On Wednesday, December 8, the University of Connecticut volleyball team faced off against the North Florida Ospreys in a match that would determine which team’s season continued.
The two teams met in the quarterfinal round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship at a match in Gampel Pavilion. The hometown crowd turned out to support the Huskies, with several hundred in the stands to see the Huskies claim an eventual 3-1 victory in four very close games.
The series started with a close Game 1. Neither team ever had a lead of more than four points, and the Ospreys held the lead early and for most of the game. They fought neck and neck, battling for possession of the lead headed into the last few points of the game when the Huskies went on a pair of three-point streaks late to get them over the finish line with a 25-23 victory.
That would be the closest game of the night as the Ospreys charged into Game 2 looking to even the score. They led by as many as eight points throughout the game and even though the Huskies fought back late, managing to get the score within five, they were unable to mount enough of a comeback to get a chance as the Ospreys claimed the game 25-20, the most lopsided of all four.
The third game was just as close as the first, with the two teams trading points amid impressive play by both their stars. The Ospreys continued their early dominance, at once point holding a 11-6 lead. On the back of strong play by McKayla Wuensch, who had 44 of her team’s 55 assists in the match, the Huskies fought back and took the lead at 19-18, keeping it for the rest of the set.
The Huskies claimed a 25-21 victory in that set, moving onto the fourth and getting a chance to clinch the series then and there. The fourth set was as close as the three before it, but this time it was the Huskies who took a relatively early lead, beginning when the score was 12-13.
The Huskies’ kept the lead for the rest of the match on the back of strong play by Kaylee Parker and Wuensch. Wuensch in particular was strong at the end of the match, getting the credit for the kill that secured the team’s 25-21 victory with an assist from Parker.
The Huskies’ Taylor Pannell and Caylee Parker dominated throughout the match, with 18.5 and 17 points respectively. On the other side of the court, the Ospreys’ Solimar Cestero and Kailey McKnight were impressive, with 12.5 and 13 points, respectively. McKnight also had two aces, further helping her team.
Now, the Huskies look ahead towards the semifinal round of the tournament. They’ll be playing again on Friday, when they take on Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana at 8 p.m.