COLORADO OPENS NCAA VOLLEYBALL AGAINST NO. 2 HAWAI'I
THE TOURNAMENT: Colorado (14-13) will open the 2004 NCAA Tournament by playing No. 2 ranked and undefeated Hawai'i (28-0) on Thursday, Dec. 2, at 5 p.m., at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Colorado State (26-3) and Purdue (16-14) will constitute the other first round match up at Moby Arena at 7 p.m. The winners of the first round matches will play Friday, at 7 p.m., for a spot in the regional tournament in Green Bay, Wis., scheduled for Dec. 10-11.
Hawai'i is the No. 3 overall seed in the tournament trailing only No. 1 Nebraska and No. 2 Penn State. Colorado is venturing into familiar NCAA territory as the Buffs have been placed in first and second round matches at Colorado State for the third time since 2000. In both of those prior trips, Colorado advanced to the second round only to lose a pair of five-game thrillers to the host Rams.
The Buffaloes were one of seven teams from the Big 12 Conference to advance to the tournament, tying the Big Ten for the most in the nation. CU finished tied with Kansas for sixth place in the league standings at 9-11.
The Buffaloes will be making their 14th overall NCAA Tournament appearance and the 13th in the past 14 seasons which puts them in some elite company. Colorado is one of only 14 teams to qualify for at least 13 NCAA Tournaments since 1991.
ON THE SEASON: Colorado is 14-13 overall in 2004 completed the Big 12 regular season tied with Kansas for sixth place in the Big 12 at 9-11. The Buffaloes have clinched a .500 record or better for the 17th straight season.
Junior right side hitter Allie Griffin leads the Buffaloes into the NCAA Tournament averaging 4.27 kills per game which ranked fifth in the Big 12 during the regular season. She is also secoond on the squad in digs (2.38 dpg) and third blocks (0.93 bpg). Colorado has been without a major part of its offensive punch as junior outside hitter Maragda Santillana has been out since the end of October with a rotator cuff injury to her right shoulder. Santillana was averaging 4.17 kills per game which still ranks sixth in the Big 12. In her place sophomore Amber Nu'u has filled in nicely averaging nearly three kills per game over her last eight matches. Freshman Amber Sutherland has also seen her playing time increase with the loss of Santillana. Sutherland, who played in just four of the season's first 20 matches, has played in six of the last seven averaging 1.7 kills per game.
Sophomore Ashley Nu'u runs the Buffs' offense at setter averaging 12.17 assists per game. She is currently sixth on the school's all-time assists list (1,464) and, against Baylor, became the 15th setter in team history with 1,000 assists in a season. Senior setter Allison Barnes has played more of a defensive role in 2004, but is still second on the squad in assists (117) and is one of only five Buffs in team history with 1,500 assists and 600 digs.
Defensively, junior outside Nicole Carr continues to lead the Buffaloes in digs (2.58 dpg). CU's active career leader in digs with 872, Carr also ranks third on the team in kills (2.45 kpg).
CU's middle blocker combination of sophomores Lara Bossow and Austin Zimmerman are combining for 3.62 kills and 2.04 blocks per game. Junior Kelly Masumiya and freshman Therese Vinal have been solid in the libero position averaging 1.16 and 2.04 digs per game respectively.
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