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UConn Volleyball Season Preview

The Huskies travel to senior Mattison Quayle's hometown of Los Angeles to open the season.

Aug. 23, 2012

Promotional Schedule | Team Poster

STORRS, Conn.The University of Connecticut volleyball team launches into the 2012 season at the LMU Invitational this weekend, hosted by Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, the hometown of Husky senior Mattison Quayle.  Play begins when UConn faces the host Lions at 10:00 PM EDT on Friday night, followed my matches against UC-Santa Barbara and Iona on Saturday.

Connecticut finished 14-15 overall in 2011 and 4-10 in BIG EAST contests.  With the departure of All-BIG EAST second team outside hitter Jordan Kirk and middle hitter Allison Nickel, the Huskies were slated 10th in the 14-team BIG EAST preseason coaches’ poll that was released last week.

Below is a position-by-position preview for UConn’s upcoming season.

Outside Hitters
Quayle provides three years of starting experience to a young group of outside hitters. She set a career-high in kills with 323 last season, averaging 3.05 per set, while hitting .184. Quayle brings a competitive energy combined with experience that will have a major impact on the team’s success. She enters her final season as a Husky prepared to lead the squad on and off the court as head coach Holly Strauss-O’Brien will rely on her to be a major point scorer and help guide Connecticut back to the post season.



Sophomore Devon Maugle (Plymouth Meeting, Pa.) had a solid rookie season, appearing in all 106 sets. She registered 236 kills at a rate of 2.23 per set. Maugle brings a winning attitude to the team and knows what it takes to be an impact player and statistical leader. Strauss-O’Brien expects her to continue her steady ball control and to be a silent killer playing alongside Quayle. “Devon has worked hard in the weight room and volleyball court over the past year and is prepared to step up into a leadership role,” said Stauss-O’Brien.

Fellow sophomore Karson Ratliff (Wake Forest, N.C.) returns after playing in 27 sets as a freshman. She totaled 20 kills and hit .181 coming off the bench. Ratliff is a versatile attacker who can hit from both pins. She and freshman Madeline Kuppe (Palo Alto, Calif.) will both look to make an impact this season after the departure of Jordan Kirk to graduation. Kuppe has a great understanding of the game which will enable her to compete for pin positions. “The consistency of her passing and attacking game will add depth in the outside hitting position,” stated Strauss-O’Brien.

Middle Hitters
Junior middle blocker Jackie Wattles (Liberty Hill, Texas) is the lone returner in the middle for UConn. After playing sparingly as a freshman in 2010, she hit .264 a year ago, totaling 167 kills and led the team with 0.87 blocks per set. This year, Wattles appears to be posed for a break out campaign. “She has invested herself in improving every aspect of her game,” said Strauss-O’Brien. “We need Jackie to be an efficient terminator for us and continue to be a defensive presence at the net.”

A pair of freshmen will be given the opportunity to contribute immediately with Wattles in the middle. Immanuella Anagu (Culver City, Calif.) and Erika Thomas (Ocoee, Fla.) step up to take the place of the graduated Allison Nickel. “Manny is a special athlete who comes from a great club program and is ready to compete for a spot in the middle,” started Strauss-O’Brien. “Erika will provide depth in our middle as well as compete for a right pin spot.” Anagu is expected to be a strong blocking presence and impact the transition game, while Thomas is also a natural blocker and fierce competitor.

“We have depth at our setting position this year which will automatically increase the level of play in our gym,” stated Strauss-O’Brien. Angela Roidt (McFarland, Wis.) returns for her senior season after dishing out 1,722 assists in 2011 and hitting .214 with 45 kills. She has a lot of match experience under her belt and will be counted on to lead the Huskies on the court.

Sophomore Katie Robinson (Los Altos, Calif.) returns after minimal playing time a year ago. She played in just 11 sets and collected 48 assists. Robinson will compete for a chance to command the offense after working hard in the off season to fine tune her consistency and decision making on the floor.

Freshman Marissa Prinzbach (Cincinnati, Ohio) joins the program with a great mind for the game and the potential to become a difference maker for the program right away. “Having competition at the setter position this year will have a significant   impact on the level of ball played in our gym,” said Strauss-O’Brien.

Defensive Specialists
Kelsey Maving (Tonawanda, N.Y.) enters her senior season ranked eighth all-time in career digs at UConn with 1,279. A three-year starter at libero, she totaled 578 in 2011, second most in a single season, and broke her own program record with 40 digs in a win over Notre Dame.

There is a lot of depth returning behind Maving in sophomores Brianna Datti (Durham, N.H.), Sage Esposito (Milford, Conn.) and Amy Christensen (Ashburn, Va.).

“I believe that the 2012 schedule will provide us with many challenges and prepare this team for the competitive goals we have for the season,” said Strauss-O’Brien.

The season gets underway at the LMU Invitational in Los Angeles on August 24, with game one coming against the host, Loyola Marymount. Early season tournament play continues when the Huskies host the UConn Classic at Gampel Pavilion on August 31 and September 1. Connecticut welcomes Dartmouth, Fairfield and Michigan State for the annual tournament. The Spartans finished 22-12 overall in 2012 and placed sixth in the Big Ten, which has boasted four of the last five national champions. From there, the Huskies take part in the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational in Springfield, Mo. and New England Challenge in Boston, Mass.

BIG EAST play kicks off when Villanova visits Storrs on September 21. Georgetown (Sept. 23), Cincinnati (Oct. 12), Louisville (Oct. 14), Rutgers (Oct. 27), Seton Hall (Oct. 28) and USF (Nov. 9) round out the home conference schedule for UConn.

New Coaches
Strauss-O’Brien welcomes a pair of fresh faces to the program as Kristin Kenney and Steve Yates embark on their first season as assistant coaches in the program. Kenney, a 2007 graduate of Boston College, comes to Connecticut after serving as an assistant at Harvard from 2007-2011. Yates, a 2007 graduate of Emmanuel College, was an assistant coach at Coastal Carolina last season and previously worked as a graduate assistant at Concordia College.