GREENVILLE, N.C. – The University of Connecticut volleyball team dropped a 3-2 (18-25, 21-25, 25-16, 25-17, 12-15) decision to East Carolina in Minge Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon in its final match of the 2015 season. The Huskies campaign ends with a 16-15 overall record and 10-10 in the conference.
Junior Jade Strawberry led the way with 20 kills and 10 digs for her 12th double-double of the season. Freshman Iman McGary (Rockford, Ill.) just missed her career-best mark with 14 kills while junior Rebecca Rivera (Mississauga, Ontario) dished a career-high 45 assists. Senior captain Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) had 11 kills while classmate Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) notched eight kills and a match-best eight blocks.
Two ECU errors gave the Huskies a two-point edge, 6-4, to start the set. The Pirates posted five-straight points for a 13-9 lead but the Huskies responded with three points of their own to pull within one. UConn called the first timeout of the match after ECU went up 18-15. Out of the break, the home squad went on a 4-1 run to force Connecticut to use its second timeout. Sophomore Danielle Cabel (Bettendorf, Iowa) delivered a kill and freshman Kennedy Arundel (Chicago, Ill.) served up an ace to bring the score to 23-18 but the Huskies dropped the first set, 18-25.
UConn went ahead 7-4 to get the second set underway behind kills from Strawberry and sophomore Tosin Adeniyi (Springfield, Ill.). The Pirates quickly made up the ground to take a 10-8 lead and sent the Huskies to the bench. UConn rebounded with three consecutive points after spikes by Anagu and junior Hayley Cmajdalka (College Station, Texas) for a slight 11-10 edge. ECU once again regained the lead but the Huskies came back with another 3-0 run to knot the score at 14. Connecticut burned another timeout with the Pirates up 19-17. The Huskies tied the set at 19 on a kill from Strawberry and ECU service error but fell in the second set, 21-25.
The Huskies went on an 8-1 run to begin the third set thanks to four-straight ECU errors, an ace by Strawberry and kills from Anagu and Adeniyi. McGary tallied back-to-back aces as the Huskies kept the momentum going for a 16-6 lead. Thomas added two kills and Anagu followed up with a spike to put UConn up 22-12 as the visitors continued to dominate the set. The Pirates strung together four points of their own but still trailed by seven. McGary caught the back line and a bad set by ECU ended the set in favor of the Huskies, 25-16.
Both teams traded points early to tie the fourth set at 4-4. Strawberry and McGary each added kills to help Connecticut take a 9-6 advantage. Strawberry followed up with three-straight kills to force ECU to call for time as UConn had a 13-8 lead. McGary sent the Pirates to the bench after laying down three kills and putting her team up, 18-12. Anagu stuffed the Pirates at the net while Thomas and Cason delivered spikes to get out to a 24-16 lead. McGary slammed down the final tally to claim the set, 25-17.
The final set began much like the first as the squads exchanged blows and locked the score at 5-5. Strawberry put down three kills to give UConn a 8-7 edge. Connecticut used a timeout after ECU went ahead, 10-8. The Huskies tried to rally, getting within two but couldn’t overtake the Pirates and lost the fifth set, 12-15.