The team to experience the most change this season at UofL is volleyball by far. The Cards saw Coach Kordes leave and Coach Busboom Kelly come in. They have also relocated back to Cardinal Arena and have left the KFC Yum! Center seemingly for good.
The volleyball team had a rough season last year, finishing in the bottom half of the ACC and not receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The 2016 season was somewhat of a shock to fans after the 2015 season created an ACC Championship and a round of 32 appearance in the NCAA.
The squad didn't lose too many players from last season: Lyndsay Palmer, Eleni Georgiafandis, and Janelle Jenkins graduated and Morgan Miller and Brianna Lester transferred to be closer to home.
Most of the players who saw ample amount of playing time return this season.
Defense Molly Sauer will be a junior this season and should retain the role of libero. Sauer has earned ACC honors the past two seasons. Joining her will be Gabbie Wiley, a senior defensive specialist, as well as a few incoming players. Alexis Hamilton was the biggest recruit to come in this season. Hamilton and Sauer were defenders together at Assumption.
Setters Kali Eaken is assumed to take in the role again this year after splitting time with Morgan Miller last season. Her competition includes junior transfer Wilma Rivera and freshman Alexia Byrnes.
Offense Tess Clark has received ACC honors every year at Louisville and should have a terrific senior season. Joining her will be Melanie McHenry, one of the top players in the conference, and Jasmine Bennett, whose hits have increasingly become more powerful. They will rotate around with Maggie DeJong, another senior, and redshirt sophomore Amanda Green.
Preview Last season was a fluke year. The team lost a stud in Katie George and saw many players go down with injuries. A healthy, experienced lineup will be able to take on the tough Atlantic Coast Conference and will get to take a stab at a view powerful Big Ten opponents.
The 2017 season won't be a 2015 repeat, but it will be an improvement from 2016. The team may flirt with the Top 25 rankings throughout the season and I fully expect to see them in the NCAA Tournament.
*Note: The ACC does not do a conference tournament for volleyball.
Jared's Prediction @ Wisconsin - Loss vs Minnesota (in Wisconsin) - Loss vs Western Kentucky - Win vs Kent State - Win vs Illinois - Loss vs UC Irvine (in Nevada) - Win vs Weber State (in Nevada) - Win @ UNLV (in Nevada) - Loss @ Kentucky - Loss vs Kennesaw State - Win vs Notre Dame - Win @ North Carolina - Loss vs Florida State - Loss vs Miami - Win @ Virginia Tech - Win @ Virginia - Win vs Clemson - Win vs Georgia Tech - Win @ Miami - Win @ Florida State - Loss @ Notre Dame - Loss vs Pittsburgh - Win @ Wake Forest - Win @ Duke - Loss vs Virginia - Win vs Virginia Tech - Win vs NC State - Win vs North Carolina - Win @ Boston College - Win @ Syracuse - Win
After last year's 12-18 season even a .500 year would be a solid improvement. However, I predict an 19-11 season along with a 15-5 conference record. This team is still rebuilding, but also has some experience and talent on the roster. They will hit a few bumps in the road, but have a chance to make the post-season.
Louisville starts the season in Madison, Wisc., in the ACC/Big Ten match-up in late August before coming home to host the Cardinal Classic the first three days of September.