By David F.P. [UConn 2009 Volleyball Modest Image Gallery]
STORRS, CT- For the second match of the night, the atmosphere got raucous as the Long Island University Blackbirds came into Gampel to take on the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies had a lot of backup this night as fans crowded in, the pep band was in place, and the university president sat several rows up cheering the team on. When play started Connecticut would carry the day in three straight sets, but LIU gave the home team quite a game.
Set 1 opened with Connecticut pulling out to a 12-6 lead prompting a Long Island time out. The points for the Huskies came from Rebecca Murray’s smash off the defense, a LIU spike out of bounds following a great defensive save from Jessica Isaac, a Mattison Quayle kill, another point followed, LIU committed a lift, Jordan Kirk smacked a kill in, Chauntay Mickens unleashed a rocket, LIU served out of bounds, and attacked out of bounds, Mickens came up with a spike that the defense had trouble returning, and soon afterward landed an attack just in bounds, Quayle then whammed the ball off a blocker. LIU’s points originated mainly from spike kills, and a U of C serve out of bounds.
After the time out LIU picked up a point when Svetlana Simic’s spike hit the net and dropped to the floor, Samantha Arriaran on the next play utilized a fake set in which she appeared to be waiting to pass the ball but instead knocked it over the net to a gap in the LIU defense. Simic responded with a blast. The teams continued to parry towards a 20-15 Connecticut lead.
The Huskies scored off an LIU serve outside the lines, Kirk receiving a pass and kablamming the ball over the net, an LIU attack error, Quayle hammering a spike off the blockers, Mickens whapping a ball into a gap, LIU spiking out of bounds, and Arriaran and Allison Nickel teaming up on a block. Long Island picked up points thanks to a U of C attack out of bounds, another point, a second Connecticut attack outside the playing area, Kelsi Klikus sending a like spike through the blockers, Martina Racic whacking a spike off the touch of the Huskies, another Connecticut attack out of bounds despite a good save by Keeley Abram, and a second attack out of bounds by the home team despite good plays by Isaac and Abram.
Quayle built on the lead with a kill off the block, but Breanna Cullity responded with a kill of her own. Simic and Ashley Rice then rejected a Connecticut attack with a block, but a Blackbird contact with the net placed the score at 22-17. Simic struck again with a big kill, but Kirk responded with a kill just in bounds. Klikus slammed a ball through the block, and then teamed up with Ashley Rice on a block to place the score at 23-20. Connecticut called a time out for good measure. When play resumed Murray came up with the kill to center, and ended the set with a hammered shot to make it 25-20. Connecticut 1, LIU 0.
Set 2 began with Long Island pulling out to a 3-7 lead thanks to a kill, a Connecticut attack out of bounds, another LIU kill, a teammate’s kill after that, a missed set by Connecticut on a return, a lift error by the Huskies, and Racic unleashing another kill. The Huskies picked up points off an LIU net violations, Murray’s well timed slam of a passed ball, and Mickens’s kill. Connecticut picked up five straight points in part of LIU errors and a Mickens thrashing of the ball to put the home team up 8-7. Racic used a soft touch this time to tap the ball by the defenders, to tie things back up, but a serve into the net placed the Huskies up by 1 again.
Isaac’s service ace and a Murray spike knocked off the blockers put Connecticut up 11-8, though the Huskies hit an antenna and a Simic blast had the score at 11-10. Connecticut called a time out. Play resumed and Lauren Lamberti picked up a kill. U of C attacked out of bounds the next rally, but Quayle and Lamberti had sequential kills off blockers to put the lead at 14-11. Long Island called a time out.
Simic came out of the gates swinging and blasted a kill off the home team and into the seats. Murray responded by putting down a lightly hit ball and it was 15-12. A very long rally ensued with each side countering the other effectively and sending the ball back and forth across the net, eventually Connecticut was unable to return the ball with three hits and the point went to LIU. Cullity and Klikus then picked up a tandem block to pull within 1, though a serve out of bounds returned the Connecticut lead to 2, 16-14.
At this point the Huskies started to shut the door. Murray served up an ace, and on the ensuing back and forth, Arriaran picked up a great save and Nickel and Mickens combined on a block. The score was 18-14. Connecticut served into the net, and Simic picked up a block to make the score 18-16, but a Mickens block, a failed LIU attack and a Mickens skill enhanced the lead to 21-16. Long Island called another time out. A long volley rally followed including good digs by Klikus and Isaac, but ending in Connecticut not being able to return an attack. LIU served into the net the next time out though, and Isaac sent a service ace just in bounds, causing the Blackbirds to hold off thinking it would go out. Another long rally battle ensued, until Lamberti whipped the attack just in bounds to the corner, and another Isaac ace ended the set 25-17. Connecticut 2, LIU 0.
Set 3 opened with Connecticut reaching a 5-1 lead, but any hopes of this being a quick one were dashed when LIU responded with a 6-1 run of their own and the score was soon 6-6. For the home team, Nickel’s block, Mickens’s block, Nickel’s kill, an LIU serve intot he net, another point, and a Arriaran fake set accounted for the six points. L IU scored off an Simic smash, a Connecticut serve into the net, attack out of bounds, and spike into the net, as well as an Ashley Rice block following a long rally featuring good defensive plays by both Isaac and Chelsey Stanton. Ashley Rice then followed her block with a service ace. Connecticut’s own number 11 UC11smashed the ball over to regain the lead, and Murray followed the up with a blast of her own. Klikus picked up two points off a kill off the blockers and out of bounds and then a service ace. Long Island hit an antenna to give the lead back to Connecticut and a another point came Connecticut’s way soon after. Despite a good defensive save from Klikus, Kirk unleashed a hurricane wallop and then followed it the next rally with another kill. LIU called a time out with the score now at 12-8.
When play resumed, the Huskies continued to build a lead with the Blackbirds in hot pursuit. The score got as close as 18-17 at one point before Connecticut called a time out.
LIU picked up points off a Racic kill just in bounds, an Simic kill, a tandem Vanessa Gemignani and Ashley Rice block, a Connecticut serve out of bounds, and several points later a Klikus kill, followed by a U of C spike into the net, a fake set by Racic getting put over for an attack, and a Connecticut lift error. The Huskies scored off an LIU hit out of bounds, a Murray smash, a Mickens big time spike, two LIU spikes out of bounds, and an attack that Long Island could not return.
Following the time out, Quayle smashed a kill off the blockers, and following a long rally she then tapped a ball over the blocking line. With the score 20-17, LIU managed a block just in bounds, though a serve out of bounds the next play gave a 3 point lead back to Connecticut. Racic narrowed the lead again, but Murray tapped an attack in, Simic narrowed the lead again, but Quayle responded with a spike that landed just in bounds near the back line. Following a great defensive save by Arriaran, LIU spiked out of bounds, but scored another point, though one play later the Huskies had won the set and match 25-21, Connecticut 3, LIU 0.