After a rough start to UConn’s Big East Competition, the Huskies returned home to Storrs for the first time in weeks to face No. 21 Creighton and Xavier at Gampel Pavilion.
On Friday morning, the squad hung out outside of Gampel Pavilion and encouraged students passing by to attend the game later that night. This helped bring excitement towards the team and positive energy after the Huskies have been on the road for so long.
Friday night’s game against Creighton was a competitive battle but ultimately the Huskies fell to the Bluejays 3-2.
From the start, it was a tight matchup and both teams never backed down. Around the middle of the first set, senior Caylee Parker placed the perfect kill which got the team and the crowd hyped up. This play sparked UConn to gain a three point lead, forcing Creighton to take a timeout when they were down 11-8, helping the Bluejays tie the set at 15-15.
After Creighton had tied the set at 15, UConn captured a 24-21 lead. Before the Huskies could secure the first set, Creighton scored a few more points to keep it going. In the end, UConn took the first set from the Bluejays 25-23. This was Creighton’s first set loss in conference play this season, as they have swept all four of the previous Big East teams they faced. Parker paced the team with six kills in the first set and 18 total.
After UConn’s hot start, it began the second set by gaining a 5-1 lead. Once again, Creighton fought their way back up to earn the lead. But, the Huskies also clawed their way back to get to a one point differential. Junior Taylor Pannell fired a kill over the net to force this set back to a tie. Pannell set the tone with her plays to keep the Huskies in the game and their momentum going.
There was a point where Creighton had the power over the second set but it did not prevent the Huskies from trailing close behind. UConn rallied back to a 20-19 lead, forcing another Creighton timeout. If anything, the Huskies know how to put pressure on their opponents and have been using it to their advantage in these Big East matchups. Extending its lead to 2-0, UConn won the second set 25-21.
Trailing by two, Creighton came out strong in the third set with a 7-3 lead over the Huskies. Creighton continued their hot streak and pushed their lead to 17-10. Although the Bluejays kept building their lead, the Huskies kept fighting to get back.
Parker was a persistent leader for the Huskies as she stepped up in the times when they were down. Leading the Huskies in blocks, senior Kennadie Jake-Turner played tough when the Bluejays were ahead. UConn ended up dropping the set to Creighton 25-15, making the overall score 2-1 Huskies.
Similar to the third set, Creighton took full control in the fourth set going 20-6 over the Huskies. UConn attempted to rally by scoring four points while Creighton was at set point. Although the Huskies put up a fight, Creighton won the fourth set 25-12 and tied the match 2-2, forcing a fifth set to decide the game winner.
Both teams came out strong in the fifth set which consisted of nine ties and six lead changes.
The game started slipping away from the Huskies when Creighton got a 12-9 lead. When Creighton reached match point, kills from seniors Jasmine Davis and Allie Garland brought UConn within one, 14-13. After a called timeout and hard fought battle, UConn dropped the final set 15-13 and lost to Creighton 3-2.
The Huskies had a quick turnaround as they hosted Xavier on Saturday night at Gampel Pavilion.
Garland led the team with her career high 16 kill game that brought UConn to win its first match in Big East conference play. The Huskies had a hot 11-6 start against Xavier which forced a quick timeout from the Musketeers. UConn cruised through the first set to beat Xavier 25-19. Parker finished off the set with a kill, making the game 1-0 UConn.
Throughout the second set the score was back and forth without any team gaining a distinct lead. Once Xavier reached set point, UConn called a time out but ultimately dropped the only set to the Blue Jays 27-25, tying the game 1-1.
In the third set, UConn picked up a lead over Xavier 21-15. Garland put the Huskies to set point and Parker finished it off with a kill. They won the set 25-21 and took a 2-1 game lead.
Trying to secure a win, Parker started the set serving and built up momentum for the Huskies with a 5-0 start to the fourth set. Davis made back-to-back kills putting the Huskies up 11-4. Senior Madi Whitmire also contributed to UConn’s run with a block that extended the lead 17-10. To cap off a career-high night, Garland fired the final kill of the match, 25-17. UConn defeated Xavier 3-1, getting its first Big East victory after a slow start to conference play.
UConn had a season-high 84 digs and four Huskies who finished with double-digits in the match against Xavier. Parker (15 kills, 16 digs), Davis (15 kills, 13 digs), Madi Whitmire (45 kills, 19 digs) and senior Karly Berkland (24 digs, 12 assists).
Next week the Huskies will remain home to host Villanova on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 12 p.m. and Georgetown on Saturday, Oct. 15, at 3 p.m., all at Gampel Pavilion.