By David F.P.
STORRS, CT- In the nightcap of Friday night action, the University of Hartford Hawks took on the University of Connecticut Huskies.
Set 1 turned out to be a very close affair with the Huskies eventually edging the visitors 25-23. Hartford pulled out to a 10-7 lead, but the Huskies eventually fought back to a 14-14 tie and the two sides continued trading points.
As always with recaps I tend to focus on the offensive, as it is hard enough to follow the fast paced action, but this is not to in any way downgrade the importance of key sets and key defensive plays. I do note defensive saves whenever I have time to write them down.
Highlights for UConn included Mattison Quayle opening up the scoring for her team off the block, and Jordan Kirk followed with with a service ACE, Quayle then unleashed another kill. Kirk added another kill later, and Morgan Freeman got in on the action with a kill. Rebecca Murray added a kill to a gap. Connecticut’s new libero Kelsey Maving, picked up some good saves. Freeman and Allison Nickel combined on a block. Murray added a smash to cut the Hartford lead, and later Kirk had a nothing hammered blast. Murray received a set and blasted the ball off the block, and Nickel had winning point of the set with her kill.
Hartford’s highlights were Lindsay Swan’s tip off the defenders and out of bounds. She teamed with Lindsay Makowicki on a block soon afterward. Michelle Cordell hit to a gap, and Makowicki delivered a spike. Kami Nethersole had a good save which set up a Swan and Cordell block. Cordell added a kill off the defense and out of bounds. Sydney Scott tapped the ball down later on. Lindsay Ford saved the ball during a rally, but no points resulted. Nethersole had a solo block, and a kill right afterward, before adding another big kill afterward.
In Set 2, UConn pulled out to a lead and didn’t let Hartford back in the door. This was basically started by Kirk’s big kill, and an ace from Murray. Other highlights include Nickel’s kill off the defense, and Cayla Broadwater added a kill of her own. Later in the set Quayle had a good save, but Hartford picked up a point. Nickel served up an ace afterward. Kirk later delivered another hammer shot, and several points later another blast. Broadwater added a kill, and UConn kept rolling.
Hartford’s highlights included a kill from Cordell early on that was just in bounds, Scott tapped the ball over for a point after that. Later on Dionna Kirton added a kill, and her teammate Ford served up an Ace. Nethersole added a spike off the blockers. Late in the set, Scott received a set and delivered a smash. An errant UConn set sailed over the net and was whacked back for a point by Scott. Scott added another kill later, as did Swan. The last Hartford point was scored by Nethersole spiking the ball cross court.
In set 3, UConn really got the jump on the scoring and pulled out to a lead and stayed there eventually winning 25-13 to take the set and the match. Husky highlights started with a string of points including Murray’s two consecutive service Aces, and a Quayle kill off the block. Murray stepped into serve later and picked up an ace. Quayle delivered another kill not long afterward. Murray’s kill added to the lead, as did Maving’s service Ace, which prompted a Hartford time out. Nickel came up with a whap to center, and much later Murray picked up another kill, followed by a titanic smash from Kirk. Later on Freeman crushed the ball into the zone and served up an Ace immediately following that. The Huskies picked up a big block for their 23rd, point, and Nickel sent the ball off the defense. During the set/match point Maving came up with a solid save as did members of both teams, before UConn scored the eventual game winner.
This would mark the first match of the tourney for both teams.