Hall ‘pumped’ for No. 17 Louisville after ‘Nova loss

For the second time this season the Seton Hall volleyball team will be coming into a match following a loss, this time facing the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday.

In their last match, the Pirates fell in five sets to Villanova while Louisville swept the Pittsburgh Panthers on Sunday. Both teams come into this match with nearly identical records as the Pirates are 15-2 overall and 3-1 in the Big East, while Louisville is 14-2 and 3-1 in conference play.

“The loss was maybe a good thing for us,” head coach Allison Yaeger said. “It can point out our weaknesses that we have and that we all have to work on. The kids are really focused especially going into such a tough, hard week- end on the road.”

Along with facing the No. 17 Cardinals, the Hall will play Cincinnati (4-12, 2-2) on the road this weekend.

“Everyone is just super pumped and ready to just give it our all,” senior Olivia Trudeau said. “They are going to be good, but we are a good team as well.”

One of the biggest challenges in facing Louisville is their balance.

As a team, they are tied for first in the Big East with a .256 attack percentage while also having the conference’s best hitter, senior Lola Arslanbekova, averaging 4.81 kills per set, .38 higher than the next best player.

“Our main focus is with their star player Lola (Arslanbekova) and a lot of the things we do revolve around her,” Yaeger said. “They have amazing offense, they put a lot of balls away, but we have good defense and our blocking is only getting better.”

Besides the great attack, the Cardinals have the third best defense, allowing teams to hit only .161 against them, behind the second-place Pirates who allow teams to hit .146. Louisville’s defense adds an extra challenge in they have the conference’s best blocker, senior Gwen Rucker with 1.27 blocks per set.

With the Hall coming off a season-high 42 errors last match against Villanova, the team’s passing can be the factor in get- ting past Rucker.

“A lot depends on our passing,” Yaeger said. “If we can pass well, we can run our offense and be in system and it will just be more confusing for their blockers on the other side.”

Last season when these teams met, the situation was very similar to this matchup. The Pirates entered with a 3-0 conference record, with Louisville at 4-0. However, after the Cardinals won a closely matched first set 27-25, they made easier work of the next two, winning 25-18 and 25-21 to sweep the Hall.

Arslanbekova led the Cardinals’ attack with 21 kills to go along with a .250 attack percent- age. The match is scheduled to start at noon in Louisville’s Cardinal Arena. The Pirates will face Cincinnati on Sunday at 2 p.m.

Stephen Valenti can be reached at Stephen.valenti@student.shu. edu

Author: Staff Writer

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