University of Louisville volleyball coach Anne Kordes has the Cardinals rolling, winning nine straight matches heading into Big East Conference play.
The Cardinals are one of the hottest teams in the country, going from unranked to the No. 10 team in the country after just a month of play.
"It's been a great start," Kordes said. "These kids are digging deep and they are competing at a high level. Now we can't take anyone lightly."
The Cards will take on DePaul on Friday and then face Notre Dame on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center. U of L was the preseason pick to win the conference.
Kordes said the early-season run started in the offseason.
In her second year as the coach at U of L, Kordes saw a commitment in the offseason by her players. She said they were playing all the time, including even in sand and other type leagues on their own.
"One thing that is not measureable is the commitment level, the chemistry and culture of the team," Kordes said. "What's new is the culture and the attitude. With that comes the standard of effort and accountability.
"Because of the culture change, everybody worked so hard in the summer that when you looked at us compared to other teams, we don't look like we're in the first two or three week form. We look like we're in midseason form."
Kordes also scheduled tougher this season.
She told her team they had five matches that would boost their RPI – Penn State, Kentucky, Purdue, Illinois and Texas – and the goal was to win two. The Cardinals beat UK, Purdue and Illinois and lost to Penn State. They play Texas next month.
And the UK game started the run.
After losing to No. 4 Penn State, the Cardinals knocked off them top-10 UK on a night before a record crowd and a lot of intensity at the Yum Center.
"Everything was served up for a perfect night there," Kordes said. "That was really when things started to click for us. We still have a long way to go and we still have a tough stretch or two coming up. But it's a good start."
And the start has been huge for the program.
Kordes said it's "really, really helped" recruiting efforts since the team has entered the top 25 and continued to rise.
"Now, we just need to keep going," Kordes said.