The Huskies (8-6, 1-1 American) volleyball team will be traveling a bit this weekend as they head to Houston, TX for their showdown Friday at 8 p.m. against the Cougars (4-6, 0-2), then they head to New Orleans for their game against Tulane (12-3,1-1) Sunday at 1 p.m.
UConn is coming off their conference-opening weekend, where they beat Memphis, but fell to No. 24 Witchita State.
“Going into a Memphis match, who’s very physical, I thought we did a really good job of trying to maintain a high level of effort,” UConn head coach Kris Grunwald said. “The scoreboard means nothing. We don’t ever want to play relative to what the scoreboard says because volleyball is such a game of momentum and it can change like that.”
Redshirt sophomore Kayla Williams is a star out on the court. When she serves, nearly every fan in attendance has their eyes trained on her – it’s no mistake that she has 26 service aces. Williams also has 170 kills and 130 digs on the season.
“Kayla, athletically, she is the person that people watch us hitting in warmups and people say, “Wow,” Grunwald said. “She is very noticeable for her athleticism and she can make plays that very few people can.”
Junior Kennedy Arundel is the defensive mastermind for the Huskies, as she has 177 digs and 14 service aces. Senior Tosin Adeniyi is a force on the court, leading the team in block solos at 11 to go with her 90 kills. Junior Emma Turner has had a stellar season thus far, as she has an astounding 472 assists.
The Huskies will take on Houston to begin the weekend and they are coming in cold, dropping each of their last three matchups. Offensively, Brianna Lynch is the star as she has 108 kills in 282 attempts. Katie Karbo leads the team defensively with 220 digs.
“Houston is a very scrappy team, not the most physical team in the conference,” Grunwald said. “It’s very important that we calm the chaos against them. Their style of play can be really chaotic because all different sorts of stuff comes at you. So we’ve got to be able to take the ball that is on our side and not let their style of play influence our style of play.”
UConn will close out the weekend of conference play against Tulane Sunday afternoon and they are at the top of the conference. Offensively, they have five players with over 100 kills and Lexie Douglas leads them with 138. Defensively, Kaylie McHugh is among the leaders in the NCAA with 278 digs.
“Tulane is on a run,” Grunwald said. “They are doing a really nice job. They are young, but they have a couple of upperclassmen as well. Tulane is going to be a little more physical. They are going to pressure us in some situations and we have to be able to handle that.”
Michael Logan is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.