Dec. 3, 2010

Courtesy of Louisville Athletics

Sophomore Lola Arslanbekova had 17 kills to lead the University of Louisville volleyball team to its first-round NCAA Tournament win in five seasons as the Cardinals made quick work of Middle Tennessee (29-6) during a 25-22, 25-21, 25-17 sweep of the Blue Raiders Friday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind. on the campus of Purdue.

"It feels so good to finally break the trend and make it past the first round. We are taking it one set at a time and one match at a time. We are enjoying every minute of the ride," said U of L senior Amanda Simmons, whose team notched the first sweep for the Cardinals in the NCAA Tournament since they swept Maryland in the second-round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament en route to the Sweet Sixteen.

Sophomore outside hitter Lola Arslanbekova led the offensive attack for the Cardinals (23-7) with 17 kills while posting a .381 hitting percentage. As a team, the Cardinals hit .293. Arslanbekova tied her career-high with two solo blocks, which she previously achieved against Illinois during the 2009 campaign.

"I just tried to go out there and do what coach told me to do," said Arslanbekova.

The twin towers on the block, Amanda Simmons and Gwen Rucker, controlled the net all afternoon for Louisville, combining for four solo blocks and five block assists. They also had five and six kills respectively. As a team, Louisville outblocked Middle Tennessee 11-3.

Louisville's back row turned in one of their strongest performances of the season. Freshman libero Cailtin Welch recorded her 441st dig of the season during the third set, passing Lindsey Mango's 2007 -mark for most digs by a freshman in school history. Welch, who had a match-high 11 digs, currently holds the fifth-highest total in school history for digs in a season. Senior Lindsey Mango and junior Maci Wachtel added eight digs each for the Cardinals. Freshman setter Taylor Brauneis had a match-high 36 assists.