Oct. 8, 2013
STORRS, Conn. – In a tight, back-and-forth battle, the UConn women’s volleyball team (9-10, 0-4 The American) picked up its ninth victory of 2013, winning in five sets (25-20, 21-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12) over Sacred Heart (9-8, 3-1 NEC) at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on Tuesday night.
UConn was led by a balanced attack in the win that saw three players notching 10 kills, with Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.), Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) and Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) each hitting the mark. Ratliff also added a career-high five service aces and six total blocks, while Anagu and Thomas added eight and five total blocks, respectively. UConn also got nine kills from Madeline Kuppe (Palo Alto, Calif.) and five from Camille Evans (Chicago, Ill.) while Hayley Cmajdalka picked up four and three total blocks.
Defensively, the Huskies also spread out their digs with Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) and Sophia Mar (Oakland, Calif.) leading the way with 15 and 14, respectively. Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) added five scoops, as did Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio). Prinzbach also paced the offense with a team-high 39 assists.
Sacred Heart got a huge 25-kill, 17-dig double-double from Dianis Mercado, who led all players in both categories. Maarie Zimmeman added 13 kills and nine digs for the Pioneers, while Kiki Robinson posted a 50-assist, 13-dig double double.
The win concludes UConn’s non-conference slate, with the Huskies going 9-6 in the non-league portion of their schedule. The Huskies also swept in-state rivals in 2013, defeating Hartford on Sept. 3 in addition to the SHU win.
UConn got off to an early 4-1 lead in the first set, after a kill from Evans. Sacred Heart was able to pull even at six off a strong kill from Alissa Young. The teams traded points and neither was able to grab an advantage until SHU strung together three in a row to bring the score to 10-8.
The Huskies responded with a 6-4 run that forced SHU to call its first timeout of the match when Anagu and Ratliff teamed up for a fantastic block after a Pioneer error, to give UConn a 14-12 lead. The Huskies took a commanding 22-17 off a Datti ace and eventually won the set, 25-20, off a Pioneer error, earning a 1-0 match lead.
Neither team was able to jump out to an early lead in the second set, but UConn finally took an 8-6 edge after Ratliff and Thomas recorded a block followed up with a Ratliff ace. A 5-0 run by the Pioneers forced a timeout by Connecticut as SHU grabbed an 11-8 advantage. Following the stoppage, the Pioneers again went on a run to move the score to 14-10.
A string of three consecutive points drew the Huskies within one as the Pioneers called their first timeout of the set. After extending their lead to 18-15, the Pioneers committed two straight errors trimming the score to 18-17. UConn tied the score at 21 but Sacred Heart closed out the set, 25-21, evening the match at one apiece.
SHU started quick in the third set, taking a 2-1 lead, but a Husky rally, capped by a Thomas kill and a Ratliff ace propelled the Huskies to an 8-4 advantage and forced a SHU timeout. UConn came out strong after the timeout, taking three straight and forcing another quick timeout by the Pioneers.
SHU took back some of the momentum, putting together a five point run, before UConn used its first timeout of the set. A 6-3 run forced another Connecticut timeout, but the Huskies managed to pull even at 17. Unfortunately for the home team, SHU capped the set on an 8-4 run, finished off by a kill from Mercado as the Pioneers took a 2-1 match lead.
The Huskies took two of the first three points of the fourth set as they tried to force it to five. After SHU brought the score to 3-3, it went on a 4-0 run, completed by a kill from Mercado. UConn used its first timeout of the set when the Pioneers moved their advantage to 9-5. A block by Anagu and Cmajdalka brought the score to 13-13, energizing the Husky bench.
A solo block by Anagu gave the Huskies a 15-14 lead and SHU burned its first timeout of the set. Following the stop, the Pioneers grabbed two straight points and secured a 19-17 lead as UConn used a timeout. A Thomas kill and a pair of Pioneer errors gave UConn a late 22-21 lead and the Huskies finished out the set scoring the final seven points to even the match at 2-2.
Another Ratliff and Thomas combination block gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead in the deciding fifth set. After SHU charged out to a 5-4 lead, a Kuppe kill and a SHU error gave the Huskies a 6-5 edge. Another error by the Pioneers led to a timeout as the Huskies pulled closer to victory. With the score even a nine, Connecticut took its first timeout of the set and promptly gained a 12-10 advantage. Holding a 14-12 lead, the Huskies closed out the set in style, as Ratcliff secured the victory with her fifth ace of the match.
The Huskies are back in action this Friday, October 11th against conference foe Rutgers at Gampel Pavilion at 7 p.m.