Charitie Luper (top photo) and Anna DeBeer led the Cardinals with 14 and 10 kills, respectively (Mike DeZarn photos).

Looked like a long night ahead with the University of Louisville volleyball team falling behind Pittsburgh 5-0 and and then 7-1, in the first set on Friday at the KFC Yum! Center. The worst possible start for the sixth-ranked UofL against ninth-ranked Pitt.

Pittsburgh wanting make up for lost time after losing five of the last six matches against UofL, including the loss of a three-game sweep in the Final Four of the NCAA tournament last season. Total domination coming or just a momentary flash in the pan?  Whatever it was the Cardinals were not throwing the towel.

It would take awhile for Louisville to find its composure in the first set.  UofL would rally to tie the set at 18-18, take a one-point lead and finally win the set 25-21.  With a rowdy crowd of 11,461 behind them, the Cardinals would take the next two sets 25-23 and 25-22.   Any of the three sets could have gone the other way. But the Cardinals found a way each time.

“You can look at the stat sheet and you can point out so many players that had an awesome match,” said UofL Coach Dani Busboom Kelly. “I think this team needed a game like this which is something we can definitely build on.”

It was needed against the highly ranked Panthers. “I am really proud of the effort and the atmosphere tonight.” she added.

The Cards (15-2, 6-1) left little to imagination. Outside hitter Charlitie Luper had 10 kills, nine digs, and two blocks, middle blocker Cara Cresse had 10 kills and a block, opposite hitter Aiko Jones recorded nine kills, four digs, and a block, and middle blocker Phekran Kong  added four kills and four blocks. Setter Elle Glock had 43 assists, six digs, and a block, while libero Elena Scott added two assists and eight digs.

Neither Anna DeBeer, with 14 kills, or Luper, with 10 kills, are tall or big in stature. But they are athletic. “They are like one big muscle,” said Busboom-Kelly.

Pitt (15-3, 6-1) could never get over the hump but stayed within striking distance. “Louisville is a little different this year. I don’t know if maybe they are a little quicker on their slides,” said Pitt Coach Dan Fisher.

Another classic match between two of the ACC’s elite volleyball teams.

Elena Scott receives a commemorative ball from Coach Dani Busboom-Kelly for her 1,000th dig in a recent game (Mike DeZarn photo).
Elena Scott adds to her career 1,000-plus dig total with one of her eight digs for the night (Mike DeZarn photo).
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By Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.

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