This weekend, the Huskies go on the road again, initiating a second round of American Athletic Conference matches against two teams that have already defeated them. On Friday, UConn will again take the stage against ECU. On Sunday, the team will revisit its history with Cincinnati. Both opponents won 3-0, holding off UConn from taking a single set earlier this fall.
UConn (9-13, 3-7 The American) ended its six-match losing streak last Sunday when it came up with a 3-1 victory against Tulsa (13-10, 6-4 The American), a team that was statistically predicted to be a tough matchup for the Huskies. Coming off the win, UConn aims to not let the past repeat itself in these upcoming rematches.
In Greenville, North Carolina this Friday, the Huskies will have a second opportunity to beat the ECU Pirates (16-8, 3-7 The American) after losing 0-3 on Oct. 13. In the last match, UConn was able to keep within five points of ECU, but fell to a 10-point deficit in the third set.
Still leading the pirates in attacks are juniors Sydney Kleinman (outside hitter) and Bri Wood (rightside hitter); both players have just over 300 kills this season. Senior middle blocker Toya Osuegbu leads the team in blocks (85) and redshirt junior libero Brandee Markwith has a total of 415 digs this season. Overall, the Pirates have a season hitting percentage of .239 (UConn: .189). ECU has been more fruitful than UConn in defense this season as well. It has 186 total blocks (UConn: 145.5) and 1462 digs (UConn: 1213).
Later in the weekend, the Huskies will visit Cincinnati, Ohio to try and avenge their loss against the Cincinnati Bearcats (18-5, 9-1 The American). UConn’s Oct. 11 match against the Bearcats consisted of two 25-14 and one 25-20 set victories by Cincinnati. The Bearcats were clearly the dominant team of the match with an average hitting percentage of .323 compared to UConn’s .155.
Cincinnati’s leader for attacks is redshirt senior right side and outside hitter Jordan Thompson who has made 510 successful kills this season. Sophomores Maria Mallon (outsider hitter) and Mackenzie Connor (libero) both have 231 digs, and significantly adding to the defensive effort is redshirt sophomore middle blocker Damjana Cabarkapa with 49 total blocks. As a team, Cincinnati has an average hitting percentage of .285 and leads UConn in assists. In terms of total digs, UConn is not far behind. Cincinnati’s 117.5 total blocks make it the weaker blocking team.
UConn, which has had a rough season so far but is still glowing from last Sunday’s victory, is consistently led in both kills and digs by sophomore outside hitter Caylee Parker. Parker can be expected to bring a substantial amount of both skills to every match, regardless of the overall results. Another regularly impressive player is redshirt sophomore setter Courtney Morris (631 assists, 15 service aces). Redshirt junior middle blocker Genna Florig (75 blocks) is set to have a strong defensive presence on the court.
If UConn can summon the same energy it had against Tulsa, it can show once again that statistics do not always predict match outcomes. Now more familiar with the dynamics of competition against ECU and Cincinnati, the Huskies can test how much they have learned in the past three weeks. Friday’s match at ECU begins at 7 p.m. and Sunday’s match at Cincinnati starts at noon.
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.