Coming off of four tough losses, UConn volleyball will leave Storrs for the first time since October 15. In their last matchup against Witchita St., the Huskies fell in straight sets, but never lost by more than five points. UConn took down Memphis in four sets in their previous matchup.
“I don’t think we will see much of a difference as far as tactical things,” UConn head coach Kris Grunwald said. “Witchita St. is a really good team and their middle and setter really controlled the match last time … we are just going to go there and play our hardest.”
Redshirt sophomore star Kayla Williams had a team-high of 13 kills in the previous match, while junior Emma Turner did her thing and led with 36 assists. For Witchita State (20-3, 12-0), Abbie Lehman was the offensive firepower as she recorded 17 kills. UConn will take them on Friday at 8 p.m.
Lehman was named the American Defensive Player of the Week for her 15 total blocks against USF and UCF last weekend. Tabitha Brown leads the team with a total of 300 kills, while Giorgia Civita has a team-high 435 digs. Emily Hiebert has 904 assists, 11.3 per set, good for 18 in the nation.
Despite the Huskies finding themselves with a record of 10-14 and 3-9 in conference play; Grunwald said that the team is still playing for something.
“ The only thing that we can keep doing is going into the gym and play together, play hard,” Grunwald said. “If we come off the floor feeling like we played our best and we get beat, we can be okay with that. If we come off the floor and feel that technically and tactically we haven’t done our job, then we have some issues.”
Freshmen Isabelle Peterson and Ally Barrett stepped up big time for the Huskies last weekend in both defeats. Peterson had 12 kills against Houston, while Barrett had 11 kills against Tulsa.
Grunwald said that the young players are showing that they will be huge components next season.
“Short term, it’s little bits and strides. But in the long run, this will make us that much better,” Grunwald said. “It’s just difficult dealing with it now.”
The Huskies will take on Memphis (8-16, 0-11) Sunday at 2 p.m. The Tigers are led by Tai Bierria, who has 187 kills, while Faith Myers has 556 assists. Alyssa Kronberg leads the defense with 282 digs.
“Memphis is more like us in the realm of who can execute better on that given day, will win the match,” Grunwald said. “That brings a different challenge, especially on the road. For us, we are playing everything day by day, trying to keep the enthusiasm up and get better at the things that we can control.”
The Huskies are led by Williams, who has 310 kills and Turner, who has 840 of the team’s 1,043 assists. Junior Kennedy Arundel leads the defense with 316 digs.
“We are still battling and fighting hard,” Grunwald said. “As long as we continue to do that, good things can happen.”
Michael Logan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.