By Dristant Pokharel
A record 12,760 fans filled the KFC Yum! Center Sept. 13 to witness U of L volleyball’s dominating performance against in-state rival University of Kentucky. They won the “Battle of the Bluegrass,” extending their season record to 9-0.
The No. 2 ranked Cardinals delivered a scintillating display against the No. 21 ranked Wildcats, in part due to junior outside hitter Charitie Luper. The UCLA transfer racked up 13 kills as middle blocker Phekran Kong put forth a commendable five blocks.
The team recorded a straight-set victory, scoring 25-19, 25-23, and 25-18. In the final set, defensive specialist Kamden Schrand and setter Elle Glock each delivered two aces, with Luper capping off the match with a service ace.
Athletic Director Josh Heird commended the culture fostered by head coach Dani Busboom Kelly, stating, “Her ability to unite a group of people and ensure that they’re all rowing in the same direction at the same time — that’s not easy. But she somehow manages to do it every year.”
The Cardinals’ commanding victory marked a significant milestone for a program as Kelly enters her seventh year as head coach.
Charitie Luper was elated at the energy of the colossal crowd at the arena, stating, “It was jumpin’. I can’t even describe my emotions; it was just so surreal. It was amazing seeing the smoke, the fans, the red lights. It was everything I could have ever dreamed of, for real.” Card Nation painted the arena red creating an unforgettable atmosphere.
When asked about the record attendance, Coach Kelly replied “It means a lot to this program, the staff, the university, and, most importantly, our athletes when they get to come out here and put on a show for so many people and just enjoy it.”
“They’re, like, one of the most appreciative bunches in the country, so I know they were loving every minute of it,” she added.
Busboom Kelly also challenged the Card Nation, encouraging them to attend between 5,000 and 10,000 fans at every game hosted at the KFC Yum! Center. She firmly believes it’s an achievable goal.
The Louisville Cardinals are next up against Stanford, a top-5 matchup at the Yum! Center on Sunday at 1 P.M.