Women’s volleyball hopes to start strong in Big East play  

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A week after sweeping the Dog Pound Challenge, the University of Connecticut women’s volleyball team will host Seton Hall and St. John’s to open up Big East Conference play. 

Junior Allie Garland is coming off an MVP performance from this past week, and she had the honor of being named to the conference’s honor roll. Meanwhile, senior Caylee Parker is fresh off a historic weekend herself, as she became the 14th player in team history to record 1,000 career kills.  

The first matchup of the weekend will feature Seton Hall as it faces off against the Huskies in Gampel Pavilion. The Pirates come into Big East play with an 8-6 record on the season following a three-set sweep of NJIT on Tuesday. UConn is 20-12 all-time against Seton Hall , and thhe Huskies must pay attention to two particular Pirates if they want to add to that winning record. 

Sophomore Perri Lucas leads the Seton Hall offense this season, averaging 2.92 kills per set, and she is the only member of the Pirates who has recorded more than  100 kills this season (with 140). On the flip side, Amanda Rachwal captains the defense. She is third in the conference in hitting percentage at .352, and second in blocks per set at 1.39. The Huskies will have their hands full all match as they look to start conference play with a win on Friday.  

UConn will continue Big East play on Saturday as they take on St. John’s. After a slow start to the season, the Red Storm have found their stride, winning eight of their last nine matches and sitting just behind UConn and Villanova for the fourth best winning percentage in the Big East. UConn’s all-time record of 15-11 against St. John’s will be challenged this weekend by the Red Storm’s offensive duo. 

Unlike the balance between Seton Hall’s two stars, the Red Storm is spearheaded by two offensive talents in Rachele Rastelli and Tiziana Baumrukova. Rastelli leads  the entire conference in kills per set with 4.22, and she has also recorded double-digit kills in all but three of her matches this season. Rastelli has benefitted from an incredible assisting season from Baumrukova, who leads the conference in assists per set at 11.13. Baumrukova  has dished out more than 40 assists eight times this season. Senior Kennadie Jake-Turner  and the rest of UConn’s defense will have their skills tested against this dangerous St. John’s duo.  

UConn will host Seton Hall at 7 p.m. Friday  and  St. John’s at 5 p.m. Saturday. Make sure to show out for your Huskies this weekend as they begin their quest for another postseason appearance and a Big East Conference title.  

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