After losing a Thursday matchup against Butler University, the University of Connecticut volleyball team capped off their regular season with a victory on Friday in an impressive comeback over Xavier University.
In the first set of Thursday’s match, the Huskies and the Bulldogs began in a tight contest as UConn found itself up 10-8. The Bulldogs went on a 3-0 run to stave off the momentum. Later in the frame, defensive specialist Mia Ruffolo served up an ace to tie the set at 24-all, but Butler took the next three points to take the set.
In the second, the Bulldogs quickly doubled up the Huskies, 14-7, aided by a 6-0 run to begin the set. Kills from UConn’s Kennadie Jake-Turner and Caylee Parker made things interesting, bringing the score to a 21-17 game, but Butler went on a 4-2 streak to close the frame.
In the third set, the Bulldogs again started off hot with a 5-0 run to force UConn to take an early timeout. The Huskies tried to mount another comeback as Jake-Turner went for two straight kills to tie it up at 18-all, but it was Butler that took seven of the next eight points to win the set and finish the sweep of the Huskies.
UConn’s Jake-Turner led all players with 12 kills, while McKayla Wuensch continued to assert herself as the Assist Queen, recording a game-high 32 assists, 14 more than any player in the match and 29 more than the next-best Husky. Parker, Davis and Ruffolo all recorded an ace, while Taylor Pannell and Karly Berkland both led UConn with five blocks and 12 digs, respectively.
After the loss, UConn had a quick turnaround in the form of a matchup against Xavier the next day. The game, UConn’s last of the regular season and the final match to take place at Gampel Pavilion this season was also the Huskies’ Senior Night. Rolling out their entire senior class in the starting lineup, UConn used back-to-back blocks to knot the opening set 16-16. The Musketeers would go up 24-20, but three consecutive points for the Huskies fended off the decisive match point, though Xavier would eventually take the opening set.
In the second, the Musketeers stormed out to a 10-2 advantage and began to pull away with the score 23-16. The Huskies went on a 4-0 run to cut their deficit down to three, though Xavier would take the final two points to win the second set.
In the third set, and with the Huskies on the brink of their second consecutive sweep, both teams exchanged points and the score held at 20-all. UConn’s Allie Garland and Wuensch went for back-to-back kills before Davis concluded the set in the Huskies favor with a swing from the left side as the Huskies, forcing a fourth frame and reinvigorating the crowd.
Both teams continued to exchange points through the start of the fourth set, but it was the Huskies that found themselves up 15-11, and continued to stay in command before closing the frame with a 4-0 run to force a winner-take-all fifth set.
Parker went off for four kills to start the fifth set as UConn jumped out to a 6-2 grip. The Huskies maintained the upper hand as Davis bookended a 3-0 spurt to make it a 12-8 game, and Parker capped the remarkable comeback with her 20th kill for the final dagger.
On Senior Night, UConn’s box score was filled up by seniors Parker and Jake-Turner, as well as graduate student Wuensch. Parker led the team in both kills and aces, while Wuesch led the team in both assists and digs. Jake-Turner and Garland combined for the team lead with five blocks apiece.
The Huskies finished off one of the best seasons in program history with a final record of 21-9, including an impressive 13-5 record against conference opponents. After clinching a spot in this year’s Big East Tournament, the Huskies will officially begin tournament play as the third seed. UConn will hope to keep their championship hopes alive when they take the court in a Big East semifinal matchup this Friday in Milwaukee.