HANOVER, N.H. – Despite a second double-double performance this season from sophomore Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio), the University of Connecticut volleyball team fell, 3-1 (19-25, 25-11, 22-25, 22-25) to Dartmouth on Sunday afternoon in Hanover, N.H. With the setback, the Huskies drop to 5-3 while the Big Green improves to 2-3.
Cason tallied 15 kills and 13 digs while junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) connected for a career- and match-high 17 kills on 35 attempts for a .371 hitting percentage. Classmate Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) added 24 assists and freshman Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) dished out 17 assists. Senior Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) ended the night with eight kills and three block assists. Freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) collected a team-best 18 digs. Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) tallied three block assists and seven kills.
Anagu and Thomas were named to the All-Tournament Team for their efforts. Anagu finished the weekend with 14 kills, a .355 hitting percentage and eight block assists while Thomas totaled 12 kills, five block assists and a .333 attack percentage.
Both teams kept the score close to start out the first set as they drew even at five apiece after a kill by Cason. The Big Green jumped out to a 13-8 lead but the Huskies posted three straight points in part to a kill and service ace by Strawberry and an attack error by Dartmouth. The home squad took a 19-15 edge to force the Huskies to call for time. Coming back onto the court, UConn tried to get back in the groove but couldn’t stop Dartmouth from claiming the first set, 25-19.
Connecticut was on fire in the second set, moving ahead 8-2 on four kills by four different Husky players and an ace by Rivera, which was enough for the Big Green to ask for a breather. The Huskies came out of the huddle on a mission, going on a 10-3 run polished off with back-to-back slams from Strawberry to charge ahead 18-5. UConn tallied four straight points to earn a set-point chance after Anagu and Cason put the ball down hard and errors by the Big Green. Cason notched the final kill to help her team grab the set, 25-11.
The third set was complete tug-of-war, featuring 11 ties and five lead changes, up until each team knotted the score at 15 points apiece. Backed by a pair of kills from Molly Kornfeind, Dartmouth was able to go up 20-18 before a spike from Cason put the Huskies within one. The Big Green followed up with two kills to earn a Husky whistle for a break. Anagu came out of the intermission and smacked a hard one but UConn still trailed, 22-20. To close out, the squads exchanged four points but a kill from Paige Caridi ended the rally and UConn dropped the set, 22-25.
The Huskies went toe-to-toe to begin the fourth set, locking the tally at 6-6. Dartmouth began to pull away, taking a 13-9 lead that made UConn use a timeout. When they stepped back onto the court, the Huskies powered through with three kills by Strawberry and a service ace from Arundel to grab a 15-13 advantage as the Big Green asked for a rest. Two service aces from Dartmouth’s Zoe Leonard handed the Big Green a one-point lead. From then on, the tournament host didn’t look back, going up 20-17 to force a UConn timeout. It was Dartmouth’s turn to call for time after the two teams exchanged errors, allowing the Huskies to get back within one. The Big Green held onto their lead and the Huskies loss the deciding set, 22-25.
UConn continues its month-long road trip on Friday, Sept. 18 when it visits Cambridge, Mass. for the New England Challenge. The Huskies will face Harvard, Boston College and Northeastern during the two-day tournament.