|LIVE STATS:||Cincinnati||East Carolina|
STORRS, Conn. – The UConn volleyball team, which ranks fourth in kills per set (14.58) in all of Division I, will continue American Athletic Conference play this weekend when it travels to Cincinnati and East Carolina.
The Huskies (13-6, 4-4 American) play the first-place Bearcats on Friday night at 7 p.m. (ET), before taking on the Pirates on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET). UConn is 6-1 (2-1 American) on the road this season.
With a pair of losses to UCF and USF in Gampel Pavilion this past weekend, head coach Kris Grunwald’s squad looks to bounce back. It is the first time this season that the Huskies have lost two consecutive matches.
“Coming off a tough weekend, Cincinnati and ECU will be a huge challenge for us to bounce back and respond,” said Grunwald. “Not only do we need to raise our level of play, but raise it to the level of two of the better teams in the conference on the road.”
In addition to being fourth in the nation in kills, UConn also ranks sixth in assists per game (13.62). Sophomore Emma Turner leads the team, averaging 6.33 assists per set. Senior Rebecca Rivera is averaging 5.58 per set, splitting the duties with Turner.
Redshirt freshman Kayla Williams continues to lead the Huskies on offense, averaging 3.51 kills per set – sixth-most in the American. Junior Danielle Cabel has been the biggest producer most recently, leading UConn in kills in three of the last four matches.
Another good sign for the Huskies is the return of senior outside hitter Jade Strawberry, who is back from injury. Strawberry recorded a double-double of 11 kills and 17 digs in the five-set loss to USF on Sunday.
The Huskies are 6-10 all-time against Cincinnati and 2-2 against East Carolina. In 2015, UConn swept the Bearcats and split with the Pirates.
The Bearcats (12-7, 7-1 American), currently No. 45 in the NCAA Volleyball RPI, is tied with SMU atop the American conference through eight matches. They have won their past six matches, all against conference opponents.
Conference standout Jordan Thompson leads the American with 4.71 kills per set. Cincinnati is third in the conference with a .243 hitting percentage.
The Pirates (13-5, 3-5 American) are coming off a weekend sweep of Tulane and Houston, and will be riding a three-match winning streak heading into the weekend.
After losing their first five conference matches, ECU has rebounded – especially after going 10-0 in the non-conference schedule. As a team, the Pirates rank first in the league in opponent hitting percentage (.147) and blocks per set (2.35).
“With everything in consideration – not just Cincinnati, but the way East Carolina is playing right now, it will be challenging. When you put together Cincinnati, who is tied for first, and ECU, who is playing really good ball, and the travel involved, it could be our toughest weekend of the year coming up.”