Sept. 13, 2013
ATLANTA – Down two sets to none in the opening match of the 2013 Georgia Tech Courtyard Classic, the UConn women’s volleyball team (4-4) staged a huge comeback to secure a five-set victory (22-25, 18-25, 25-17, 25-20, 18-16) over Troy on Friday evening at O’Keefe Gymnasium.
The win marks the first this season for the Huskies not to come in straight sets, and is the fourth five-set match they have participated in. It was the first ever meeting with Troy, who falls to 3-5 on the year with the setback.
UConn got big offensive outputs from its two junior outside hitters, as Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) and captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.) each set new career-bests in kills, tallying 20 and 19, respectively. Both also were extremely efficient on the attack, as Maugle hit .349 (19k-4e-43a) and Ratliff swung at a .314 clip (20k-4e-51a).
Maugle added 13 digs as well, posting her third double-double of the season. Sophomore Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) also doubled up, dishing out a match-best 44 assists and tallying 14 digs. Classmate Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) chipped in nine kills and six block assists, and fellow second-year Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) added five kills, two service aces and three block assists.
Junior captain Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) and classmate Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) combined to scoop 28 digs , while Datti dished out four assists and Esposito notched three service aces. Rookies Sophia Mar (Oakland, Calif.) and Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) also played a role in the win, with Mar notching 10 assists and Strawberry picking up 11 digs and three block assists.
Kayla Pickart and Marija Zelenovic, who posted 15 and 11 kills, respectively, led the Troy offense. Courtney Cohen had a match-high 20 digs for the Trojans, while Alexandra Alexander added 42 assists and 11 digs in the losing effort.
Troy got out to a red-hot start in the first set, going up 9-3 with a Zelenovic kill. The Huskies battled back and eventually tied the set at 16-all, but the Trojans scored the next six points to go up 22-16. Three straight late kills by UConn, including two from Anagu, closed the Huskies to within two at 24-22, but the Trojans were able to hang on and go up 1-0.
The Trojans jumped out ahead quickly again in the second set, with a Darby Griff kill giving them a 4-1 lead before a UConn timeout. The Huskies were able to tie it at six, but a 7-2 run by Troy, capped with a Blair Winston kill, gave the Trojans a five point lead before UConn’s second timeout of the set. A Strawberry and Thomas block cut the lead to three at 13-10, but Connecticut couldn’t close the gap and Troy won the set 25-18.
With the Huskies down two sets, the third game started out extremely close. A Maugle kill and a Trojan attack error gave UConn a 10-7 lead, the first lead of more than one for either side in the frame. Troy came back to tie the contest, and it stayed back-and-forth until a Ratliff kill tied the match at 17, sparking a 3-0 UConn run to give them a lead they would retain for the rest of the set. Three straight kills sealed it for UConn, as Anagu, Ratliff and Anagu again slammed them down, all from Prinzbach assists, to give the Huskies a 25-20 win and some life in the match.
Troy looked determined to close it in four, jumping out to a 5-2 lead in the fourth set before a Husky timeout. The Huskies fought back to tie it at 8-all, then went on an 8-3 run to go ahead 16-11, forcing a Troy timeout after a big Maugle kill. The Trojans scored four straight to close within one after the stop, but after an Anagu kill Ratliff reeled off four straight spikes and the Huskies were able to go up 22-15, closing out the set 25-17 after a Griff error.
With the match now tied 2-2, the fifth set was unbelievably close. A UConn ace gave the Huskies a 3-1 lead, but neither team was able to go up more than two the remainder of the contest. The contest saw ties at nearly every point from eight onward, with UConn turning aside match point serves from Troy at 14-13, 15-14 and 16-15. With the contest tied at 16, the Huskies saw a fitting end, as Ratliff and Maugle slammed down Prinzbach assists for their 20th and 19th kills of the contest to take the fifth, 18-16, and close out the comeback.
UConn is back in action tomorrow afternoon when it takes on St. John’s in round two of the Courtyard Classic. Match time in Atlanta is set for 12 p.m.