Sept. 14, 2013
ATLANTA - The UConn women's volleyball team is on the right side of .500 for the first time this year, improving to 5-4 after sweeping St. John's (6-4) by scores of 25-23, 25-23 and 25-20 on Saturday afternoon in the Courtyard Classic at Georgia Tech's O'Keefe Gymnasium.
With the win, UConn improves 12-9 against its old BIG EAST rival St. John's. The Huskies are now 2-0 in the Courtyard Classic, in prime position to take home the tournament title.
Juniors Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) and captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.) led the Connecticut attack for the second straight match, as Ratliff posted 12 kills and Maugle added 11 and five digs. Ratliff connected at a .346 clip, with just three errors on 26 total attacks. Maugle also swung well, hitting .241 on the day.
Sophomore setter Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) had another strong day, posting 36 assists and five digs for the Huskies. Rookie Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) added six kills and 10 digs, while Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) tallied five kills and five total blocks.
Karin Palgutova led all players for St. John's with 17 kills, also adding nine digs. Deniz Mutlugil chipped in 36 assists for the Red Storm, and Shawna-Lei Santos scooped 14 digs.
The first set began tight, with a Ratliff kill giving UConn an early 6-4 lead. Kills from Maugle and Anagu made it 12-11 Huskies, sparking a 9-3 run to put UConn ahead 19-14. The Red Storm battled back to within one at 24-23, before Ratliff sealed the set for the Huskies with another kill.
St. John's came out hot in the second set, leading from the start and going up by five multiple times, including late in the set at 18-13 before a UConn timeout. The stoppage from head coach Holly Strauss-O'Brien turned out to be a good one for the Huskies, as they scored eight of the next 11 points, including three straight via Thomas kills, and tied the set at 21-all.
A strong rally behind the serving of Amy Christensen (Ashburn, Va.) gave UConn a 23-21 lead, but Palgutova posted consecutive kills to tie it back up at 23. A Santos service error before a big block of a Palgutova attack from Prinzbach and Anagu sealed the set for UConn, again 25-23.
The final set began close, but a Prinzbach ace gave Connecticut an 8-6 lead, which they expanded to 11-6 with two Ratliff kills after a Red Storm timeout. After a service ace from Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) made it 13-7, St. John's burned another timeout, but it proved futile. The Huskies got their lead to as many as six in the second set, going up 21-16 with yet another Ratliff kill.
St. John's cobbled together a late rally to get within three at 23-20, but back-to-back attack errors by the Red Storm sealed the 25-20 victory in the set and 3-0 match win for UConn.
The Huskies are back in action tonight, when they take on the host Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the finale of the Courtyard Classic. Match time is set for 7 p.m. a