Buffs Finish 1-1 On First Day of CU Invite
DENVER/BOULDER— After the first day of the Colorado Invitational, the University of Colorado volleyball team is 1-1 after sweeping the University of Denver (3-5) in Denver before falling in three to No. 24 San Diego (2-3).
The Buffs are now 4-4 on the year and have finally played a home match at the Coors Events Center after seven road contests. This is the second straight year the Buffs have lost their home opener to a ranked team.
“Every match for us is incredibly important,” head coach Liz Kritza said. “To get swept by the No. 24 team in the nation is not something we should hang our heads about. The score is not indicative of the level of the play that this group is capable of. We have to work for continuity in our play because we can’t do without it when playing an opponent of this quality.”
The Buffs were fresh off a win against DU this morning and had hoped to use the momentum to pick up a win against the Toreros.
“This morning carried over a little bit for tonight,” senior setter Kaitlyn Burkett said. “We need to pick up our energy a little bit, but it actually helped. We have to keep running our system, every part of it. I think it is hard for us because it’s something new, but we have to trust the coaches and just go after it. I think that is part of it, and also not being hesitant.”
In loss to the Toreros (24-26, 21-25, 16-25), Rosie Steinhaus led the Buffs with nine kills and also picked up eight digs. For the first time this season, Becah Fogle didn’t lead the team but was second with seven. Kerra Schroeder was third with six. Ellen Henry recorded a team-high 10 digs in the effort.
Colorado played USD very closely in the first set until the Toreros took a 14-11 lead. CU tied the set at 16 after a pair of kills from Fogle and took the lead off a USD net violation and yet another kill from Fogle. The two teams battled and the Buffs took a three-point lead at 21-18 before USD evened it back up at 22. USD took a 24-23 lead and the Buffs were able to hold them off for a point, but the Toreros finished off the set 26-24.
The Buffs got out to a 9-4 lead in the second set with help from the Toreros as they recorded five errors in that span and were hitting -.077. USD put together a 5-1 run to get back within one point. The Toreros took the lead at 12-11. CU stayed in it and didn’t let USD get that far ahead. The Buffs called a timeout at 19-22 to try to shift the momentum but it was too late and USD closed the set 25-21. CU hit a match-high .348 in the set with 10 kills and just two errors on 23 swings.
USD got out to a 12-7 lead in the third set. CU had some trouble siding out but continued to battle despite being down 19-12. Unfortunately the deficit was too much to overcome and USD won the set and the match 25-16. CU hit -.030 with only six kills and recorded seven errors.
In the earlier match against Denver, the Buffs had a much better outing and defeated the Pioneers 26-24, 25-18, 25-20.
“What I like about this group is that they are learning,” Kritza said. “This morning we were learning when we came away with a win, and tonight we were learning and we were on the losing side of it. You’re not always going to end up on the right side of the win-los s column but this team is really starting to learn how to play high quality volleyball. That’s going to prove positive for us as we are going into big 12 play. It’s the toughest conference in the nation and we have to be able to play at a high level consistently.”
Fogle recorded 11 kills while Schroeder added 10. Rosie Steinhaus hammered nine in the victory. The Buffs hit .167 in the match but held Denver to a .028 attack percentage. Although the Buffs started out with 11 attack errors in the first set, they cut that down to just two in the second set and five in the third and had 12 kills in each frame.
Nikki Kinzer led the Buffaloes’ block by posting six block assists. As a team, CU recorded 16 block assists for 8.0 total blocks. DU put up 12 assists (6.0 total blocks).
Ellen Henry once again started in the libero position for the Buffs and picked up a team-best nine digs. Steinhaus tallied eight. CU recorded 34 digs overall compared to DU’s 42.
The first set was a close and neither team was able to get a huge lead going. After the score was tied at 17, the Pioneers got to the crucial point of 20 in the set first, leading the Buffs by two. CU got back within one point at 21-22 to force a DU timeout. The Buffs tied it up at 22 and the teams exchanged points. The Buffs fought off a DU set point (23-24) with a kill from Schroeder. Fogle followed that up with her seventh kill of the set and the Buffs and took the set off a block from Kinzer and Kaitlyn Burkett.
After allowing Denver to take a 5-2 lead in the second set, the Buffs charged back with 5-1 run to take a 7-6 lead. The Buffs held the lead until DU tied the score at 14. At that point, CU put together six straight and were well in charge of the set; finishing 25-18. CU was clicking on all cylinders that frame and hit .278.
Colorado got out to a 15-13 lead in the third set and increased it to a 21-17 advantage. At this point there was no stopping the Buffaloes’ attack and they easily finished the set and the match at 25-20. With the win the Buffs improved to 4-3 while the Pioneers fell to 3-5.
The Buffs will play Cal Poly on Saturday night at 7 p.m. Cal Poly and USD will play at the CECC at 11 a.m. as well.
“With every loss is a great learning experience and we can take a lot of what we learned tonight and apply it to our opponent tomorrow night,” Kritza said. “Cal Poly is another great west coast volleyball team and I know that the team is hungry and will be ready to play.”
Head Coach Liz Kritza
Every match for us is incredibly important. To get swept by the number 24 team in the nation is nothing to hang your head about. The score is indicative of the level of the play that this group is capable of. We have to watch for continuity in our play and we can’t do that with an opponent of this quality.
We can’t give up three or four points at certain times during a set because it is really hard to recover from it. There were some really quality plays. As a team, you can’t see that in the box score but there are things that this young group is working on that are proving positive.
To be able to keep pace and really threaten in those first two sets is a good thing. What I would like is for this group to understand that we should and could take those sets. We are going to work to make sure we are progressing and looking for a higher quality game tomorrow.
What I like about this group is that they are learning. This morning we were learning when we came away with a win, and tonight we were learning and we were on the losing side of it. You’re not always going to end up on the right side of the win-los s column but this team is really starting to learn how to play high quality volleyball. That’s going to prove positive for us as we are going into big 12 play. It’s the toughest conference in the nation and we have to be able to play at a high level consistently.
To play San Diego the second match on the same day in a tournament is a challenge but I like the way they responded. I would like them to be really aggressive and stay within our system. They need more practice, and they need more time. We are being patient and so are they. I have no doubt they are ready to go against a really tough Cal Poly team. We will see how the Cal Poly-DU match shakes out tonight, but they are a high caliber west coast team as well. I think that after tonight’s match, our team is going to be even hungrier to play. I guarantee they are going to be able to sustain the high level of play for the entire match.