STORRS, Conn. – Despite a double-double performance from junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) with 14 kills and a career-high 27 digs, the University of Connecticut volleyball team dropped a four-set match to Memphis (23-25, 18-25, 25-23, 17-25) on Sunday afternoon at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies fall to 7-8 (1-3, The American) while the Tigers improve to 11-6 (2-2, The American).
Sophomore Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) tallied a double-double of her own (11 kills, 10 digs). Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) added 13 kills to the mix. Classmate Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) was a force at the net, registering seven block assists. Junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) handed out 29 assists while freshman Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) dished 19 assists. Freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) had 14 digs.
Neither team was able to open up much of an early lead in the first set until a Memphis error and kill by sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) made it 14-13 in favor of the Huskies. Memphis managed to take a 16-14 edge to force UConn to call its first timeout. The Huskies were able to rally after blocks by Anagu and sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) brought UConn within one. The Tigers rattled off three-straight points to make the Huskies head to the bench. Out of the break, Strawberry delivered two kills and Turner laid down a spike to push Memphis to call for time with the scored tied at 23. The Tigers closed out the set, 25-23.
The second set started out much like the first, with both teams remaining locked before UConn took a 9-7 edge on a kill by Cason and blocks from Anagu and Cabel. The lead didn’t last for long as the score was tied four more times until the Tigers strung together five-straight points to go up 19-14 as the Huskies took a moment to regroup. UConn tried to make up the difference but dropped the set, 18-25.
The squads traded points in the third set until Thomas’ spike along with blocks by Anagu and Cason broke the tie for UConn to go ahead 12-10. Errors by Connecticut allowed the Tigers to knot the score again before taking the lead but Cason slapped a hard ball down the line to tie things at 18-18. Memphis followed up the Huskies’ point with an error and decided to use a timeout. The Tigers had three-straight errors for UConn to take a 22-20 lead. Memphis was able to rally and lock the score at 22-22 as the Huskies asked for a break. Strawberry gave Connecticut the set-point opportunity and Thomas sealed the set, 25-23.
The Huskies jumped out to a 4-2 lead after back-to-back kills from Strawberry. Memphis quickly closed the gap to tie the score at 9-9. UConn responded well as Strawberry smashed two-straight shots into the corner and Cason tipped one into no man’s land for a 12-9 upper hand. The Tigers came back with five consecutive points to grab at 14-12 edge. Blocks by Anagu and Cabel got the Huskies within one but couldn’t stop Memphis’ momentum and lost the set, 17-25.
UConn will head out on the road to challenge Tulsa on Friday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m.