Sept. 21, 2013
HANOVER, N.H. – The UConn women’s volleyball team (7-6, 0-0 American) put up a valiant fight and took a set from No. 9 Minnesota (9-1, 0-0 Big Ten), but the Golden Gophers were able to take away a 3-1 victory (23-25, 19-25, 25-16, 21-25) in the Dartmouth Duel on Saturday afternoon at Leede Arena.
Despite the loss, UConn joins No. 19 Kentucky as the only teams to win a set against the Gophers this year. Minnesota moves to 3-0 in the Dartmouth Duel, while UConn falls to 2-1. The Huskies will conclude their run in Hanover this evening when they face Rhode Island at 5 p.m.
The Huskies were led in the loss by juniors Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.) and Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.), who each totaled 14 kills. Ratliff hit .333 in the win, the third straight contest she has eclipsed .300, while Maugle added eight digs. Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) posted seven kills and four total blocks, and Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) chipped in nine kills, five digs and five total blocks.
Defensively, UConn got a match-high 18 digs from junior captain Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.), and nine scoops from classmate Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.). The duo each also notched a pair of service aces. Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) had five kills and three block assists, while fellow sophomore Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) keyed the offense with 41 assists, also grabbing nine digs.
The Golden Gophers got big double-doubles from Tori Dixon (17 kills, 12 digs) and Ashley Wittman (16 kills, 14 digs) in the victory. Alexandra Palmer and Katie Schau dished out 32 and 17 assists, respectively, and Daly Santana posted eight kills, 11 digs and a team-high four total blocks.
Minnesota got out to a strong start in the first set, going up 7-3 after a 6-0 run and forcing an early UConn timeout. The Huskies battled back after the stoppage, pulling within one at 12-11 thanks to a Ratliff and Anagu block. The Gophers got it back to four before another Husky timeout, but UConn pulled back within one and eventually tied the set at 22-all thanks to a Datti service ace. A Ratliff kill tied it again at 23, but two straight for Minnesota sealed the tight set in its favor, 25-23.
A bad set by Palmer gave UConn a 3-1 lead in the earliest stages of the second set, but Minnesota rattled off four straight to go ahead, taking a lead it wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the frame. A Maugle kill cut the lead to two at 13-11, but the Gophers answered with an 8-3 run, stretching their lead to seven, the largest of the match. They kept it around there as the teams traded points the rest of the set, and Minnesota went up 2-0 with a 25-19 victory.
With its back against the wall facing a sweep, UConn came out fast in the second set and jumped out to a 4-0 lead behind the strong serving of Esposito, who picked up a pair of aces in the rally. Minnesota got within one at 5-4, but UConn answered with a 7-2 run, sandwiched between a Gopher timeout. The Huskies got their lead to as many as nine, going up 19-10 after a Minnesota attack error. A service ace got the Gophers within seven and led to a Husky timeout, but a solo block from Thomas closed out the strong set for the Huskies, 25-16.
The fourth set saw multiple ties in the early going, before a 3-0 Minnesota run put it up 8-5 and forced a UConn timeout. The Huskies again battled back, and a Maugle kill tied the set at 10-all. The match stayed close until kills from Dixon and Wittman put the Gophers up 17-14, causing the Huskies to burn another timeout. The Huskies couldn’t get their footing back, and were down 24-18 facing six match points. A rally behind the serving of Strawberry got UConn within three, but Dixon sealed the set and the match for Minnesota with yet another kill.
The Huskies conclude their time at the Dartmouth Duel later today, when they face the Rams of Rhode Island at 5 p.m.