This Halloweekend, the UConn women’s volleyball team returns to Gampel Pavilion to battle Wichita State Friday and Tulsa Sunday.
UConn is currently halfway through its season in the American Athletic Conference. Having lost their last five matches, the Huskies have a good chance to end their losing streak Friday and a more challenging matchup Sunday.
The Wichita State Shockers (5-15, 2-6 The American) look to be the easier opponent of the two visiting Storrs this weekend. Wichita State and UConn (8-12, 2-6 The American) matchup evenly in conference rankings, with identical records in The American and losses to the same teams each played (with the exception of Memphis, which the Shockers beat in a fifth set whereas UConn fell in a fifth set).
UConn has played Wichita State four times, losing three of the matches. The most recent, however, was won by UConn 3-0 in 2018.
The Shockers have more kills so far this season (842 to UConn’s 829), but the margin is small and opponents have scored more kills on Wichita State than they have on UConn (1007 to 897). In terms of blocks, assists and service aces, the stats are just as close between the two teams. The main difference is in digs: Wichita State has had 1100 and UConn 989.
Wichita State is led in kills by redshirt sophomore outside hitter Megan Taflinger. Senior libero Kara Bown leads in digs (236) and service aces (17). Junior middle blocker Emme Wright has the most blocks (58) and junior setter McKayle Wuensch has the most assists (391) this season.
On Sunday, the Tulsa Hurricanes (19-9, 5-3 The American) come to Gampel Pavilion standing on a stronger record than the Huskies. Although UConn has lost eight out of its 10 past matches against Tulsa, its 2018 match was a 3-0 victory.
As a team, the Hurricanes are statistically dominant over the Huskies both offensively and defensively. Tulsa has had significantly more kills (1037 to 829), blocks (184 to 150.5), digs (1313 to 989), assists (965 to 780) and service aces (91 to 72) than UConn this season. With the exception of service aces, these numbers are also higher than the totals their opponents have scored against them.
Individually, Tulsa is led in kills by freshman outside hitter Dilara Gedikoglu (318). Digs are mostly performed by senior libero Taylor Horsfall (473), blocks by junior middle blocker Callie Cook (89) and assists by sophomore setter Roosa Rautio (455). If these players perform together the way they have so far this season, the Huskies can expect a difficult matchup.
UConn’s leaders can still bring a strong response to both teams. Sophomore outside hitter Cayler Parker now has a total of 248 kills and 180 digs individually. Redshirt junior middle blocker Genna Florig has a season total of 67 blocks and redshirt sophomore setter Courtney Morris has a record of 544 assists this fall.
On this spooky upcoming weekend, the Huskies do not need to be frightened of Wichita State, their similar opponent, but the Tulsa is expected to be a tricky matchup if UConn wants to treat itself to a win.
Judah Shingleton is a campus correspondent and senior staff photographer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets @ByJudah.