NEW ORLEANS – The University of Connecticut volleyball team pulled out a thrilling five-set victory (26-24, 20-25, 17-25, 25-20, 15-13) over Tulane on Sunday afternoon in an American Athletic Conference outing at Devlin Fieldhouse. With the win, the Huskies improve to 14-11 (8-6, The American) while the Green Wave drops to 8-17 (3-11, The American).
Junior Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) posted her 10th double-double of the season with 13 kills and 15 digs. Senior Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) added 12 kills and six block assists. Classmate and captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) also had six block assists along with seven kills. Junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) passed out a team-high 21 assists and freshman Emma Turner (Winter Park, Fla.) earned 15 helpers. Sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) tallied nine kills on the afternoon. Freshman Iman McGary (Rockford, Ill.) registered a career-high nine digs along with six kills.
The Huskies started the first set with a bang as Anagu and sophomore Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) got the block, but Tulane went on a 11-5 run to force the Huskies to call the first timeout of the match. UConn put together four-straight points, which included two blocks by sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.) and a service ace from McGary. The change in moment sent the Green Wave to the bench with the score at 17-14 in their favor. Tulane responded well out of the break, going up 22-18 and this time the Huskies burned a timeout. Two kills by Cabel and blocks from Thomas and Anagu helped UConn tie the set at 23-23. Spikes by Cason and Thomas gave the Huskies a 25-24 lead as Tulane spent its final timeout. Thomas and Anagu got together again at the net for the block to take the first set, 26-24.
A 6-0 run for Tulane to begin the second set sent the Huskies to the bench early. Refusing to be deterred, the Huskies managed to pull within one off kills by Adeniyi and Cason along with an ace by Strawberry, making the Green Wave call for time. Three UConn kills and two Tulane errors would lock the score at 17. Tulane went up by two but the Huskies closed the deficit again after a kill from Anagu and another McGary ace. However, it wasn’t enough as the Huskies would drop the set, 20-25.
Both team exchanged blows in the first half of the third set until UConn got out to a 15-12 lead and Tulane decided it needed to head to the sideline. Four Husky attack errors allowed the Green Wave to take an 18-15 edge and UConn used its own timeout. The Huskies were able to get as close as two, with Tulane up 19-17, but wouldn’t score for the rest of the set as they fell, 17-25.
The fourth set featured 10 tie scores and four lead changes. It was a back-and-forth battle to get things started, with the score eventually knotting at 9-9 thanks to kills by Anagu and Strawberry. The two teams would lock the score three more times before the Green Wave had an 18-15 advantage and the Huskies called for time. After the brief break in play, UConn rallied for a 7-1 run to take a 22-19 upper hand and Tulane used a timeout. McGary caught the back line and a ball handling error gave the Huskies a set point opportunity. Thomas closed out the set for UConn, 25-20, with a spike.
Tulane took its first timeout of the fifth set after Connecticut jumped out to an 8-5 lead, which featured three kills by Strawberry. Two UConn service errors helped the Green Wave get within one but Anagu slapped one down before Rivera tallied the ace to force Tulane to use its final timeout. McGary came up big, getting back-to-back kills to put the Huskies ahead 13-8. The Green Wave posted the next six points to cut UConn’s to a single point. Even though the Huskies had a match point opportunity, the squad decided to use a timeout and regroup. Back on the court, Anagu delivered the decisive blow to win the set, 15-13.