NEW ORLEANS – Despite a valiant fourth-set rally, the University of Connecticut volleyball team was unable to complete the comeback, falling to conference foe Tulane, 3-2 (16-25, 25-19, 18-25, 26-24, 13-15), on Friday night at Devlin Fieldhouse. With the loss, UConn stands at 9-9 (2-5, The American), while the Green Wave improve to 5-14 (3-4, The American).
Senior tri-captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) led all players with 18 kills on 49 swings and also scooped 12 digs. Sophomore Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) put together a nine-kill, nine-dig performance, while Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) hit .286 with 12 kills and four block assists. Senior Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) dished out a team-best 25 assists, while captain Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) registered a team-leading 20 digs.
Tulane came out firing in the first set, scoring seven of the first eight points and forcing UConn into an early timeout. The Green Wave kept up their attack following the breather, pushing their advantage to 10-1 before the Huskies strung together four straight points, aided by two kills from Maugle. After the Huskies pulled to within five, Tulane took advantage of a Husky set error and moved ahead 18-9. Connecticut made a late run, led by a Rebecca Rivera service ace and an Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) kill, but the Green Wave lead proved too much as the home team took the set, 25-16.
The Green Wave earned an early 5-3 edge in the second but three consecutive kills by Maugle followed by a slam from Anagu drew a Tulane whistle. Strawberry gave the Huskies a three-point cushion with an ace and UConn opened up a five-point lead after a Hayley Cmajdalka slam. Two consecutive Husky errors moved the Green Wave to within four but a Thomas kill and a second Strawberry ace sealed the set win for UConn.
Tulane wasted no time in the third set, moving ahead, 7-1, before UConn called for time. A combo block from Anagu and Thomas pulled UConn within five but the Huskies couldn’t gain any momentum as the home team emerged with a 25-18 set win.
The fourth set started out tight with Tulane grabbing a slim 8-6 lead before two Husky attack errors pushed the edge to five. With UConn trailing 16-10, Maugle rose to the occasion, slamming down two kills to draw the Huskies within two. The Green Wave grabbed a 24-21 lead but Connecticut came roaring back, scoring the final five points of the set, headlined by three Thomas kills, to win, 26-24.
The two squads traded the first 24 points of the decisive fifth set, 12-12. The Huskies moved ahead 13-12 but Tulane answered with three straight points to seal the set and win the match, 3-2.
The Huskies will head to Houston, Texas to take on the Cougars on Sunday, Oct. 19. First serve is set for 2 p.m.
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