Cards earned five AVCA East All-Region honors and were awarded to Aiko Jones, Amaya Tillman, Claire Chaussee, Elena Scott, and Raquel Lazaro.
The Cards will face off against #17 Baylor on Thursday, December 8th at the KFC Yum! Center. This will be Louisville’s fourth consecutive Sweet Sixteen trip and its eighth in program history. Likewise, this will also be the Bears’ fourth consecutive Sweet Sixteen trip after they defeated in-state rivals Stephen F. Austin and Rice.
The winner of Thursday’s contest will take on the winner of #7 Nebraska and #9 Oregon on December 10th at 4 pm.
Photo Courtesy// Matthew Mueller, The Louisville Cardinal //