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Young Great Danes Battle Tough But Fall to UConn, Northeastern

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Young Great Danes Battle Tough But Fall to UConn, Northeastern

UConn Box Score | NU Box Score

STORRS, Conn. – A team that put as many as six freshmen on the floor at a time got better as the day went on, but UAlbany fell in a pair of matches on Saturday in the UConn Classic to Connecticut (12-25, 15-25, 11-25) and Northeastern (13-25, 28-30, 18-25).

“Our freshmen gained invaluable experience today, and continued to grow as the tournament went on,” says coach MJ Engstrom. “We had players playing positions that had barely played before coming here and learning new skills.  I am proud of these girls and they will continue to get better.”

In the first match, UAlbany (0-6) look to its freshmen early to carry the team.  Early kills from Mikala McCauley and Olivia Schonewise kept the Great Danes close at 4-3.  UAlbany struggled as UConn won eight of the next nine points to go up 12-4.  After a UConn (3-3) service error, Tatum Jungsten crushed a ball down to the right corner to try to spur a comeback as UAlbany trailed 12-6.  The home team went on a 6-0 run to go up 18-6.  At 21-8 Huskies, UAlbany put together three straight points, capped by an Amanda Dolan kill and McCauley solo block, but UConn took the first game 25-12.

Schonewise earned a personal 3-0 run to put UAlbany in front 4-1 to start set two.  After an exchange points, UConn went on a 5-0 run, eventually going up 9-6.  The Great Danes countered by winning five of the next seven points, capped by a Dolan kill and block combo with Amy Hunter to tie the score at 11.  The Huskies got seven straight points, where Dolan stopped the run with a solo block.  Jungsten later got a kill, but UConn took the second set 25-15 and went up 2-0 in the match.

Early on, a Dolan kill and a couple of Hunter solo blocks push UAlbany in front of set three 3-2.  The Huskies went in front on a 6-0 run for a 8-3 advantage as UAlbany called timeout.  Hunter stopped the run on a kill in the middle, but another 3-0 run by UConn made it 11-4.  A service error and McCauley kill put the Great Danes two points closer as they tried to fight back.  UConn took eight of the next nine points to go up 19-7.  UAlbany tried to comeback in the set with kills from McCauley and Schonewise, but UConn pulled away to win the third set 25-11 and win the match.

The Great Danes look to regroup in the night match against Northeastern (3-4).  An ace and a couple of kills help NU start on a 4-0 run.  Schonewise got the first kill for UAlbany to stop the run, and later another, but five straight points for NU put the Huskies up 12-2.  Troubles continued as NU built its lead to 18-4.  The team kept its composure as McCauley earned three kills late and the squad earned a couple of 3-0 runs, but NU took the set 25-13.

A Dolan-Schonewise combo block, an NU attack error and a Dolan kill gave UAlbany a 3-0 lead to start set two.  After an exchange of a couple of points, Hunter earned a kill to start a 3-0 run, giving the team a 7-2 advantage.  A 9-6, the Great Danes used a pair of Rivera combo blocks in a 3-0 run to lead 12-6, later leading 14-7.  NU won four straight before a Schonewise kill ended the run.  NU kept getting closer, but UAlbany kept earning kills to hold the lead.  At 18-16, Jungsten had a kill on an over, then McCauley attacked from the outside that hit a back row player in the head to go up 20-16.  Engstrom called timeout at 20-18, which was followed by a service error.  Trouble came as a 5-0 NU gave the Huskies a 23-21 lead.  The Danes buckled down in back-and-forth rallies, earning kills to tie it up at 23-23.  The two teams battled in exchanges, with NU going ahead and Hunter getting an outside kill to tie it up on three occasions.  On the next NU chance, Sofia Furlong subbed in and blocked a shot with Jungsten on the outside.  But at 29-28, an attack error gave the point and set to NU 30-28 to put Northeastern up 2-0 in the match.

In the third set, UAlbany’s attacks found their mark early.  Five Great Dane kills in the first seven points, including two from Schonewise, push the team up 5-2 to start.  NU countered with a 4-0 run, which was stopped on a hard strike by Jungsten in the middle.  The two sides went back-and-forth until at 8-8, NU won the next five points.  The young team struck back with a 5-0 run, four of them off kills capped by two from Hunter, to tie it back up at 13.  Following an exchange of points, the Huskies got three straight kills from Kelly Bacon, starting an eventual 7-0 run.  Kills from Hunter and Jungsten stopped the streak, but the deficit proved too much, and the third set was lost 25-18.  NU took the match 3-0.

Schonewise led the Great Danes in kills on the day with 19, earning a double double against Northeastern with 12 kills and 11 digs.  Dolan combined to earn 10 kills and seven blocks, while McCauley concluded with 12 kills and 23 digs.

UAlbany returns home and will prepare for the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, North Carolina next weekend.  The first match will be against James Madison at 4 p.m. at the Carmichael Auditorium.

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