The Huskies (11-17, 4-12) volleyball team is coming off two losses against Tulsa and SMU, but look to fight hard against USF (11-15, 6-10) Friday at 4 p.m. and UCF (15-13, 8-8) Sunday at 12 p.m. in Storrs.
In a season that has had many ups and downs, UConn has had one constant who has led the team throughout the year. The Huskies head coach Kris Grunwald said junior Emma Turner has been invaluable to the team.
“Emma has been an enormous asset to this program,” Grunwald said. “Where we are as a program from her freshman semester to now is completely different and she is a large part of that. Nobody in our program works harder, watches more film, or leads by example more than her. She is assisted by others, but she has been a great leader for the direction this program wants to take.”
Turner has blown past her fromer career high in assists of 717 and now currently stands at 1,005. While racking up assists is her forte, she has proven to be a versatile asset for this team. Amongst the team leaders, Turner is second in aces with 19 and fourth in digs with 205.
The last time the Huskies played USF, UConn made quick work of them and swept the Bulls. Redshirt sophomore Kayla Williams had one of her best games of the season, recording 19 kills and 17 digs. Freshman Genna Florig had a stellar game as well with 11 kills.
USF this season is led by Maria McLamb, who has 306 digs. Offensively, they are well balanced as they have four players with over 175 kills.
UCF defeated UConn in three quick sets in their last matchup on Oct. 13. Williams led the team offensively with nine kills but that came with 13 errors. As a team, UConn had 28 errors compared to UCF’s 10.
UCF has had a solid season and they have a trio who has contributed to the team’s success. Kia Bright leads the team offensively with 413 kills, while Erin Olson leads the team with 617 assists. Defensively, Jordan Pingel has paced the game with 462 digs.
The Huskies have had to deal with a ton of injuries this year which has enabled several players to get their feet wet in different positions. Last weekend junior Kennedy Arundel played her first match in the front row, while freshman Isabelle Peterson played her first college match in the middle. Grunwald said that this experience will help the team in the future.
“We have players gaining valuable experience which isn’t necessarily going to pay dividends this year with wins and losses but will certainly benefit their growth as we move forward,” Grunwald said.
This Huskies team has been dealt with a ton of adversity, but they have continued to fight with the odds against them. Grunwald said that the team will continue to be scrappy.
“I am very proud of this group showing the resolve it has … that kind of effort pays off in developing who we want to be. Coming into a weekend against two scrappy and athletic teams, that will continue to be very important,” Grunwald said.
Michael Logan is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.