UConn hosted their annual Dog Pound Challenge this past weekend, taking on Holy Cross, Rutgers and St John’s. The Huskies walked away with two wins and a loss, leaving them at 8-5 on the season before conference play next week.
UConn won their first game of the Challenge against Holy Cross in straight sets, looking like a force to be reckoned with. The Huskies were led by redshirt sophomore Genna Florig, who led the team with 10 kills and four blocks. Florig has been a valuable asset to this team all season, and really shined against Holy Cross this weekend.
UConn’s second match was against Rutgers, who had won four of their previous five coming into the tournament. The Huskies knocked them out in four sets with strong play from their young players.
Freshman Caylee Parker stood out in particular, totaling 22 kills on a .241 hitting percentage, in addition to picking up two blocks and two digs. Parker accounted for over a third of the Huskies kills in this match and has continued to show her incredible talent throughout the season thus far.
The last match for UConn was not nearly as successful as the previous two, as the Huskies lost to St. John’s in straight sets. The Huskies did not remotely look like the team that was 2-0 on the weekend at that point, especially in Head Coach Kris Grunwald’s mind.
“We like some of the things we do, we just don’t do them consistently enough. You beat a scrappy Holy Cross team in three and then you beat a Big 10 team in four and then you come out and lay an egg,” Coach Grunwald said. “We’ve talked about our mental and physical preparation for this match and we just didn’t come out ready to play today. If you’re serving easy and allowing a team to be in system then they’re really tough to defend. We didn’t serve well enough today, which is usually one our our marquee aspects, and we didn’t pass well either, nearly as well as we needed to to do the same thing back to them.”
However, there was at least one positive to take away from the loss, as freshman middle blocker, Kennadie Jake-Turner played came on the court the third set and made an immediate impact, totaling five kills on just six total attacks. She will look to be a big factor on this team as she continues to get healthy. Coach Grunwald was happy with the way she played, despite the end result for the team.
“KJ was one of the few bright candles in the game, she is somebody that athletically, we’ve been waiting, since she’s been in a boot for most of pre match,” saig Grunwald. “It’s just been waiting for the right time for her, and today she came in and give us some really good emotion and some offensive power.”
The Huskies learned valuable lessons from both the wins and the loss they took this weekend, and will look to apply them next week when they begin conference play against Southern Methodist University on September 21.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.