CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The University of Connecticut volleyball team split a pair against Boston College and Northeastern on Saturday at the New England Challenge tournament, hosted by Harvard. The Huskies are now 6-5 while BC moves to 7-4 and NU drops to 3-12.
Junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) was named to the All-Tournament team after she notched 26 kills, 21 digs and five service aces on the weekend.
Match 1 vs. Boston College
Sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) paced the Huskies and tied her career-high with seven kills off the bench in UConn’s three-set loss to Boston College (18-25, 22-25, 15-25) on Saturday morning.
Strawberry and senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) tallied six kills apiece while freshman Iman McGary (Rockford, Ill.) added five. Classmate Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) had 12 assists and junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) finished with nine assists. Freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) notched nine digs in the early outing.
Boston College got out to a 4-1 lead in the first set due to attack errors on UConn. A service error by the Eagles brought the Huskies within two. Connecticut strung together three-straight points thanks to kills and an ace from Strawberry but still trailed 6-12. The Huskies went on a 12-6 run to pull within four at 14-18, effectively forcing the Eagles to call the first timeout of the match. Back-to-back attack errors by BC brought the score to 19-16 with UConn fighting to lock things up. A kill from McGary and errors from the Eagles started to close the gap but it wasn’t enough to halt BC, who took the set, 25-18.
UConn posted points quickly to take a 2-0 edge early in the second set after Strawberry and Thomas laid down hard spikes. The Eagles knotted the set at 3-3 before kills from Strawberry and sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) put the Huskies up 7-4. BC notched four consecutive points to go ahead 8-7 and force UConn to call for time. Cabel punched the ball down and the Eagles tallied errors to help the Huskies tie the set at 10-10. BC added three points to take the lead again but a kill from Thomas brought UConn within one at 13-14. The Huskies managed to stay within one as the squads exchanged points but UConn decided it needed to regroup after consecutive blocking errors that put BC up 20-17. The Eagles were forced to the bench after a kill from Thomas and ace from Anagu. Strawberry’s kill pulled the Huskies in close at 21-22 but it wasn’t enough as UConn dropped the set, 22-25.
The Eagles held a 5-3 edge to open the third set. UConn needed its first breather after BC went on a 5-3 run to take a 10-6 lead. Rivera’s ace got the Huskies within one but BC pulled away with a 15-10 advantage. Three kills by Cabel helped bring the score to 20-15 with the Eagles leading but the Huskies wouldn’t get any closer, falling 15-25.
Match 2 vs. Northeastern
McGary notched a career-high 15 kills on a .448 hitting percentage to lead UConn’s sweep of Northeastern (25-21, 25-21, 25-16) Saturday afternoon in its final match of the New England Challenge in Cambridge, Mass.
Strawberry notched her fourth game reaching double-digit kills (11) along with six digs. Anagu tallied eight kills on 11 attempts for a .636 attack percentage. Adeniyi added four block assists while Rivera dished 21 assists. Arundel grabbed eight digs and Turner had 16 assists and three service aces.
As a team, UConn averaged a season-best .389 hitting percentage.
A varied collection of errors by Northeastern and a kill from Anagu helped put the Huskies out in front 5-2 early in the first set. Turner delivered a beautiful ace which Strawberry followed up with a powerful kill to take a 9-4 advantage. Cabel and Adeniyi joined forces as they stuffed the ball at the net en route to UConn taking an 11-5 lead. NU battled back to within one after three-straight points but a kill by Anagu and blocks from Adeniyi and Strawberry held off the attack. NU used its first timeout of the match after a hard spike by Strawberry gave UConn a 20-17 edge. The Huskies posted back-to-back blocks after Cabel and Adeniyi gave a repeat performance at the net before Anagu and McGary combined for the rejection, putting UConn ahead 23-19. The Huskies claimed the first set, 25-21.
UConn opened up the second set with a 6-3 run but NU was quick to tie the score at 7-7. The Huskies responded well, posting three-straight points thanks to consecutive kills from McGary and a blazing spike by Anagu to give UConn a 10-7 lead. NU kept trying to close the gap but kills from Strawberry and Cabel along with juniors Hayley Cmajdalka (College Station, Texas) and Camille Evans (Chicago, Ill.) increased the lead to 14-11. NU called for time after Strawberry caught the line for an UConn point to go ahead 19-15. A kill from Rivera and a beautiful ace by Strawberry forced NU to take its second breather while UConn held a 22-18 advantage. Out of the intermission, McGary delivered two-straight kills to give the Huskies a set-point opportunity before closing out the set for UConn, 25-21.
Consecutive errors and two consecutive kills from McGary gave UConn a 4-1 advantage to start the third set. Strawberry put down two kills of her own for an 8-3 lead. NU couldn’t handle the 11-4 run the Huskies were on and called for time. After the breather, Anagu and McGary laid down strong hits to push the Huskies towards a 16-7 lead. With Strawberry for the kill and Turner on the ace, NU needed to take its second timeout of the set while UConn was up 19-11. Cmajdalka’s kill gave the Huskies the chance at a match-point followed by a NU service error to hand UConn the set, 25-16.
The Huskies will open conference play when it travels to Orlando, Fla. to face UCF on Friday, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.