Sep 7, 2013
STORRS, Conn. -- In a five-set epic, the UConn women’s volleyball team was defeated by the Pittsburgh Panthers (25-20, 17-25, 16-25, 25-23, 9-15) in the finale of the 2013 UConn Classic on Saturday night at Gampel Pavilion. The Panthers claimed the tournament crown with a perfect 3-0 record, while the Huskies finished in third place by finishing 1-2. Northeastern placed second by going 2-1, while Albany rounded out the group in fourth after finishing 0-3.
The loss drops UConn to 3-4 on the year, while Pitt moves to 5-2 after its perfect weekend. Connecticut falls to 9-17 all-time against Pittsburgh.
The Huskies were led in the loss by a 13-kill, five dig performance from junior captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.), one of two Huskies to earn All-Tournament honors. Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) joined Maugle in double figures with 12 kills, while Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) anchored the offense by tallying 31 assists. Prinzbach also added three kills on three swings, chipping in a service ace, four digs and two block assists as well.
Defensively, junior captain Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) posted a match-high 20 digs, joining Maugle on the All-Tournament squad. Jade Strawberry also tallied 10 digs to go with six kills, and Courtney Crosby (Los Alamitos, Calif.) scooped five along with three service aces. Imanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) led UConn with five total blocks, one solo and four assists, while Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) swatted four block assists and six kills.
Pitt was led by Tournament MVP Kate Yeazel’s 17 kills, which she tallied on 33 attacks with four errors for a .394 hitting percentage. As a team, the Panthers hit .319 in the contest. Jessica Wynn (15 kills) and Delaney Clesen (20 digs, three assists) joined Yeazel on the All-Tournament team for the Panthers.
UConn got off to a strong start in the first set, scoring the first three points of the frame. Pittsburgh quickly battled back to tie, but UConn jumped ahead at 6-5 thanks to a Strawberry kill. That sparked a 9-2 run for the Huskies, giving them a 14-7 advantage and leading to a pair of Pittsburgh timeouts.
The Panthers battled back to within three at 17-14, but after a UConn timeout with the Huskies up four, Connecticut retook control. Two Maugle kills got the lead back to six at 22-16, and a Ratliff kill before a Pitt service error closed the set for the Huskies, 25-20.
Pitt took an early 4-2 lead in the second set, before UConn battled back to keep it tied until 8-8. From there, the Panthers scored four in a row to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the set. Pitt went up by as many as seven, and took the set 25-17 thanks to a service ace from Jessica Boddy.
The third set was all Panthers, as Pitt jumped out to a 12-5 lead and never allowed Connecticut to mount much offense. A Thomas kill sparked a Husky run that eventually got them within five at 18-13, but Pitt then scored five of the next six to go up 23-15. Kills from Maugle and Ratliff got it back to seven, before Pitt scored the last two of the set to take it, 25-16.
A Prinzbach kill gave UConn a 3-0 lead early in the fourth set, and an attack error by the Panthers made it 7-4 Connecticut before a timeout. Pitt was forced to burn another when Crosby fluttered in back-to-back aces, putting UConn up 13-7. The Panthers got it to two at 13-11, and the lead stayed in that area until Thomas put the Huskies up 20-16 with a kill.
Pitt wasn’t going anywhere, however, as they fought back to eventually tie the set at 23-all. Undeterred, UConn was able to grab the last two points of the set, winning it 25-23 with another Prinzbach kill, her third of the set.
The fifth set started close, with Pitt going up 6-5 before a UConn timeout. The Huskies tied it back up at six, but Pitt responded with three straight go up 9-6 and force another Connecticut timeout. The Huskies got it back to two at 11-9, but the Panthers closed the set on a 4-0 run, capped by a kill from Wynn, to seal the victory and the tournament.
Kate Yeazel - Pitt (MVP)
Jessica Wynn - Pitt
Delaney Clesen - Pitt
Hanna Gibeau - Northeastern
Natalia Skiba - Northeastern
Devon Maugle - UConn
Brianna Datti - UConn
Order of finish:
1. Pittsburgh (3-0)
2. Northeastern (2-1)
3. UConn (1-2)
4. Albany (0-3)
UConn is back in action next weekend when it travels to Atlanta, Ga. to take part in the Courtyard Classic. Connecticut joins a field that includes Troy, St. John’s and host Georgia Tech. The Huskies’ first contest in tournament play is Friday, Sept. 13 when they battle Troy at 4:30 p.m.