Nov. 18, 2011
When Pittsburgh found a way to thwart BIG EAST Player of the Year Lola Arslanbekova, Brooke Mattingly stepped up and had a career-high 15 kills and three blocks to lead the University of Louisville volleyball team to a 3-1 win over the Panthers in the first round of the BIG EAST Tournament Friday afternoon at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, Wis.
"Pitt is a great team and we give them credit for fighting back," said U of L coach Anne Kordes. "We started off on fire and then their defense got them back in the match as Kiesha Leggs, one of the best middles in the country, got hot. We just had to relax and continue to attack. Brooke Mattingly and Emily Juhl were the key to the attack and then libero Caitlin Welch had 24 digs and awesome passing to push the ball up to the setter to be able to run the middle."
Top-seeded U of L will play No. 5 seeded Notre Dame at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday in the Al McGuire Center as the Cardinals work to defend their title of a year ago. The Cardinals move to 22-7 with the 25-13, 25-20, 24-26, 25-20 win. Pitt drops to 18-13.
The Cardinals were outblocked 15-3 but held the best serving team in the conference to just four aces and had 62 kills to Pitt's 38. In all, U of L had three players in double digit kills with Arslanbekova still notching a team high 16 despite having 14 errors on 55 swings, hitting just .036. Cardinal setter Taylor Brauneis had a double-double with a match-high 50 assists and 11 digs to go along with her three aces. Emily Juhl added 14 kills and two aces with Kaitlynn James chipping in 12 kills. Welch had 24 digs. Pittsburgh was led by Jessica Wynn's 12 kills and Kiesha Leggs' 12 blocks.
U of L blew out to a 10-5 lead in the first set and then used a 4-1 run later to go up 18-12 to force a Pitt timeout. The Cardinals increased the run to seven straight to go up 22-13. Brooke Mattingly
had two straight kills to get to set point at 24-13 and then Kaitlynn James
smacked one home for the 25-13 win. The Cards hit a gaudy .500 and were paced by Lola Arslanbekova's
five kills. Pitt hit .200 and it took a toll as it was the fewest points by a Louisville opponent in the tournament since Notre Dame had 13 in the semi-finals of the 2009 tournament.
U of L led 7-3 early in the second set, but the Panthers started blocking and managed to pull within one at 12-11 before Kordes called timeout. Pitt took its first lead at 13-12 on a kill by Kiesha Leggs but the Cards came back, taking the lead at 14-13 on a Brooke Mattingly kill. The Cards got a bit of breathing room with a two point lead at 18-16 which sparked a Pitt timeout. After the break, U of L scored two straight to move to 20-16 and Toby Rens burned his last timeout to try to disrupt the Cardinals' momentum. The ploy worked as the Panthers had a 4-2 run to come within two at 22-20 and spark a Cardinal timeout. Emily Juhl got the first kill after the timeout, Lola snapped another and then Kaitlynn James jousted for the set winner, allowing the Cards to take a 2-0 lead into the break. U of L hitting chilled to .196 but it was enough.
Pitt used a 4-0 run to take a 8-5 lead in the third set before Kordes used a timeout to try to swing momentum. Pitt led 13-9 when Kordes used her last timeout as .111 hitting by the Cardinals was hurting the comeback, especially when Pitt was connecting at a .417 clip. The Cardinals scored eight unanswered points to tie at 22 and then went ahead on a Kaitlynn James kill over an overpass. The two teams tied at 24 before a kill by Mechael Guess took them to set point and then an attack error by James tipped the set to the Panthers 26-24. Pitt outblocked U of L 5-0 in the set, although the Cards had four aces.
In the fourth set U of L managed to take the lead at 7-6 and then held the Panthers at arm's length, building the lead to six at 18-12 before Rens called timeout. U of L continued to spread the margin, going up 22-16, but the Panthers had Arslanbekova's number, blocking her three times to get to 22-19. After Kordes called timeout, Emily Juhl scored and then Pitt was called in the net for set and match point. Arslanbekova missed her serve on the next play before Emily Juhl bounced the set and match winner for the 25-20 win.