Following a 16-15 season (10-10 The American) and a fifth place finish in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Poll, the Huskies come into the 2016 season ready to make a statement. Over the last two seasons, under Coach Kris Grunwald, the Huskies have been slowly improving and winning more matches. UConn has improved by four wins a season over the last two years, as they looked to start the 2016 campaign with two wins at the Syracuse Invitational.
In the first match of the year, UConn was pitted against the Syracuse Orange, who finished 23-8 in the 2015 season, as they improved their previous season’s win total by 14. UConn came away with the win on Friday, their third straight victory in opening season matches, in four very competitive and contested sets. The Huskies won 25-23, 24-26, 25-23 and 25-22, winning the tiebreaking third set despite trailing 9-1 early on.
Leading the way for the team were sophomore Kennedy Arundel who tailed 21 digs, junior Kenya Cason and redshirt freshman Kayla Williams who each had 16 kills, and junior Tosin Adeniyi who posted team-high .545 hitting percentage.
On the next day, UConn was pitted against the Colgate Raiders of the Patriot League. In the 2015 season, Colgate finished 12-16 (10-6 Patriot) but made it to the semifinals of the Patriot League Tournament before losing to American. Unlike the first match of the season, the Huskies dropped the first set 20-25, but were able to convincingly win the next three, 25-17, 25-17, 25-18, to win the match.
Over the course of the four sets, UConn out scored Colgate 72-48 as they were able to execute their offense game plan successfully against the Raiders. Leading the way for the Huskies on Saturday was All-American Preseason Team player Senior Jade Strawberry, as she tallied a game-high 17 kills. Joining Strawberry was Senior Hayley Cmajdalka and junior Kenya Cason who had 13 and 12 kills respectively. Other team and game high stats were achieved by Senior Rebecca Rivera and sophomore Emma Turner who had 27 assists a piece, Cason who had a game-high 14 digs and Cmajdalka who had a .650 hitting percentage.
The Huskies is the LSU Tiger Classic, where they will face LSU and Southern Miss on Friday, and then Virginia Saturday.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering UConn volleyball. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.