by David F.P. [Modest 2008 UConn Volleyball Image Gallery]
STORRS, CT-The Louisville Cardinals arrived in Gampel Pavilion on a Friday night to do battle with the Connecticut Huskies. It was the Big East opener for both teams, and each had been coming off some tough losses in the week before.
Set 1 opened with the team playing fairly even ball for the early points.They reached a 7-7 tie. For Louisville scoring came from Gwen Rucker’s tap over, Lecia Brown’s put over, Brown’s smash through the defense, and a second spike for her, as well as Tatyana Kolesnikova smashing one of the block, and another kill bouncing off the defense outside the lines. Connecticut’s points included Megan Frey’s attack off the block, a Kirk smash, Rebecca Murray hammering one of the block, Murray coming up with a tap over to a gap, and a couple of Louisville errors.
At this point the Cardinals began to pull away with a Rucker attack, Justine Landi with a huge spike which flew off the D and out, and she tapped one over on the ensuing play as well. Connecticut got back on the board with Frey’s one handed put over, but Brown put one over, and Landi had another kill off the Huskies block. It was 8-12, and Connecticut called a time out.
The Huskies found a gap to tap a ball into to put the score at 9-12, but the Cardinals’ Jana Matiasovska hit a spike which popped off the blockers to the floor in an odd fashion.Laura Lamberti and Kirk had two straight smashes to put the score at 11-13, but the Cardinals kept up the pressure picking up another point, Kolesnikova then blocked a shot, Connecticut committed an error, and Kolesnikova again scored with a spike off the defense and out.Murray responded with a smash off the Cardinal blockers touching off a home team come back.Annie Luhrsen had a big blast, then LU committed an error. With the score 14-17, the visitors called a time out.A Louisville miscue off a Luhrsen attack lead the Huskies back within 2, but a serve into the net killed the momentum.Rucker and Renee Tomko then came up with the block, but Connecticut’s Chauntay Mickens slammed a spike off a defensive dig attempt and to the floor.An antenna error gave a point to Louisville though and it was 16-20.
Connecticut would not score again. Matiasovska tapped one over, a great defensive save by Lindsey Mango kept her team alive and Connecticut committed a lift error.A double contact on UC followed, another great Mango defensive save occurred on the next play, and the Huskies hit one into the antenna.A four hit error after that gave the Cardinals a 25th point, 16-25. Louisville 1, Connecticut 0.
Set 2 began with Matiasovska’s block but Frey took advantage of a good set to smash one over.The two sides battled at the net trying to tap a ball over, but Frey won the battle for another Connecticut point.A Cardinals net error handed the Huskies another point, but Matiasovska scored with a thundering slam. She scored again when her attacked ricocheted off the blockers, and Louisville wasn’t done. Brown picked up a block, and Mango scored the ace on her serve when Connecticut misset the return.Lauren Lamberti responded for Connecticut with a spike off the Cardinals and out, but Matiasovska had her own spike in return. The visitors served out of bounds to hand Connecticut another point, and a battle ensued on the next volley back and forth. A great defensive save by Jessica Isaac kept the ball moving and eventually Louisville spiked a shot out of bounds.Matiasovska again scored when she hit a shot to defense’s left corner, but Jordan Kirk responded with a ginormous attack. The score was now tied.
The two teams battled to an 11-11 tie.Cardinal scoring came from Landi and Brown combining on a block, Kolesnikova capitalized on Connecticut setting a ball over by mistake and unleashed the pain, Rucker had a put over, and Tomko and Rucker had a block.Connecticut picked up points off a Murray attack, Luhrsen enjoyed a nice set which she whacked over off the defense, and Mickens fooled the defense with a tap over, which 3 hits couldn’t return.The Huskies took the lead when Lamberti and Frey combined on a block, but the Cardinals swooped back.
Not surprisingly Matiasovska was involved with a big time spike, followed by a huge block.four straight Connecticut attack errors added the Louisville lead and the Huskies called a time out.When play resumed Kirk struck with a kill and it was 13-17.
A home team error put the lead back at 5, but Murray received a good set and pounced for a kill.A Connecticut hit into the net followed though, but Louisville responded with an error of their own.On the following volley, Isaac had another great defensive play, and later teammate Murray unleashed a kill.Brown responded with a huge kill to the defense’s feet, but the Cardinals tried to send an attack crosscourt and it flew out of bounds.Connecticut responded with their own attack out of bounds and it was 17-21.
On the following back and forth, a Cardinal dig sailed back over the net and into the waiting hand of Frey who sent it flying back over for the point.Louisville sent an attack way out of bounds on the following play and Connecticut was within 2.The next play featured Devon Farrell having a good dig and Frey enjoyed another great set which she spiked over.Luhrsen’s serve bounced off the net and into a gap in the defense for the ace, and it was tied 21-21.
Louisville responded with a Kolesnikova and Matiasovska sending a pair of kills off the block.Lamberti picked up a kill in response when the defense misjudged whether their return was going to make it over the net or not.A Connecticut error on the next play put the Cardinals within 1 of the victory though and Matiasovska kept up her scoring when her huge kill ended the set.Louisville 2, Connecticut 0.
Between sets 2 and 3 at a Connecticut game there is always a longer break and the Huskies made the most of it. Whatever Coach Holly Strauss-O’Brien told her team worked splendidly with her team facing elimination.
Landi got the first point of the set for her team with a kill through the blockers, but Kirk responded.Fellow teammate Murray came up with a kill from the net, and the Cardinals spiked an attack out of bounds.Luhrsen smashed one of the defense and Farrell hammered the ball through the blockers.Connecticut scored again, and Murray stuffed a Cardinal attack hard with a block.By the time Tomko faked a set and knocked a ball over it was 7-2 Connecticut.The huskies kept it going with a Farrell spike off the blockers, and the visitors errored on the next play.Time out was called by the Cardinals and the score was 9-2.
Landi came out of the time out with a kill, and Landi and Brown had a block following that to get the deficit back to 5, but Connecticut poked an attack through the blockers, and Farrell unleashed a smash off the block out of bounds.Luhrsen then delivered an ace when her serve landed just in bounds in the defense’s left corner.It was 12-4 Connecticut.
Kolesnikova hit one of the Husky blocks, and a Connecticut error put the lead at 6, but Connecticut had a big time spike in response, and Kirk added to the lead with her kill.Isaac then picked up an ace when her service bounced off the Louisville dig.Two Louisville errors put the Huskies up by 11, 17-6, but Kolesnikova hammered one of the block to get it to 10.A double contact error on LU put the lead back at 11, but Kolesnikova kept fighting back with another attack, though a net violation followed.Landi didn’t give up either and smashed an attack in to bring things to 19-9, but Connecticut responded.Luhrsen took a dig from a teammate and put it over, and on the next play she combined with Kirk on the block. Kirk had also had a great defensive play to keep things alive.It was 21-9 and Louisville called a second time out.
Matiasovska delivered a kill just in bounds, and Brown had a block to get the Cardinals back within10.Luhrsen hammered one from mid court on the next play and it flew off a defensive one handed dig attempt.Murray then served the ball just in bounds for the ace.Matiasovska and Landi put up two big blasts to keep their team alive, but Farrell had a kill her own off a defensive touch to put the Huskies within 1, 24-13.A smash out of bounds by the Huskies kept the set going, but Lamberti ended it with her kill.25-14.
Louisville 2, Connecticut 1.
Set 4 would be an absolute brawl for both teams, and it opened with each team committing an attack error as the teams once again fought to a 7-7 tie.
Louisville’s points came from an Brown spike, an Kolesnikova cross court smash, another Kolesnikova spike this time through the blockers, a Connecticut error, an Maci Wachtel ace when the ball hit the net and barely rolled over to the floor, and an error on the Huskies part. The home team picked up points on a Louisville serve into the net, a Luhrsen tip to a defensive gap, another Louisville error, a Farrell smash off the defense, a Lamberti spike, and two more Cardinal errors.The exchange continued with a Connecticut error, and a Frey and Lamberti coming up with a block which lead to a lift.The Huskies served into the net, but after a set from Luhrsen, Murray came up with an absolute smash in to tie things up 9-9.
Brown dropped a ball in, and Louisville won a battle at the net to take a two point lead. Connecticut called a time out, but the Cardinals kept rolling picking up points off a Landi kill, a big spike from Kolesnikova after getting a good set, and Landi and Rui Liu block, and a Connecticut error.The Huskies did pick up one point on a Cardinals error, but it was now 10-15.
After the two teams traded points it was 11-16, and Connecticut called a time out.When play resumed though, Landi served up an Ace, but a net error by the Cardinals kept the deficit at 5.Kolesnikova knocked an attack into a corner of the defense though, but a serve out of bounds kept the lead at 5.
Liu hit a crosscourt attack, and Tomko hit one of the block to extend the lead to 13-20.It was going to be a tall order for Connecticut to get back into the set, but the Huskies responded.Lamberti picked up a pair of a points with a kill then a tap over. A Louisville error made things 16-20, and Murray delivered another huge smash off a good set to make it 17-20. Just like that the lead was 3 points.The Cardinals called a time out, and came out of the stoppage with a Matiasovska smash.Connecticut hit an attack out of bounds and it was 17-22, and becoming very dangerous for the Huskies.
The Huskies were not done and Kirk unleashed 3 straight kills, to put her team within 2.Louisville called a second time out as the crowd was getting really into the game.On the next play Connecticut hit a backwards set which Murray blasted over, and Lamberti had an ace when her serve was dropped in on a defensive miscue. The score was tied 22-22 and the team and crowd went wild.
Connecticut took the lead on another Murray attack, and following a Lamberti defensive save to keep the ball moving, Louisville committed a double hit error. It was 24-22 Connecticut and set point.The Cardinals were not going to let it happen that way though and Matiasovska slammed a spike over. Two Connecticut attack errors later put the score at 24-25 and Louisville went for set point, only to serve out of bounds. The score was tied again 25-25, but Landi hammered an attack in to regain the advantage.The Cardinals served into the net and it was 26-26.
Connecticut came up with a huge block to take the lead again, but Landi and Liu had a block of their own, despite a great dig by Kate Seabaugh earlier in the play.Liu then took the lead for her team with a put over, but Farrell responded with a kill off the blockers to put it at 28-28.
Luhrsen hammered a rocket over the set for a serve and her teammate Lamberti hit a spike over, but Kolesnikova negated the advantage with her kill. Liu and Tomko combined on a block, and fittingly given the day she was having Matiasovska had the fatal blow off the defense.29-31.
Louisville 3, Connecticut 1 in a battle.
Clearly this was a case where the score wasn’t everything. Throughout the match each side looked to be adjusting to the other’s advantages.Louisville had adapted to some of Connecticut’s attacks, and the Huskies had developed back up plans to deal with the dangerous Cardinals attackers.