Volleyball Falls to Connecticut and No. 9 Minnesota to Open Dartmouth Duel

HANOVER, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire volleyball team was defeated by Connecticut and ninth-ranked Minnesota as the Wildcats opened play at the Dartmouth Duel Friday afternoon.

The line score in the first match against the Huskies was 16-25, 25-21, 17-25 and 11-25. Against the Gophers, the Wildcats fell by sets of 12-25, 12-25 and 13-25. 

Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) and Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) paced New Hampshire (5-8, 0-0 America East) offensively in the first match, posting nine kills each. Taylor Dunklau (Mukwonago, Wis.) dished out 30 assists while Madison Lightfoot tallied 16 digs in a losing effort.

Against Minnesota (10-1, 0-0 Big Ten), Delaney Dameron (Alpharetta, Ga.) led the Wildcats offensively, striking seven kills. Dunklau again paced the passing, posting 23 assists. Lightfoot reached double-digits in digs with 10 while Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y.) and Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) each tallied seven digs. 

Muses tallied a pair of kills as New Hampshire and Connecticut (6-5, 0-0 AAC) opened the set at two all. After exchanging points, the Huskies registered five straight points, forcing a 'Cats timeout. Connecticut widened their lead to 10, as UNH could not slow down the Huskies' offense. Despite the Wildcats narrowing the Huskies' lead to six, UConn captured four of the last five points to take set one, 25-16.

New Hampshire opened the second set with a 7-4 advantage, powered by a pair of kills from Thatcher. Forrest, Muses and Thatcher expanded the Wildcats lead to six, leading 16-10 midway through the second stanza.  UConn erased the deficit, taking six of the next seven points, tying the score at 17. Each side exchanged four points each, nearing the end of the second set. Co-captains Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.) and Thatcher fueled the Wildcats to recapture the lead, posting back-to-back block assists en route to capture the second set, 25-21 and evened that match at one all.

In the third set, UConn opened a 10-6 lead as the Wildcats used their first timeout of the stanza. The Huskies built upon their lead, taking seven of the next 10 points. Despite offensive contributions from Abby Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio), Muses and Thatcher, the Huskies won set three, 25-17.

Connecticut kept the pressure on, bolting out to an 8-4 lead in the fourth set. The Wildcats cut UConn's lead to just two, capitalizing on offensive miscues by the Huskies. However, Connecticut battled back, earning nine of the next 11 points, giving UNH an 11-point deficit at 18-9.  The Huskies eventually took the deciding set, 25-11. 

The Wildcats in the second match opened with a kill from Thatcher followed by a block assist credited to Thatcher and Muses. Minnesota responded with tallying nine of the next 10 points. Back-to-back kills from Brinkman and Tolliver narrowed the Gophers' lead to five. However, Minnesota stretched their lead to 10 at 18-10. The Gophers would eventually take the first set, 25-12.

New Hampshire kept pace with the Gophers early in the second stanza as the score was in favor of the 'Cats 4-3. Minnesota turned the momentum of the match, stringing together seven points in a row. The Wildcats kept it close; taking four of five points, and trailed by four at 13-9. Minnesota's offense came back, tallying six consecutive points and prevailing in the second set, 25-12.

Opening the third set, New Hampshire and Minnesota exchanged the lead six times. The Gophers were able to carve out a 13-8 lead, registering five straight points. Despite four kills from Dameron in the set, the Gophers took the deciding set, 25-13. 

New Hampshire will look to rebound in tomorrow's action at the Dartmouth Duel. The Wildcats will take on Rhode Island Saturday, Sept. 21 at 9:30 a.m. The Big Green and 'Cats will clash in the afternoon, beginning at 2:30 p.m.

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