STORRS, Conn. – Four different Huskies delivered double-digit kills as the University of Connecticut volleyball team claimed a five-set thriller (23-25, 25-18, 24-26, 25-15, 17-15) over Temple in a American Athletic Conference battle on Wednesday night at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. With the win, the Huskies improve to 8-10 (2-5, The American) while the Owls drops to 14-5 (5-2, The American).
Sophomore Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) led the pack with her sixth double-double of the season (16 kills, 13 digs). Junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) scooped 17 digs and laid down 11 kills in for her fifth double-double. Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) had 12 kills and six blocks. Sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) also added 12 kills, which is a career-high. Freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) tallied 15 digs while classmate Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) dished-out 23 assists. Junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) posted a double-double of her own with 29 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) and junior Hayley Cmajdalka notched six blocks apiece.
The Huskies and Owls exchanged points to get the match started until Temple jumped out to a 9-5 lead, making Connecticut spend its first timeout. UConn was able to make up the ground and lock the score at 12 after consecutive errors by the visiting team. A hard spike by Cabel and ball handling error from Temple gave the Huskies a 16-14 edge. The upper hand didn’t last long, as the Owls went ahead again, but UConn knotted the set at 20 after a kill from Thomas. The two squads kept things tight as the Huskies were able to tie the score again at 22-22 thanks to Adeniyi and Thomas joining together for a block. Strawberry inserted a beautiful floater to pull UConn within one but the Huskies dropped the first set, 23-25.
Connecticut went ahead 9-4 early to start the second set and force Temple to the bench. Out of the break, Adeniyi added a kill before Cmajdalka and Cabel stuffed the ball back for the block. Keeping the momentum going, Cason followed up her spike with a service ace to put the Huskies ahead 16-10 as Temple decided to use another timeout. Kills from Strawberry, Cason and Cabel helped UConn to a 20-14 lead. Cmajdalka slapped down a spike and teamed up with Thomas on the next rally for the block. Back-to-back attack errors by the Owls and a kill from Cason gave the Huskies the second set, 25-18.
Temple took an 8-4 advantage in the third set, which was enough for Connecticut to call for time. Strawberry and Cmajdalka tallied consecutive kills but the Huskies still trailed. UConn kept pushing as it strung together four kills, two of which were from Adeniyi, to tie the score at 17 and make the Owls use a timeout. Kills by Cabel and Cmajdalka gave the Huskies a 21-18 edge but Temple quickly tied the set at 21 as UConn headed to the bench. The Owls went up 24-22 but a kill and block from Strawberry locked the score at 24. However, Temple still managed to take the set, 26-24.
The Huskies had a 4-2 edge in the beginning of the fourth set. The lead didn’t last long as Temple made up the difference before going ahead 13-11 and sending UConn to the sideline to regroup. Out of the intermission, Cason laid down spikes to tie the score at 14. Connecticut posted five consecutive points, forcing Temple to call for time as the Huskies grabbed a 17-14 lead. The home team didn’t stop there, going on an 8-1 run to win the set, 25-15.
The deciding fifth set featured nine ties and four lead changes. It started with UConn taking a 3-1 edge until Temple tied the score at 4-4. The Owls would take a two-point lead, which the Huskies would overcome on a kill by Cason and ace from Arundel to lock the set at 8 as Temple spent a timeout. Connecticut pulled ahead on crucial kills from Anagu and two-straight Owl errors. The Huskies had a 12-11 lead and Temple needed another breather. The two squads exchanged points, eventually locking the set at 14-14 on a block by Thomas and Adeniyi. Temple took a one-point advantage but Strawberry caught the back line to tie the score at 15. Back-to-back attack errors by the Owls helped UConn clinch the fifth set, 17-15.
The Huskies are back in action on Friday, Oct. 16 when they welcome East Carolina for a conference match-up at 2 p.m.