A year after one of their best seasons in the history of the program, the Louisville volleyball team has found themselves in the preseason top-25, coming in at 23, according to the AVCA Coaches Poll. Last year had a few firsts for the Cards. By winning the ACC regular season the volleyball team became the first women’s team at U of L to win the ACC. It was also their first ACC championship, two years into the conference.
After losing three seniors and two transfers, all of whom played a vital role in last season’s squad, fans were unsure what to expect for this season. Louisville lost their top outside hitter from last year to graduation, Erin Fairs, who is ow playing professionally overseas. Also, Katie George, who has been a starter since her freshman year, graduated and has now become a news reporter and journalist with WDRB News.
However, knowing that her team needed to be rebuilt, Coach Kordes worked tirelessly with her staff to bring in a promising freshman class and transfers. Freshmen outside hitters Megan Sloan and Melanie McHenry and transfer outside hitter from Belgium Coline Coessens should all present a force on offense. The three outside hitters are all 6’0 or taller, which should help with the height troubles the team has seen in the past.
Freshman middle blocker Piper Roe, who is also over 6’0, should help juniors Tess Clark and Maggie DeJong with creating a wall of blockers at the net.
Another new face to the team is transfer Nikki Koval. Koval spent much of the offseason with the Cards and even traveled with them to Europe, but will be in her first season in the red jersey. As a defensive specialist she should help out the 2016 ACC Rookie of the Year and 2016 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Molly Sauer out in the back row. The big question fans have wondered is who is to take the setter position this season. With three setters listed on the active roster red-shirt sophomore Kali Eaken appears to be the favorite. After transferring in from Kansas State last season, Kali found herself some playing time during the season.
The Cardinals do have a veteran squad returning, featuring three ACC All-Preseason players. Senior outside hitter Janelle Jenkins, Sauer, and Clark join 15 other players around the ACC on the list.
In the ACC preseason poll U of L is projected to finish fourth. North Carolina claimed the top spot, with Florida State and Miami right behind.
Last season the Cards finished 25-7 with a conference record of 18-2. After losing their first two home matches of the season they did not lose at home again until post-season play to Illinois.
Expect U of L to have a similar record, both overall and in conference play. Although the ACC coaches voted the Cards to finish fourth, River City Cards has them in the top two in the conference and a top-20 post-season ranking.
Louisville will have plenty of primetime matches at home this season when they face in-state rival Kentucky on September 15, North Carolina on October 16, Florida State on October 28, and Miami on October 30.
To kick off the season the Cards head up to Bowling Green, Ohio for a small tournament before returning to Louisville to open up the home season against Santa Clara in the Active Ankle Challenge on September 2. Stay updated with Cardinal volleyball on River City Cards or on social media!