July 22, 2013
STORRS, Conn. - Head coach Holly Strauss-O'Brien and the UConn women's volleyball team will play a challenging 33-match schedule in the Huskies' inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference. The schedule features 18 conference games and 15 non-conference tilts, including four in-season tournaments. The Huskies will play host to 12 home contests at Gampel Pavilion, with three coming in the 2013 edition of the UConn Classic.
"Our 2013 schedule provides a good balance of challenges with us battling some different opponents this year," Strauss-O'Brien, the 2012 BIG EAST Co-Coach of the Year, said. UConn's schedule sees a squad coming off a 19-12 season take on 15 opponents who posted winning records in 2012, including eight teams that won 20 games and three that reached the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies face off with six neighboring New England schools and will also see five brand new opponents they have never faced before.
"From Big Ten teams to ACC teams, we are slated to face a variety this fall which will be great preparation and experience for our young squad," Strauss-O'Brien added. Up first for the squad is a trip to Fort Wayne, Ind., to participate in the IPFW Invitational from Aug. 30-31. The Huskies kick off the season with a match-up against Southern Illinois on Aug. 30. Following that is a double dip on Aug. 31 that pits UConn against Duquesne in the morning before a nightcap with host IPFW. The Mastodons went 25-7 last year, winning the Summit League Tournament and earning an NCAA berth. UConn has never faced IPFW and has split two contests each with SIU and Duquesne.
The first match in Storrs in 2013 comes on Sept. 3 when UConn welcomes Hartford to Gampel. The Huskies lead the all-time series with their westerly neighbor by 24-3 mark. After that match-up, the Huskies play host to the UConn Classic, with Albany, Northeastern and Pittsburgh set to participate from Sept. 6 and 7. Connecticut first takes on Northeastern on the 6th, then battles Albany and Pitt on the 7th. The Red and Black Huskies from NU have posted back-to-back 20 win seasons and own a 20-12 all-time mark against UConn, while Pitt is a familiar foe from the BIG EAST Conference that UConn holds a 9-16 record against.
Two more in-season tournaments serve to round out the bulk of the non-conference portion of the schedule. Connecticut travels to Atlanta from Sept. 13 to 14 to join Troy, St. John's and host Georgia Tech in the Courtyard Classic. Troy and GT are both first-time opponents for the Huskies, while St. John's is another former BIG EAST opponent. UConn has posted an 11-9 record in 20 past contests against the Red Storm. All four teams in the Courtyard Classic finished with RPI's in the top-150 last year. UConn will join fellow New England schools Rhode Island, New Hampshire and host Dartmouth, as well as national power Minnesota, at the Dartmouth Duel in Hanover, N.H. on Sept. 20 and 21. The Huskies will play two games each day of the tournament, facing Rhode Island and Dartmouth on the first and Minnesota and UNH on the second. Minnesota went 27-8 in 2012, advancing to the NCAA regional finals. The Golden Gophers finished the year ranked 6th in RPI and 8th in the AVCA Coaches Poll.
The Huskies begin their first American Athletic Conference slate with a pair of home games on Sept. 27 and 29, playing host to SMU and Houston. UConn has only faced SMU once in program history, and has never seen Houston. Next up is a trip to the Sunshine State for games at UCF (Oct. 4) and USF (Oct. 6), a pair of schools that both posted winning records in 2012. UConn owns a 7-3 all-time combined record against the two squads.
After a brief jaunt out of conference for a home contest against Connecticut-neighbor Sacred Heart on Oct. 8, UConn welcomes Rutgers to Storrs on Oct. 11. The Scarlet Knights went 18-12 last season, but are just 8-20 against the Huskies all-time. Road games at Temple (Oct. 18) and Memphis (Oct. 20) follow that contest, which will mark the first meeting between UConn and Memphis since 1991, when the Tigers were known as Memphis State. Connecticut comes back home to host Cincinnati on Oct. 25 in a rematch of last year's BIG EAST quarterfinal, a 3-2 thriller won by the Bearcats. UC reached four consecutive NCAA tournaments from 2008 to 2011.
UConn then concludes the first round of the conference double round-robin when it hosts Louisville on Oct. 27. The Cardinals went 30-4 last season, finished 7th in RPI, won the BIG EAST and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Wrapping up the conference slate, UConn visits Houston (Nov. 1) and SMU (Nov. 3) in the program's first trip to Texas since opening the 2011 season at the TCU Tournament in Fort Worth. USF and UCF return trips to Storrs on Nov. 8 and Nov. 10, respectively, before UConn travels to the Garden State to face Rutgers in New Jersey on Nov. 15. Memphis and Temple visit on Nov. 22 and 24 to round out the 2013 home portion of the schedule, then UConn concludes the season with a trip Midwest and return dates at Louisville (Nov. 27) and Cincinnati (Nov. 29).
Strauss-O'Brien returns a squad that only graduated three seniors from last year's 19-12 team. Sophomore Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) is among the top returners after averaging 9.93 assists per set in 2012, 113th nationally. Also returning is last season's top blocker, sophomore Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.), and classmate Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.), who led UConn with a .286 hitting percentage. Junior Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.) was one of three Huskies to appear in all 114 sets last year, while classmate Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meetings, Pa.) is UConn's leading returner in kills after posting 302 last season. UConn's 10 returning letter winners will be joined by a talented five-member freshman class as the Huskies look to establish themselves as a force in the American in 2013 and beyond.