UConn Volleyball to host the Dog Pound Challenge

UConn lost to Southern Miss. on Sep. 2, 2016. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The UConn women’s volleyball team will host the second annual Dog Pound Challenge at Gampel Pavilion where they will go up against Loyola Maryland, St. Francis Brooklyn and Yale.

The Huskies (4-1) enter this weekend’s tournament after playing the LSU Classic where they swept both host LSU and Virginia, but got swept by Southern Mississippi. Loyola Maryland (2-2) is looking to come back after losing to George Washington on Tuesday. St. Francis Brooklyn (3-5) is looking to get back on their feet after opening the season 2-1. Yale comes into the tournament red hot after going 3-0 to start the season.

Coach Kris Grunwald told uconnhuskies.com that he’s happy with his team’s position going into this weekend’s tournament.

“It’s so early in the season and right now we are just trying to focus on our play,” said Grunwald. “We came home happy with 2-1; it would have been nice to go 3-0, but we’re in a good position heading into this weekend.”

The Huskies are 4-1 for the first time since 2008. Their success can be attributed to senior Hayley Cmajdalka and redshirt freshman Kayla Williams who were both named to the Tiger Classic All-Tournament Team last weekend. Also, UConn’s offense right now is one of the best in the nation. The Huskies currently rank third in the country in kill per set (15.59) and assists per set (14.53). Senior Jade Strawberry leads the team with 58 kills, while sophomore Emma Turner leads with 127 assists. This will be the 20th time UConn has gone up against Yale, and they are 15-4 all time against the Bulldogs. It will be the first time that UConn will go up against both Loyola Maryland and St. Francis Brooklyn.

The Huskies will face up against Loyola Maryland on Friday at 10 a.m. They will have to go up against one of the most dominant offensive players in the nation, Ann Ernest. The freshman is ranked 21st in the nation with an average of 4.71 kills per set and a total of 66 through four games. Their roster also has five juniors and four seniors returning to the roster from last season.

Then, UConn will go up against Yale at 7 p.m. Yale can attribute most of their success so far this season to their offense. Right now, the Bulldogs are ranked 16th in the nation with 14.55 kills per set and 39th in the nation in assists. Sophomore Kelley Wirth leads the team with the most kills per set (4.20) and most total kills (42).

Finally, the Huskies face the St. Francis Brooklyn at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The Terriers don’t have the same offensive firepower as any of the other teams. As a team, they average 9.9 kills per set. So they are going to have to rely on their defense, which has 12. 8 digs/set and blocks 1.8 shots per set.


Matt Fontaine is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus, covering lacrosse. He can be reached via email at matthew.fontaine@uconn.edu.