STORRS, Conn. - Senior tri-captain Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) became just the seventh-ever Husky player to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs as the University of Connecticut women's volleyball team won a five-set thriller (21-25, 25-23, 16-25, 25-18, 15-8) over Houston on Wednesday afternoon at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion. The win moves the Huskies up to 11-19 (4-15, The American), while the Cougars slip to 14-17 overall.
Maugle (14 kills, 17 digs) entered the afternoon needing just three kills to reach the 1,000 mark and picked them up in the first set. The senior outside hitter now boasts 1,039 kills and 1,016 digs and is the first player to join the 1,000/1,000 club since Jamie Hadenfeldt (2001-04) accomplished the feat during the 2004 season. Maugle currently stands at No. 11 on UConn's all-time kills leader chart.
Senior setter Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) delivered another strong performance, notching a double-double (24 assists, 10 digs). Freshman Tosin Adeniyi added 12 kills and hit .360 while Erika Thomas turned in a nine-kill performance to go along with a block assist. Camile Evans and Hayley Cmajdalka contributed four and five combo block, respectively. The Huskies hit .171 as a team, including a stellar .381 mark in the decisive fifth frame.
The two squads split the first points of the opening frame until the Cougars grabbed a three-point edge, 15-12, on one of Kadi Kullerkann's 32 kills. The Huskies called for time and battled back to tie things up after Hayley Cmajdalka slammed down a kill. UConn took a 20-18 lead following an Esposito ace but Houston rattled off three straight points and forced a UConn clock stoppage. The Cougars couldn't be slowed out of the break, scoring four of the final five points to take the first frame, 25-21.
Houston jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the second but a 4-to-0 run, highlighted by two kills from Maugle drew the Huskies even at 10. A Kenya Cason kill and Maugle ace pushed the Huskies out ahead by three and drew a Houston whistle. The Cougars clawed back to even at 21 but a Jade Strawberry ace and an attack error by Cortney Warren gave UConn the second set and evened the match at one.
The squads went point-for-point in the third until Houston scored three-straight to stake itself to a 15-12 lead. UConn moved to within two after an Adeniyi slam but a 5-to-0 run moved Houston out in front by a 22-16 margin. The Cougars scored the final three points of the set to earn a 2-1 set edge.
The Huskies responded in the fourth, battling back from an early 7-2 deficit. With Amy Christensen serving, UConn scored three-straight, courtesy of back-to-back kills from Adeniyi to move within two. A Cougar attack error drew the Huskies even and Cmajdalka tapped one over the net to give UConn a 17-14 lead and force Houston into their final timeout of the frame. Out of the stoppage, UConn pushed its lead to six following kills from Adeniyi, Camille Evans and Thomas and won the set on Adeniyi's fifth kill of the frame.
Connecticut charged out of the break in the fifth frame, doubling up the Cougars, 4-2, after a ball handling error. Houston pulled within one but a solo block from Cmajdalka followed by a kill from Maugle gave UConn a commanding 9-5 lead. The teams traded the next six points before UConn iced the match with three-straight points, highlighted by Esposito's third ace of the game.
The win marked the Huskies' first victory in four chances over Houston since the teams first met on the court in The American's inaugural season in 2013.
UConn returns to the court for the final time this season when it hosts Tulane on Friday, Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. The game will serve as the 2014 senior night where the Huskies will honor Maugle, Brianna Datti, Karson Ratliff, Christensen and Esposito.