STORRS, Conn. – The USF Bulls got a match-high 16 kills from Erin Fairs who also chipped in 14 digs to help deal the UConn Huskies a 3-1 loss in an American Athletic Conference match Sunday afternoon from Gampel Pavilion. UConn’s Kenya Cason (Columbus, Ohio) and Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) each had double digit kills as the Huskies fall to 10-15 overall and 3-11 in the AAC with the loss.
The Huskies had three players collect double digit assists led by sophomore Jade Strawberry (Tallahassee, Fla.) who collected 16 in the loss. Senior libero Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) finished with 14 digs and sophomore setter Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) had 12 digs and passed out 24 assists.
UConn and USF played a back and forth first set with the Huskies up 17-15. The Bulls started a run with three straight points to jump in front 19-17 forcing an UConn timeout. Out of the timeout, USF’s Jennica Mullins came up with back-to-back blocks in the middle to extend their run to five-straight points forcing a second Husky time-out. Mullins recorded her third-straight block for a 21-17 lead and the Bulls finished the set off on a 10-2 run capped by a block on the outside by Bree Scarbrough. USF hit .275 in the first set (16-5-40) with Fairs leading the way with four kills.
A tight second set had the Huskies down 18-16 before a 5-1 run put UConn back in front. The Huskies got consecutive kills from Strawberry to go up 19-18, forcing a USF time-out. Strawberry delivered another kill out of the break to help push the lead to 21-19. The Bulls responded with a 3-0 rally of their own and grabbed the lead back at 22-21 off a Scarbrough block on the outside. UConn tied it and took the lead back off a Cason kill and USF attack error, 24-23 and then finished out the set with back-to-back kills by Cason and Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.), 26-24.
At 10-10 in the third set, USF ran out to a 16-13 lead to force an UConn time-out. The Huskies responded with a 5-2 rally and tied the game at 18-18 after consecutive kills by Hayley Cmajdalka (College Station, Texas) and Cason. The Bulls took the lead back and led 22-19 forcing a second UConn time-out. The Huskies again found and answer and a Thomas kill capped a 4-1 spurt that knotted the set a 23-23.
The two teams traded points to a 26-26 deadlock before the Bulls closed the set with an ace by Alexus Heidelberg and a block by Scarbrough and Mullins to take a 2-1 lead in the match. The Bulls had their best hitting set of the match in the third, finishing at .310 (15-2-42) as a team with just two attack errors.
The Bulls led 10-6 early to force a UConn time-out and then pushed their advantage to 17-12 to force the Huskies to use their second one. The Huskies climbed back to with 21-17 but that would be as close as UConn would get as USF closed out a 4-2 run with a Fairs kill and a blocking error on UConn to win the set, 25-19, and the match, 3-1.
USF finished the match with 11 total blocks led by Mullins (1 bs/8 ba) and Scarbrough (8 ba). Scarbrough finished with 10 kills as well as the Bulls finished the match hitting .256 (58-16-164) as a team.
The Huskies are back in American Athletic Conference action on Wednesday, November 12th when they travel to Temple University for a 7 pm match.