TAMPA – The University of Connecticut volleyball team fell to American Athletic Conference rival USF in four sets (23-25, 25-16, 20-25, 16-25) on Sunday afternoon. With the setback, the Huskies drop to 6-7 overall and 0-2 in The American while the Bulls move to 4-10 overall and 1-1 in the conference.
Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) paced the Huskies with 12 kills on a .440 hitting percentage. Junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) just missed out on a double-double with 10 kills and nine digs. Sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) added a career-high 10 kills while senior Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) tallied seven kills. Freshman Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) dished 25 assists and junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) notched 20 assists. Freshman Elizabeth Kline (Pittsburgh, Pa.) posted a career-best 18 digs. Sophomore Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) and freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) finished with 10 and nine digs, respectively.
USF jumped out to an early 3-6 lead but the Huskies rallied to tie the score at 9-9 thanks to kills from Thomas and Strawberry. UConn went up 15-11 on two more points from Strawberry and a kill by Cabel, forcing the Bulls to use their first timeout. Out of the break, two USF errors gave UConn a 17-13 edge but the Bulls were able to close the gap and knot the set at 19. Back-to-back errors made Connecticut call for time. The two teams exchanged points with an USF attack error allowing the Huskies to lock the score at 23-23 as the Bulls used their second timeout. USF came out and took the first set, 25-23.
The second set was all about the Huskies, who went up 4-0 after a service ace by Cason and blocks by Thomas and Anagu. UConn continued to dominate as sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) and Strawberry joined together to deny the Bulls and a kill by Cabel put the Huskies ahead 10-4. USF called for time after kills from Cason and Anagu gave UConn a 13-5 lead. UConn steadily powered on, not letting the Bulls gain any momentum. A kill from Adeniyi provided the Huskies with a set-point opportunity and an attack error by USF gave UConn the set, 25-16.
The Bulls were on a mission in the third set, going on an 8-2 run before UConn used a timeout. After the intermission, the Bulls held on to its lead and two straight Connecticut errors put them ahead 17-8 to force the Huskies to call for their second break. UConn tried to find its footing, closing within four but it wasn’t enough as the UConn dropped the third set, 20-25.
UConn and USF traded points to start the fourth set. USF began to pull away, taking a 9-6 advantage as the Huskies decided they needed a break to regroup. A kill from Turner brought Connecticut within five but still trailed 14-9. Cabel added two kills for the Huskies but it couldn’t slow down the Bulls, who went on to claim the fourth set, 25-16.
The Huskies return to Storrs to host their first conference match of the season against Cincinnati on Friday, Oct. 2 at 7 p.m.