STORRS, Conn. – Despite a third set rally, the University of Connecticut volleyball team fell, 3-1 (19-15, 26-28, 25-23, 21-25), to Memphis on Friday night at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. With the setback, UConn drops to 9-7 (2-3, The American), while the Tigers improve to 14-5 (4-1, The American).
Freshman middle blocker Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) put together a solid performance, connecting eight kills on 17 attempts (.412 hitting percentage) to go along with three block assists. Sophomore setter Rebecca Rivera notched a double-double (19 assists, 10 digs), while senior captain Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) scooped a team-best 27 digs in the loss. Junior middle blocker Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) smashed 10 kills and also was a factor at the net, rejecting four Tiger attacks throughout the match.
UConn jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first set, highlighted by a service ace from Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.), quickly forcing Memphis to burn a timeout. The Tigers responded to the stoppage with a 9-1 run of their own, forcing a Husky timeout trailing 10-7 in the first frame. The set evened after the early runs, and UConn used its second stoppage trailing 21-18. Memphis scored four of the final five points after timeout, taking the first set 25-19.
The Tigers started fast in the second half, taking a 7-2 lead to force a Husky timeout. The Huskies pulled within one after the stop, and to back-to-back Strawberry kills forced a Tiger timeout with the score 13-12. UConn kept the match close until a Rivera ace tied it at 20-all and an Anagu slam gave the Huskies the lead, forcing a Memphis timeout. The set continued beyond the 25-point mark, before Memphis finally closed it out, 28-26, to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set started as a back-and-forth affair, until Memphis used a quick run to take a 15-11 lead and force UConn’s first timeout. A combo block from Maugle and Adeniyi tied the set at 18-all, causing a Memphis stoppage. UConn rode momentum after the breather, moving ahead, 20-18, after a kill from Maugle on an excellent set from senior Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.). The visitors battled back to tie the set at 23 but a Strawberry kill moved the Huskies to within one and a Tiger attack error ended the frame.
Memphis staked itself an early 6-3 edge in the fourth set but the Huskies came roaring back to take a 9-8 lead after two kills from Strawberry and a visitor attack error. The teams traded points as the set moved to 17-all but Memphis finally grabbed a two-point cushion at 21-19 and scored the final three points of the set to win the match, 3-1.
UConn is now 2-2 all-time against Memphis after splitting a home-and-home last year.
Up next, the Huskies host Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon for a 1 p.m. start. It will be the 13th-ever meeting between the two programs after Connecticut swept a pair of matches from their conference rivals in 2013.