The University of Connecticut (UConn) women’s volleyball team ended their first set of conference matches 1-1, but finished the weekend in Texas strong with a win against top ranked opponent Houston. This weekend they are taking a trip to Philadelphia to play Temple on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Traveling is a big part of the season for the Huskies (9-6, 1-1 The American), so head coach Kris Grunwald put in place a plan to counteract the struggles that the team might face between all of their away games, particularly on consecutive weekends.
“The travel in our conference is quite difficult, arguably one of the most difficult in the country,” Grunwald said. “It takes communication among our staff, trainer, strength coach and academic adviser to get a feel for how we are doing as well as what our academic load is for the week. It’s a constant balancing act.”
In terms of prep for the game, Coach Grunwald does not plan to change anything and rather than focus on the opponent, he wants to make sure his team is ready for the tough match ahead.
“Temple is a good team whose record reflects a very difficult pre-conference schedule,” said Grunwald. “At this point of the season, especially being young in particular spots on our team, we are focusing more on our systems and tactics and making sure we are taking care of our responsibilities.”
The player to watch on Temple (4-10, 1-1 The American) is sophomore outside hitter Katarina Papazoglou, who is a leader on both ends of the court for the Owls. Papazoglou leads the team in kills with 117, and is second on the team in digs with 144 on the season, including a 17-kill, 27-dig performance against Indiana. She has also chipped in 16 blocks thus far, which is debatably Temple’s strongest asset.
The Owls have totaled 116 blocks so far, led by graduate student Iva Deak who has 49 total blocks, including eight in last week’s matches. Coach Grunwald is aware of Temple’s defensive skills, and feels as though his Huskies are ready for the challenge.
“As for Temple’s defense, the quality of that will be predicated on the quality of our passing,” Grunwald said. “If we pass well and have all options available, we like our offensive repertoire. If we struggle passing and get out of system then the odds transfer over to the defensive teams favor.”
The Huskies have looked strong so far, and as more of their young players continue to get more experience are hopeful to continue to grow and improve during the season. It should, however, be taken game by game, continuing with Temple as this weekend’s opponent, in what should be a very good match.
Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.