new coach, new arena, and new players face volleyball
When Anne Kordes announced she would be resigning following the conclusion of the 2016 season Tom Jurich had a project- find a new coach for the Louisville volleyball team. During her six year term has head coach the Cards were 129-61 (.679) and had won four conference championships.
After a few months of searching, Dani Busboom Kelly was chosen to be Kordes' successor. Once an assistant coach at UofL, Busboom Kelly also spent time as a player and coach in Nebraska, winning national championships as both. She is a nationally recognized coach and has led numerous teams to NCAA tournament appearances.
Busboom Kelly brings in a whole new lineup of coaches. Dan Meske, associate head coach, spent time as a Nebraska assistant before taking the head coach position at Augustana. Meske turned the Vikings' program around. In Nebraska, Meske oversaw the formation of the sand volleyball program.
Kolby O'Donnell is an assistant coach from UC Santa Barbara brought in as the other coach on UofL's squad. O'Donnell is well-known for his recruiting skills as well as mastering the blocking aspect of the game. He will spend a majority of his time working with the outside hitters and middle blockers on the front line.
Jasmine Brown joins the Cards as a volunteer assistant and Brooke Betts comes in as a graduate manager. Sarah Drury Petkovic is a familiar face in the office as she enters her fifth season as the director of operations for volleyball.
Six of the 16 players on the roster are in their first season. Alexia Byrnes, Natalie Palastro, Akela Yuhl, and Alexis Hamilton are all freshmen, while Amanda Green (redshirt sophomore) and Wilma Rivera (junior) transferred in. Hamilton has made an immediate impact on defense while Rivera has won the starting setter position is the top server on the team.
Besides quickly changing the coaching staff and bringing in new faces on the court Coach Busboom Kelly had one other request- move back to Cardinal Arena. Fans became familiar with volleyball playing at the KFC Yum! Center. The arena was one of the best venues in NCAA volleyball, but was too big. A 22,000 seat arena saw about 1,000 fans per game. Cardinal Arena, however, was too small, seating 840. A complete renovation occurred over the summer. The newly renovated arena now seats about 1,000 people, plus has space for standing room.
This season will be a test for volleyball. The season started against three ranked opponents, followed by two teams receiving votes. The Cards went 2-3 during those matchup's but were in every single one. Despite the losses this team shows heart and fight, and they could potentially go far this season.
They face solid opposition in the UNLV Challenge this weekend, then visit Kentucky before starting ACC play.