MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Outside hitter Amanda Green had nine kills and two aces but it was not enough as the University of Louisville volleyball team fell 25-21, 25-15, 27-25 to the University of Northern Iowa Friday evening in NCAA first round action in Minneapolis.
ACC Champion Louisville, which finishes its season at 24-7, hit .159 as a team with eight blocks and two aces. UofL got eight kills each from juniors Jasmine Bennett and Amanda Green. Senior Maggie DeJong had six blocks and six kills with setter Wilma Rivera adding 32 assists and nine digs. UNI hit .267 with eight blocks and an ace. The Panthers were led by Piper Thomas' 17 kills and 15 digs. UNI will advance and play the winner of the North Dakota/Minnesota match later this evening, on the campus of the University of Minnesota.
"UNI was a tough draw and we knew that coming in here," said UofL head coach Dani Busboom Kelly. "They are a group that competes really hard and they showed us what kind of competitors they were tonight. Hats off to them as they played a great, great match. We had an awesome year and we are so proud of what we accomplished as a group. It always ends too early but that doesn't take away from what we have done this season."
In the first set, UofL fell behind 6-3 early before tying at 10 on a kill by Jasmine Bennett. Tess Clark had two straight kills to give the Cards their first lead at 11-10 which sparked a 5-1 Cardinal run. After a UNI timeout Cards went up 17-12 on a kill by Amanda Green. The Panthers went on an 11-1 run to go up 24-19 with UofL burning both timeouts trying to quell the momentum. The Cards staved off set point twice before falling 25-21. UofL hit .220 with two blocks and an ace by Amanda Green. UNI hit .263 with two blocks and no aces.
In the second set, UofL lead early 11-9 on two straight kills from Tess Clark. But an 9-1 run put the Cards deep in the hole at 19-12 and they had burned both timeouts. Frigid Cardinal hitting of -.025 put any comeback hopes on ice. UofL scored on two Panther errors and a kill by Amanda Green but were outscored 6-1 down the stretch before falling 25-15.
In the third set, UofL fell behind 2-0 early before senior Maggie DeJong stepped up with a string of four kills and a block to put the Cards up 9-5. The Cardinals used another 4-0 run later to go up 19-15 on a kill by Amanda Green. UNI exploded with a 4-0 run to tie at 20 on a Cardinal hitting error. UofL scored on a Panther miscue and on a kill by Melanie McHenry to go up 22-10. A block by McHenry and Jasmine Bennett put the Cards at 23-20 but a Cardinal service error and a kill by UNI's Piper Thomas brought UNI to within one at 23-22. Jasmine Bennett scored again to give the Cards set point at 24-22 but a service error by Amanda Green and a kill by Thomas tied at 24. Jasmine Bennett scored again to go up 25-24 but a kill by Karlie Taylor and an attack error by the Cardinals gave the set and match to UNI 27-25.
"UNI is a great team but we thought we had them in the third set but we came up a little short. This is the best season I have ever been a part of because of this group of seniors. Words can't describe on how much we will miss them and how much they have meant to the team. It will be so hard to lose them. When they say we do it for the seniors, we really did because they are so precious to us."