STORRS, Conn. – The University of Connecticut volleyball team concluded play at the 2015 UConn Invitational after falling to Syracuse 3-1 (32-30, 17-25, 16-25, 18-25) on Saturday afternoon in its home opener at Gampel Pavilion. UConn stands at 1-2, while the Orange improves to 3-0.
Junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) led all Husky players with 13 kills on 34 swings and also scooped nine digs. Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) put together her second consecutive double-digit kill performance with 10.
Sophomores Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) and Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) tallied nine kills apiece. Adeniyi led the squad with a .471 hitting percentage. Freshman Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) dished out team-high 24 assists while junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) added 22 assists.
The crowd was anxious for match and the Huskies put on quite the show in the first set. UConn got on the board first with a kill by Cason but the Orange kept things tight as the two squads traded points to tie the score at 8-8. The Huskies took a 14-10 lead after three straight points, starting with Cason delivering another powerful kill. Rivera followed up with a service ace before Thomas’ kill forced a Syracuse blocking error.
The Orange wouldn’t be denied, eventually knotting the score at 21 apiece. Syracuse was ready to end the set but Strawberry halted their celebration with a clutch kill to keep the Huskies alive and tie things at 24-24. The two teams went point for point and Syracuse capitalized on a Husky attack error and kill from Silvi Uattara for a 30-29 advantage. Strawberry flourished under pressure, delivering two crucial kills to give UConn the first set, 32-30, after 15 tied scores and six lead changes.
The second set got out to much of the same start as the first before the Orange went on a 12-5 run over the Huskies to take a 21-12 lead. UConn tried to stay in the set with three consecutive points off Syracuse errors and a kill by freshman Iman McGary (Rockford, Ill.) to get within five but dropped the set 17-25.
Syracuse used its momentum to take the third set, 25-16, but UConn wasn’t going down without a fight. The Huskies opened the fourth set on a 6-2 run. The Orange battled back to tie the score at 7-7. UConn managed to keep things close, pulling within three thanks to a hard kill by junior Hayley Cmajdalka (College Station, Texas) but still trailed 18-15. Monika Salkute and Uattara strung together points that helped Syracuse secure the lead and set, 25-28.
The Huskies continue their homestand by hosting the Dog Pound Challenge on Sept. 4 & 5. First up, UConn will face Bryant at 12:30 p.m. before gearing up for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with UMBC on Friday. Connecticut will close out the tournament on Saturday with James Madison at 1 p.m.
2015 UConn Invite MVP: Silvi Uattara, Syracuse
2015 UConn Invite All-Tournament Team:
- Gosia Wlaszczuk, Syracuse
- Santita Ebangwese, Syracuse
- Belle Sand, Syracuse
- Callan Kinnan, Rhode Island
- Frankie Darnold, Rhode Island
- Erika Thomas, UConn
- Paola Llerandi, Hartford