The UConn women’s volleyball team heads down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana this weekend for the LSU Tiger Classic, where they will play LSU, Southern Mississippi and Virginia in a three-day span.
The Huskies (2-0) are coming off a 3-1 win at Colgate on Saturday. LSU (2-1) is looking to avenge the tough 3-0 loss they suffered to Duke on Saturday. Southern Miss comes into the LSU Classic 3-1 overall and are riding a wave of momentum after a 3-0 win against Southern University on Tuesday. Virginia (3-1) is coming off a 3-1 loss at the hands of Northwestern.
The Huskies will rely on senior outside hitter Jade Strawberry to be the catalyst of their explosive offense. She has already proven through the first two games that she has accepted the role with open arms, leading the team with 31 kills and 33 points. The Huskies will also need some help from their supporting cast, who outscored Syracuse and Colgate by 24 points. Junior Kenya Cason and redshirt freshman Kayla Williams are second and third on the team in kills.
In a UConn Athletics news release, head coach Kris Grunwald said he was impressed with how well his team responded to being down last Friday.
“We did a great job continuing to fight, we were down 9-1 and came back to win the set,” Grunwald said. “So, one of the big things we’ve talked about during the preseason was how we respond to a situation, whether it’s good or bad, just going back and really focusing on the next play, not the last play.”
LSU doesn’t have the same offensive firepower that the Huskies do. The Lady Tigers have only outscored their opponents by a combined six points and have nine fewer kills than their opponents in the past three games. They are also coming off a season where they went 9-20 overall and 5-13 against SEC opponents.
Southern Mississippi’s offense is firing on all cylinders. They’ve outscored their opponents by 89 points and senior outside hitter Stephany Purdue leads the team with 55 kills. The Golden Eagles have been a powerhouse team over the past two years, winning at least 20 games in the past two seasons.
Virginia, on the other hand, will rely on their defense to help stop the Huskies. The Cavaliers have blocked the most number of shots, most total blocks, and most blocks per set of the three teams playing in this weekend’s tournament. Last season, the Cavaliers were 18-13 (10-10 ACC), and have five upperclassmen coming back from the previous year.
Matt Fontaine is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus, covering volleyball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.