The No. 10 Louisville volleyball team rolled to a 25-15, 25-23, 25-17 win over St. John’s on Friday afternoon in the Al McGuire Center. All-BIG EAST First Team selection Gwen Rucker had 13 kills on 15 swings for an .867 hitting percentage. The .867 hitting percentage set a BIG EAST record besting Georgetown's Sara Albert who hit .812 against Seton Hall in 2002. Rucker also had a match-high nine blocks.
Louisville, which tied a season-best with 15 blocks, dominated at the net all afternoon finishing with a 15-3 advantage in blocks and a .407-.200 advantage in hitting percentage.
“Our passing put us in a position to use our middles,” said U of L head coach Anne Kordes. “They filled their lineup and that opened up the slide for us that became lethal. With Brooke Mattingly and Rucker throwing down, that opened everything up for us.”
Two-time BIG EAST Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova added 13 kills while Tanya Lukyanenko added six blocks for the Cardinals who have now won 10 matches in a row for the second time this season. In addition, Louisville has swept its last six opponents.
U of L used .435 hitting and out-blocked the Red Storm 8-0 in the first set, rolling to the 25-15 win. Arslanbekova had four kills and the Cards did not have a single hitting error in the set. The Cardinals hit .440 for the set and held the Red Storm to a .000 mark.
The second set was closely contested with neither team able to gain a foothold of more than a two point lead. U of L had a three-point run to go up 18-16 but St. John’s continued to answer the challenge. But in the end it was the Cardinal seniors taking charge with Rucker scoring four of the last six points and Arslanbekova getting the last two. SJU outside hitter Ashley Boursiquot was almost unstoppable, with five kills on six attacks and no errors. But U of L’s Rucker had nine kills on ten swings with no errors to lead the Cards to the 25-23 win as the Cards took a 2-0 set lead into the break.
Louisville took the lead for good at 4-3 in the third set off of a Karin Palgutova serving error. However, St. John’s would not let the Cardinals gain any momentum until back-to-back kills by Rucker and Lukyanenko opened up a four-point advantage for Louisville at 13-9. The Cardinals held the Red Storm to a .280 hitting percentage in the third set and were able to keep the Red Storm from getting more than two points in a row down the stretch.
Louisville will play Cincinnati, the No. 5 seed, who squeaked by with a five set win over Connecticut earlier today. The match will be at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday.