Sat | Sep 23, 2023

Jones, Louisville volleyball take two on the road

Published:Tuesday | September 27, 2022 | 12:08 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer

With Jamaican Aiko Jones doing her part to steady the ship when needed, the University of Louisville rolled past two conference rivals last weekend. Jones served with deadly intent and blocked with purpose as Louisville swept both the University of Miami and Florida State University in their first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) assignments.

Playing at Coral Gables, Miami fought hard, but the Louisville Cardinals ended their ACC winning streak to 30 matches with a 25-12, 26-24, 25-23 triumph. Jones scored with eight kills, an ace and three blocks.

In the first set, Jones served eight times in a row to send her team off to a 9-1 lead.

Two days later in Tallahassee, with the former Wolmerian producing two winning serves in the first set, Louisville went ahead 25-17 and led 11-7 in the second set. Florida State fought back and even edged ahead at 14-13, but soon Louisville were back in control and took this set 25-20.

Continuing to fight, the hosts were 9-6 up in set three. Louisville caught them at 12-12 and after a shrewd timeout by coach Dani Busboom Kelly at 22-21, the Cardinals pulled away to 24-21.

Then with Jones serving at the end, they clinched a 25-17, 25-20, 25-21 sweep. Altogether, the six feet two inches Jamaican contributed six kills, two aces and two blocks.

Louisville played these games without outside hitter Anna deBeer, who is nursing a knee injury. She was replaced by Nena Mbonu, who had 10 kills.

Claire Chaussee led all the Cardinals with 12 kills.

Jones and her teammates will continue their defence of the ACC title as they host Clemson University on Friday. They will face number 13-ranked Georgia Tech University at home on October 2.

Louisville reached the NCAA semi-finals in 2021 and that title is a goal for 2022. Speaking to The Gleaner last week, coach Kelly said, “We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, but we have high goals and we hope we can make another deep run. We realise how fun that was and how exciting it is, and it kind of makes you want more.”

Jones, who played for her country at the 2017 Caribbean Senior Championships, is in her final year at Louisville.