Aug 30, 2013
FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- The UConn women's volleyball team (0-1) dropped a five-set barn burner (19-25, 25-19, 27-25, 18-25, 15-17) to Southern Illinois (1-0) on Friday evening in the opening match of the IPFW Invitational. The contest was the first of the season for both squads.
With the loss, UConn falls to 22-16 all-time in season openers, including a 5-4 mark under Holly Strauss-O'Brien. The Huskies also lost their opener last season at Loyola Marymount.
Connecticut was led by a balanced attack that saw four players reach double figures in kills. Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) led the way with 15, while Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) added 13. Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) and Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) joined them in double digits with 11 kills apiece, and captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.) added nine.
Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) dished out 55 assists to lead the Huskies, three shy of her career-high. Captain and libero Brianna Datti led the way defensively with 20 digs, while Maugle added 14 and Strawberry secured 12 to notch a double-double. Thomas notched four total blocks, including two solo, while Strawberry added four block assists.
The first set was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team finding room to take more than a two-point lead. Thomas and Ratliff each notched a pair of early kills, before Maugle picked up her first of the season to give UConn a 9-8 lead. SIU finally grabbed a three-point lead at 14-11, forcing a UConn timeout midway through the opening frame.
SIU pushed its lead to four, but three straight points cut the deficit to 16-15 and forced a Saluki timeout. UConn was able to push its run to five before tying the set at 17-all, but SIU responded with the final six points of the set to take it 25-19.
As she did in the first set, Anagu started the second off with a kill for the Huskies. Back-to-back kills from Strawberry saw UConn take an early 5-3 lead, before SIU took an 8-6 lead after a Husky timeout. Connecticut reeled off four straight to jump back ahead and force SIU to use a timeout of its own.
The Huskies pushed their lead to five, largest of the set, at 15-10 before another Saluki timeout. The Huskies stretched their lead to six before three straight from SIU caused a timeout with Connecticut leading 17-14. A Ratliff kill out of the stoppage set the tone for the rest of the set, as the Huskies went on a 5-1 run before closing out the set, 25-19, and evening the match at 1-1.
Three early kills from Ratliff helped the Huskies open up a 7-4 lead in the third set. The Salukis rallied with four straight points to move ahead by one and force a UConn timeout. Two kills from Anagu and another from Maugle gave UConn a two-point lead, but SIU hung around and didn't let Connecticut pull away.
Neither team took more than a one-point lead for most of the third set, before Thomas and Ratliff blocked an Elly Braaten attack to give UConn a 21-19 lead and force an SIU timeout. Another Thomas block pushed the UConn lead to three, but two straight from SIU forced a Strauss-O'Brien timeout. The set continued to teeter late, before UConn pulled out the 27-25 victory with three straight kills from Strawberry, Anagu and Maugle.
Four straight points to open the set gave SIU an early lead and forced a quick UConn timeout. Overall, the Salukis scored 14 of the first 17 points in the fourth set to post the first double-digit lead of the match. A pair of late UConn runs forced SIU to burn two timeouts, but the Salukis held on and took the set, 25-18, and forced the decisive fifth set.
Southern Illinois scored the first two points of the fifth, before a Thomas kill got the Huskies on the board. The set remained close early, but a kill from Maugle and a pair from Anagu gave UConn a 7-4 lead and forced an SIU timeout. Two straight attacking errors for the Salukis after the stop pushed the Husky lead to five, forcing another timeout. SIU responded with a 6-0 run to jump ahead 10-9, leading to a Connecticut timeout.
Another Anagu kill, her third of the set, tied it back up after the stop, and UConn regained the lead at 12-11 following an SIU attack error. Strawberry stretched the lead to two, before SIU tied it right back up at 13-all. The match saw ties again at 14-14 and 15-15, before SIU final capped its comeback to take the match, winning the fifth set 17-15.
UConn returns to the floor tomorrow morning when it takes on Duquesne in its second match of the IPFW Invitational. The contest begins at 11 a.m., and the Huskies face host IPFW in the tournament finale at 7:30 p.m.