UConn Volleyball returns home for match versus North Florida  

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The UConn Huskies lose to the Butler Bulldogs 0-3 at one of their last matches of the regual season at Gampel Pavilion on Nov. 18. Despite the loss, Setter McKayla Wuensch (5) made her 2,000 career assist during the game. Photo by Eric Knapp.

Last week, the UConn women’s volleyball team began its first run at the National Invitational Volleyball Championship for the first time in the tournament’s modern era.  

The UConn volleyball team ended their first postseason bid this year with a loss in the Big East Championship to Marquette, 0-3. Now, the team has a second chance to perform in the postseason and at NIVC for the first time ever. 

Last weekend, they claimed their first two victories at NIVC in the program’s history; a 3-0 over North Carolina A&T State University and a 3-2 over Boston College. Now, the team’s eyes look forward, towards the next game. North Carolina awaits.  

This is the third round of the tournament. If the Huskies are able to escape today they’ll make the semifinal  in what is already the first NIVC that they’ve ever won a game in. This is the first time the Huskies have been at this tournament since 1994, a year before the end of the first iteration of the tournament, and their win over North Carolina A&T was their first win. Now, they’re going for their third. 

This will be without question the hardest test this postseason for the Huskies. North Florida, the Ospreys, are a team that won 25 series so far this season, while losing just seven. Their first game in the NIVC tournament was cancelled after UNC Greensboro withdrew due to COVID-19 protocols, giving them a free path to a game against Troy.  

They defeated Troy, who had an 18-12 record coming into that series, in a 3-0 where they won every game by at least six points. Now, they’re facing the Huskies, who barely scraped past Boston College in a back-and-fourth five game series that pushed both teams to their limits.  

UConn will be hoping for strong performances from players like Caylee Parker. Parker was named an AVCA East Coast All-Region Honorable Mention and  was also named to the ALL-BIG EAST Tournament team a few weeks ago, making her the first player to get such an accolade since 2003. 

The two teams have never played each other, and the Ospreys have never played in Connecticut at all. This is a historic matchup for both teams who are vying so fiercely for a spot in next week’s semifinal round. The only Big East team the Ospreys played this season was Seton Hall, who they defeated early on in the season. The Huskies, who played Seton Hall twice, won once 3-0 and then lost late in the season 1-3.  

The home-field advantage could benefit the Huskies, who played both games last week in Massachusetts. They’ve got a 13-3 record at home, better than their 6-6 away, and that advantage is one that could be very helpful if this series is nearly as close as the one last weekend against BC was. 

The match between North Florida and the University of Connecticut begins Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Conn.  

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