It’s been a historic season for the University of Connecticut women’s volleyball team. After a successful season that saw an eventual third seed in the Big East (and a subsequent loss to Marquette in the semifinals), the team has continued its season with a successful run in the National Invitational Volleyball Championship.
Following away wins last weekend against North Carolina A&T State University and Boston College, the team came home to compete in its first home postseason game this year. It battled against North Florida, eventually earning a hard-fought 3-1 victory after a series of close games.
Now, the team looks toward the semifinals where it hopes to continue its streak of wins against Valparaiso. Valparaiso, a university in Indiana, has had a very strong season so far with a 25-9 record. The team has won all three of its matches so far in the NIVC (3-0), knocking out Butler, Toledo and Evansville.
Valparaiso will be the biggest challenge for the Huskies this postseason. Valparaiso has been dominant throughout their NIVC run while the Huskies, though they’ve looked good, have dropped games in their wins over both Boston College and North Florida.
The Huskies will continue to rely on strong play from their stars, including McKayla Wuensch, Caylee Parker and Kennadie Jake-Turner. Parker and Wuensch especially excelled against North Florida, with Parker getting 17 points while Wuensch got 44 of the team’s 55 assists. Another player who excelled on Wednesday was Taylor Pannell, who had a season high of 18.5 points.
On the other side of the court, Valparaiso has often relied on powerhouses like Peyton McCarthy, Haley Hart and Bella Ravotto. McCarthy has a team-high of 418 points this season, while Hart leads the team in blocks and Ravotto leads in aces. They’ll be looking to beat back the offensive efforts by the Huskies’ trio.
One big issue for the Huskies is the Beacons have been very good at home this year, and this will be a home game for them. They’ve only lost one home game (which was to Illinois State 3-1 back in November) and won 11 this year, including three in this tournament. Beating this team on its home court has been difficult and that’s a challenge UConn will have to overcome.
The Huskies also have not excelled in away games, for which they have a 6-6 record — far worse than their combined 18-4 record in home and neutral games.
The Huskies and Beacons will face off Friday night at 8 p.m. in a home game for the Beacons in Valparaiso, Indiana.