STORRS, Conn. - Led by a career-high 19 kills from junior middle blocker Immanuella Anagu, the University of Connecticut women's volleyball teamed opened American Athletic Conference play with a 3-0 victory (25-22, 25-18, 25-22) over Temple on Wednesday night at Gampel Pavilion. With the win, the Huskies move to 8-4 overall (1-0 The American), while the Owls drop to 9-4 (0-1 The American).
Connecticut reached eight wins in 12 matches or less for the first time since the 2008 campaign. In addition, the Huskies improve to a stellar 8-2 when winning the first set.
Anagu's 19 kills were the second-most in conference three-set history. The Culver City, Calif. native also delivered a game best .552 hitting percentage. Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) delivered a solid performance, notching nine kills and four block assists. Senior tri-captains Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) and Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) each delivered double-digit dig performances while Rebecca Rivera led the team with 29 assists.
The Owls scored three of the first five points in the opening set, but the Huskies responded with a 10-to-4 run, claiming their first lead after back-to-back kills from Anagu and Thomas. After an ace by Rivera, the Owls whistled for time but could not slow the Husky offensive attack, which opened up a 15-10 lead courtesy of three Temple attack errors. An Anagu slam pushed the Husky edge to seven and Temple was forced to use its second timeout. The visitors pulled within three after a Husky block error and a kill from Jennifer Iacobini. With Maugle serving, the Huskies extended the lead to 24-20 and closed the set with an Anagu kill after a long rally. The Huskies finished the frame hitting .200, while holding a tough Owl offense to just a .027 hitting percentage.
The Huskies got off to a good start in the second frame, grabbing a 7-3 edge. Connecticut scored four straight points with Esposito serving, including a monster combo block from Adeniyi and Thomas. An ace from Amy Christensen (Ashburn, Va.) doubled up the Husky lead at 12-6 before middle blocker Hayley Cmajdalka (College Station, Texas) checked in for the first time since Aug. 30 and promptly registered a kill. Anagu's 11th kill of the match gave the Huskies a 17-10 edge and Adeniyi followed it up with a kill off a free ball. Back-to-back block assists from Thomas and Adeniyi moved the Huskies to within three points of the set victory and the home team closed the frame, 25-18, following an Anagu slam.
The two teams split the first 12 points of the third set before UConn took its first lead of the frame, 8-7, following a Thomas kill. A Cason kill pushed the Connecticut lead to two and drew a quick timeout from the visitor bench. After the breather, the squads traded points until a service error by the Owls moved the score to 19-16. A quick attack and kill from Anagu gave UConn a 21-17 and caused a Temple timeout. The Owls scored three straight points but could not mount the comeback, falling, 25-22, after Thomas delivered the match-sealing kill.
Next up, the Huskies hit the road for a conference battle with East Carolina on Sept. 26. First serve is set for 7 p.m.