The UConn women’s volleyball team will host ECU on Friday at 7:00 p.m. and Cincinnati on Sunday at noon.
Both games will be played at Gampel Pavilion, where the Huskies (10-6, 2-1 The American) hold a strong 5-2 record. UConn will definitely need to bring its A-game for these conference matchups, as ECU (10-4, 2-1 The American) is tied with UConn for second in the conference, and Cincinnati (12-4, 3-0 The American) sits at the top of the standings with UCF and Tulsa. Both opponents boast better overall records than the Huskies, alluding to how important these games could be for UConn. A 2-0 weekend would give UConn a substantial amount of confidence given the quality of ECU and Cincinnati’s teams.
“The primary focus still has to be on us and what we can control,” head coach Kris Grunwald said on how the team is preparing for ECU. “First and foremost is our first contacts of serving and passing. As most sports, it comes down to the basics.”
ECU is led by sixth year head coach Julie Torbett, who played a key role in the success of the Penn State program both as a player and 24 years as a head coach. ECU has been hot recently, winning eight out of its last 10 games, including the last three. The Huskies will look to end that run on Friday night.
“If we serve well, we can take ECU out of their complex offensive systems,” Grunwald said. “Along with that, our blocking eye sequencing will be discussed in a bit more detail as ECU runs offensive plays we don’t normally see. Thus, we need to be in a proactive mindset and communicate what we see to make sure our blockers are aware of their correct responsibilities.”
Cincinnati will enter the weekend with one of the best offensive players in the country, Jordan Thompson, who leads the NCAA in kills/set. UConn’s defense will need to be at the top of its game if they’re going to stop Cincinnati’s high-powered offense.
Coach Grunwald spoke about preparations for Cincinnati as well, saying, “Against UC, we need to be ready to defend Thompson whether she is front row or back row while still not relinquishing our responsibilities for their other attackers.
Grunwald understands the challenge that Thompson presents to the Huskies, as she can create distractions for the defense without even touching the ball.
Cincinnati is led by sixth year head coach Molly Alvey, who earned American Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2016.
This will be a great early season test for UConn, as it’ll be able to determine where it stands in comparison to other top teams in The American Conference.
Sam Newton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.