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UConn avoids scare, tops UNH 3-1 in Volleyball

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by David F. P. [UConn 2009 Volleyball Modest Image Gallery]

STORRS, CT- UConn continued to host it’s Toyota Tournament by taking on UNH.
Set 1 opened up with some good defense as Taylor Dressing and Heldman both had good saves as did Jessica Isaac. Jordan Kirk then blasted a ball off the block to put Connecticut up by 1. A four hit error by UNH made it 2-0, but the Huskies committed and error of their own and it was 2-1, followed by a Lauren Laguerre service ace, Kirk replied with a massive spike, Unh committed an attack error, and Chauntay Mickens blasted a kill off the defense to bring it to 5-2. Justine Elliott fired back for a point, but three straight Connecticut points would follow and it was soon 8-3. A serve out of bounds gave Unh a point, but Connecticut picked up two more off of Rebecca Murray’s kill just in bounds and UNH’s failure to return another attack. It was 10-4.

On the next play Heldman and Kate Uitti came up with big defensive saves, as would become their habit during the match. But a tap out of bounds brought Connecticut another point. Uitti sent a ball to the back gap to put UNH back within 6, 11-5, but Allison Nickel had a smash off the block to the ground to make it 12-5. The Wildcats called a time out to regroup.

Kirk opened play up again with one of her many kills, but three straight various errors by Connecticut brought the score to 13-8. UNH attacked out of bounds to make it 14-8, and despite good defense by Heldman on the next rally another error put Connecticut up 15-8. Elliott’s block stopped the bleeding, but Mattison Quayle responded to keep the lead at 7.

One of the longest rallies of the match followed this and Laquerre and Elliott were among the players to have key defensive plays as the ball kept going back and forth. In the end Elliott would blast it in for the ‘Cats 10th point. Connecticut called a time out. UNH had at this point been successfully parrying nearly all of Connecticut’s attacks and blocks thanks to a hyper defense which was seemingly making points impossible at least to a layman. When play resumed Elliott picked up another point and two more errors followed. The score was now 16-13. Murray found a corner to hammer a ball into, and Kirk followed that with a service ace to put Connecticut back up by 5. But a serve into the net, put things at 18-14. Heldman and Uitti came up with more good defense, but Mickens hit an attack the visitors could not find a way to return. Nickel and Samantha Arriaran then teamed up on a block to the defense’s left corner and it was 20-14. UNH called another time out to regroup.

Dressing came out of the gate with a big spike, and Lindsey Fogarty added another point with her own kill. The Huskies whapped the ball into an antenna and it was now 20-17. Mickens ended the run with her blast, but a two contact error by the home team led to a 21-18 score. Fogarty then unleashed a kill, and another Husky two contact error put the score at 21-20. Quayle smashed a ball off the block, but yet another antenna error kept the score razor thing at 22-21. UNH served out of bounds, but immediately picked up a point afterwards to still be down by 1. When Laquerre and Elliott shared a block the score was tied. Kirk broke the tie with a shot off several defenders and out of bounds, but an attack error by U of C tied it at 24. A net violation came next and UNH now led 24-25. Kirk tied it back up and Murray picked up a block, but the Huskies served into the net to tie it back up 26-26. Fogarty spiked it just within the lines to regain the lead, but the next play the Wildcats spiked it into the net. Connecticut responded by attacking into the net as well, but Mickens knocked one of the defense to tie it at 18. UNH found another corner to hit the ball into and it was 28-29, and a Connecticut net violation gave the Wildcats set 1, 28-30. UNH 1, Connecticut 0.

Set 2 opened with the teams battling to a 3-3 tie, off of Quayle picking up a kill, a tip over the net, and another spike, to get the Huskies their 3 points, and UNH benefited from a Connecticut error, a Kirsten Bates and Laquerre tandem block, and a double contact error on the home team. Isaac picked up several key digs during these exchanges though. Connecticut tore off to a 7-4 lead when UNH served into the net, Murray hammered a UNH set that had sailed over the net in, the Wildcats hit out of bounds, and committed a two hit error. Connecticut surrendered a point with a serve out of bounds, but now had a bit of a lead.

The lead grew to 10-5 off a Kirk tip over to a gap, a UNH serve out of bounds, and Murray and Keeley Abram blocking a ball hard to the corner. Connecticut gave up a point along the way, but picked up an 11th when Mickens and Murray delivered a block. Quayle also performed a key defensive save when UNH tried a misdirection. UNH scored when Pauline Acres tipped the ball to the gap, but Connecticut’s own number 10 Mickens responded with a kill off the blockers and the score was 12-6.

UNH picked up three straight points including a Fogarty service ace and the Connecticut led was cut in half to 12-9. The Huskies called a time out and immediately started building a lead when play resumed. Murray tipped the ball over the net , Quayle hit a soft spike, and followed that by ending a long rally battle with a tap to the gap. Isaac was continuing to come up with a variety of key digs. The run ended when Fogarty came up with a kill but the score was 15-10. The home team would give up a point on an error, but pick up two more thanks to the prolific Quayle.

UNH called a time out and emerged swinging with a Amy Keding tip over cutting the lead to 5. A long rally followed with Starsha Tunstall and Uitti picking up saves, but Kirk had the last laugh with a big time kill. With the score 18-12, the Wildcats roared back bringing the score to 18-16 in part off a few Connecticut miscues, though Kirk not unexpectedly ended that run with her kill. UNH hit back with a spike, but Abram’s response was a fake set and instead she turned to attack picking up the U of C’s 20th point. UNH was not going way and Fogarty hit another kill and Connecticut committed an attack error. The visitors served into the net, and were unable to return a Connecticut attack to bring the set to 22-19. The Huskies served into the net and Fogarty yet again struck to slice the lead to 1, but Mickens hacked a kill in, only to have Laquerre responded with a smash of her own. A two hit error though put UNH down by 2, 24-22. With set point on the line, Connecticut gave up another point, but Kirk landed a kill just in bounds to end the suspense and set 25-23. UNH1 , Connecticut 1

Set 3 began with UNH on a tear, pulling out a 2-7 lead off a block, a UNH 15 spike kill, UNh2 and Elliott’s block, Acres and Fogarty’s kill, and a few Connecticut errors. The U of C offense consisted of Kirk’s spike to open the set and Quayle’s point. Connecticut called a time out to assess and regroup, and picked up 3 points in a row off Wildcat errors and Abram’s kill, though UNH picked one right back to make it 5-8. This did not faze Connecticut and Murray’s kill cut the lead to 1, and UC18 picked up a service Ace off the defense and out of bounds. A two contact error put the visitors back up by 2, 7-9.

But the battling continued to a 13-13 tie. Fogarty and Uitti had a block, Fogarty had her own big kill Elliott spiked in a shot, and another kill followed for the cats. But Connecticut had Kirk and Murray’s block, a UNH error, Kirk’s kill, and then a titanic blast from her again that flew off the defense and wayyy out of bounds. Added to that was a kill from Nickel and a lift error on the Wildcats. Dressing broke the tie with a smash which hit a defender and ricocheted into the 5th row of seats but Lauren Lamberti’s cross court blast tied it up again.

The team’s fought to 18-18 with Elliott scoring another block, and a long rally included Uitti playing stellar D to keep the ball into play long enough for Acres to hit through a block. Acres and Fogarty then shared a block of their own and Jayde Huxtable unleashed a service ace. Connecticut accepted some points from some Wildcat errors to put the score at the tie, and then another error gave Connecticut the lead 19-18. Quayle kept the run going with a service ace and Kirk let loose a cross court hammer to make it 21-18. A Connecticut attack hit the antenna to bring it to 21-19. A long long rally ensued including good saves by Isaac and Huxtable, but was ended with a Wildcat spike just in bounds. Fogarty then came up with a huge block to make it 21-21. Connecticut called a time out.

It is not at all surprising at this point that Kirk opened things up with a kill, though U of C hit out of bounds to keep the score tied. Kirk hit one cross court to a gap, though Laquerre came up with a kill following that. A two hit error on the UNH gave the Huskies a 24-23 advantage. A Wildcat time out did not prevent Lamberti from spiking just in bounds to end the set 25-23. UCONN 2, UNH 1

Then came Set 4. Connecticut pulled out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a Wildcat error, two service ace’s by Arriaran, a Kirk blast, and a UNH attack error. Arriaran then added to the lead when she faked a set, spun and hit the ball over. UNH got on the board with a kill from Keding, but Kirk had a kill of her own off the block, though UNH responded with a Elliott attack just in bounds. The visitors hit the ball out of bounds on a return, and Isaac picked up a service ace to place the score at 9-2. New Hampshire called a time out quickly. The match soon reached 10-6. Elliott had a tip over, Fogarty hammered a shot, and then later a second kill. Connecticut gave up an error, but Lamberti scored another kill to bring it to 10-6. Two errors by UNH put Connecticut up 12-6, but Fogarty bounced a kill off the defenders and out of bounds, and the home team put up a lift error to make the score 12-8. Connecticut called a time out.

Play resumed with the home squad pulling ahead to a 15-10 lead off a UNH error, an a Murray Ace, added to a Kirk tip. UNH had a Laquerre spike, and a Fogarty ace as well. Good defense by Sara Heldman paid off as her teammate Elliott delivered a kill. Lamberti had a kill in response, and following good defensive play by Kirk, Quayle tipped over the block to extend the lead, and then added a second cross court kill in a row, and a third kill after that. It was 19-11 and UNH called time with the set and match on the line.

When play resumed, guess what, Quayle delivered another kill. Acres whapped a ball off the block to stop the run, and Dressing came up with a block. Following some more good d by Isaac, Abram brought on a point. Fellow good defender Uitti had key saves to set up Acres’s spike, and a Connecticut two hit penalty made it 21-15. Two errors by the Wildcats started to close the door, but Fogarty hit through off the blockers to keep the team alive. Two straight points by Connecticut would end the set and the match however. 25-16. Connecticut 3, UNH 1

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