LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11)-- Seniors Emily Juhl and Brooke Mattingly had 11 kills apiece but it was not enough as the University of Louisville volleyball team fell 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 in the first round of the NCAA Championship Friday evening in Huff Hall on the campus of the University of Illinois in Champaign.
“We were so excited going into the matchup,” said U of L head coach Anne Kordes. “ We were familiar with Marquette’s fast offense. A lot of credit goes to them because I tell you what, they sped it up. I think the biggest difference was errors on our end. We had seven or eight to their two hitting in the first set. Our service errors made it difficult to gain momentum and string points together. They were siding out really well, so hats off to them. I am proud of our players. I thought we battled and we had some areas of our game that we normally excel at that slipped through the cracks. Maybe it was pressure or momentum. My heart is breaking for my team right now because we thought we were destined to go a little bit further in the tournament. I couldn’t be more proud or appreciative of them and the senior seasons they had. “
It was the first-ever sweep for the Golden Eagles who came into the match with a 27-5 series deficit. MU’s Autumn Bailey and Meghan Niemann each had 13 kills as part of MU’s .305 team hitting. U of L, making its 24th NCAA appearance and third straight under third year coach Anne Kordes, bowed out despite notching six aces and six blocks and setter Katie George had 12 digs and 40 assists for a double-double. U of L hit .225 as a team. The Eagles held second leading scorer and AAC Freshman of the Year to .000 hitting and just six kills.
The Cards played catch-up for much of the first set, leading just once at 3-2. A 4-0 run put Marquette up 11-7 and the Cards couldn’t tie until 23-23. Marquette finished the set with Autumn Bailey and Meghan Niemann each posting five kills. U of L had four kills from Emily Juhl, Maya McClendon and Randi Ewing and had three aces in the loss.
The second set see-sawed with 14 ties and six lead changes. U of L’s hitting percentage moved to .231 but the Cards were aced twice and seemed stymied by the one-two punch of Bailey and Nieman, who combined for nine kills in the second set. The Cards led 21-19 and then let Marquette go on a 6-1 run to fall 25-22 and go down 2-0 in sets at the break.
After the break, Marquette took a 9-5 lead early, but the Cards were able to answer to challenge to tie at nine. But it was a short-lived rally as Marquette exploded for a 9-1 run to go up 18-10 and the Cards had no answer, falling 25-19.
Marquette advances and will play the winner of the Illinois/Morehead State match.