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Volleyball Starts Bid For BIG EAST Title in Tournament on Friday

November 21, 2008

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - For the third straight season, the University of Connecticut volleyball team (21-8, 10-4) is among the eight-team field at the BIG EAST Tournament. Tournament play begins for the Huskies at 10 a.m. on Friday with a match against No. 5 seed Notre Dame. UConn, the No. 4 seed, lost its most recent meeting with the Fighting Irish, but finished the regular season with its best conference season since 2000.

The Huskies' regular season ended with a 3-2 loss at Notre Dame (14-13, 9-5) on Nov. 16 which snapped a season-high seven-match winning streak. During that stretch of victories, UConn collected five three-set victories over its conference opponents. 

Chauntay Mickens (Germantown, Md.) leads the UConn attacking effort with 309 kills while, in her rookie season, Jordan Kirk (Plano, Texas) has tallied 253. Lauren Lamberti (Cary, Ill.) and Rebecca Murray (Carmel, Ind.) have not suffered from a sophomore slump this season with both among the team leaders in kills. Lamberti has recorded 234 through the regular season and Murray, with a team-best hitting percentage (.323) has 241 kills.

Six-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week Annie Luhrsen (Wheaton, Ill.) has been an instrumental part of the UConn offense dishing off 1,051 assists in 29 matches played. Luhrsen is among the league leaders in assists per set (9.92) and aces (31). She is already part of UConn history with 59 aces in the regular season placing her third in the Husky record books. 

Entering the tournament, UConn's defense out-digs and out-blocks its opponents each match. Led by Murray's 100 blocks, the front line has consistently stopped the opposition. Megan Frey (Chaska, Minn.) has 87 this season after a career-high mark of eight at Notre Dame (Nov. 16) while Lamberti has recorded 56. The Huskies sent back a season-high 19 team blocks against the Fighting Irish. 

Jessica Isaac (Erlanger, Ky.) is averaging just under four digs a set (3.92) for the Huskies. Together with the constant digging contributions from Kate Seabaugh (St. Louis, Mo.) and Frey, who have totaled 166 and 165, respectively, UConn out-digs its opponents 0.70 per set. 

With the BIG EAST Tournament field set, if UConn should follow its 2008 regular season pattern success after five-set losses in BIG EAST matches, the Huskies will take on either No. 1 seed St. John's or No. 8 seed South Florida. UConn has won each of its four 3-2 losses this season with a victory. Including a 3-1 victory at Pittsburgh (Oct. 24) after a three-set loss at St. John's (Oct. 18). 

Fans can follow the Huskies quest for victory on the BIG EAST's website. If interested, fans can purchase a tournament pass to watch each match of the BIG EAST Volleyball Tournament online at the "Sign up for" portion of the conference's official website.