Volleyball: Huskies beat 3 teams to sweep inaugural Dog Pound Challenge

UConn junior outside hitter Jade Strawberry returns the ball during the Dog Pound Challenge last weekend. Strawberry led the way for UConn in game one against Bryant University, recording a double-double  consisting of a career-high 15 kills and 14 digs. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn Volleyball team only dropped one set on their way to sweeping the inaugural Dog Pound Challenge. The Huskies defeated Bryant, the University of Maryland of Baltimore County and James Madison University over the weekend to improve their record to 4-2 on the season.

Leading the way for the Huskies in match one against the Bryant Bulldogs was junior Jade Strawberry, who recorded a double-double, consisting of 15 kills and 14 digs. The 15 kills were a career-high for Strawberry, with her last kill coming as the final point in the deciding fourth set.

After leading early in set one, Bryant went on a 6-0 run to tie the set and came back to win 27-25. That seemed to wake up the Huskies and get them going, evident by their bounce-back second set, in which they won 25-14. The following two sets were highlighted by a 10-3 run and a 15-8 lead respectively, as they pulled away and won both sets by a combined 17 points.

In match two, UConn had no trouble dispatching UMBC, as the Huskies came out firing with a 15-1 run to start set one. UConn swept the match, winning 25-8, 25-16 and 25-14. Strawberry, Kenya Cason and Immanuella Anagu, led the Huskies with seven kills while teammates Rebecca Rivera and Emma Turner recorded 13 and 14 assists, respectively.

Head coach Kris Grunwald said she was pleased with his team’s performance in the second match, specifically with its superb serving.

“UMBC had a really fast system but one thing that helped us was our serving. It didn’t allow them to be within their system,” Grunwald said.

Match three was more of the same for UConn, as they never trailed in set one and won 25-19. The Huskies came out a little slow in the next set but after being down a point 1-2, they did not trail again, winning 25-17. UConn was able to hold on at the end, 26-24 to vanquish JMU in order to win the first Dog Pound Challenge.

“We can play at a high level, this was the first time we really did for a full match,” Grunwald said.

Against JMU, Kenya Cason recorded a double-double with 11 kills and 13 digs while junior Rebecca Rivera followed suit with 20 assists and 10 digs. UConn recorded eight service aces and hit .269 as a team.

“We had to defend our home court, we knew we had to be consistent”, Cason noted following sweeping the tournament. “I think we played at a very high consistent level today.”


Matthew Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn volleyball. He can be reached via email at matthew.kren@uconn.edu.