Volleyball: Last road weekend brings chance for Huskies to finish season strong

UConn's Hayley Cmajdalka (#14) rises up to spike the ball during a game against Cincinnati on November 13th at Gampel Pavilion. (Akshara Thejaswi/The Daily Campus)

The UConn volleyball team will travel to Florida this weekend to take on its last two road opponents of the regular season, facing South Florida Friday night and UCF Sunday afternoon.

South Florida is having a low point in its season, with the team losing its last five games in a row. The Bulls (16-12, 7-9 American) are tied with UConn (16-11, 7-9 American) in the conference, with both teams currently sitting in sixth place.

South Florida is led on offense by senior Dakota Hampton, who averages 2.89 kills per set for 272 on the season, with a .218 hitting percentage. She is helped by redshirt sophomore Clara Payne, who has a .318 hitting percentage and has contributed 219 kills. Senior Denise Belcher has added an additional 201 kills and a .202 hitting percentage. The team’s assists have come from junior Alex Mendoza with an average of 10.72 assists per set for a total of 1,104 on the season.

The team ranks fifth in hitting percentage and blocks, with the team averaging a .234 hitting percentage and 2.14 blocks per set.

UCF is doing slightly better, with an 11-5 record in the American. The Knights are fourth in the conference. The team ranks high in a large number of categories in the American, ranking fourth with a .240 hitting percentage, second in assists with 13.36 per set, second in kills with 14.22 per set, fourth in blocks with 2.2 per set, as well as digs with 17.14 per set.

The attack for the Knights is bolstered by a number of offensive threats, with four players registering more than 200 kills over the season. Jale Hervey has led the line with 436 kills, at an average of .262 per set. Kia Bright, Taylor Gallart and Alli Sabol all added large amounts of kills, with 287, 213 and 209 kills, respectively. Miranda Watkins and Farah Rajaee split the assists on the team, with Watkins contributing 629 at an average of 6.05 per set and Farah Rajaee contributing 592 at an average of 5.69 per set.

UConn hopes to split both series after losing 3-0 to UCF and 3-2 against USF earlier in the year. Kayla Williams will continue to be an important factor with her average 3.53 kills per set, while additional players will need to step up. Elizabeth Kline has recorded 10 or more digs in four of her last five games, including 13 in her game against ECU. If she continues to produce defensively, then the Huskies look to have a good chance of going over .500 percent on the season.


Joe Burns is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.burns@uconn.edu.