Buffs Put Up Good Fight But Fall to No. 5 USC
BOULDER - Kerra Schroeder recorded 13 kills as the University of Colorado volleyball team put up a tough fight before eventually falling to No. 5 USC (25-21, 25-21, 25-18) on Friday night at the Coors Events Center.
This was the fourth contest in five matches for the Buffs against a ranked opponent and the third in that stretch against a top-five team. CU fell to 5-9 overall, 0-6 in the Pac-12, while USC improved to 10-3, 5-1 in the Pac-12.
"This is a team [USC] that's going to play in the national championship," coach Liz Kritza said. "Everyone in the volleyball world has been saying that the entire year. The performance we showed after the performance last week is a definite step in the right direction. I liked it. It's definitely a springboard and a step for the program we're continuing to build."
Despite the loss, the Buffs had some great performances in the match. As a team they outhit USC .275-.237 in the first set and only recorded 11 attack errors in the entire match. The Trojans, on the other hand, had 16 attack errors for the match.
"We had to be aggressive and be the ones who were attacking," Kritza said. "You can't sit back against a team like this. They have fight; they had more guts, more fire power in their arsenal than we did, so we had to go as fast as we could. Our middles have to run at a real zero-tempo, we had to push the ball faster to the pins, and we're going to have to do that anytime we're playing teams that have as much offensive power as USC does. We were able to do it for almost entire sets, so almost isn't enough for us, but it's a good sign-it's a good step to build on and players are getting positive feedback."
Michelle Miller had 27 assists in the match and also added nine digs. Several hitters got points for the Buffs under Miller's direction. Emily Alexis had six kills, while Kelsey English and Nikki Lindow each recorded four kills. Defensively Megan Beckwith, Alexis and Miller each recorded nine digs. Jessica Aschenbrenner had seven digs and Schroeder added another five for Colorado.
The Buffs got out to a great start in the first set, taking a 5-1 lead. CU continued to hold the lead until USC tied the score at 9-9. CU pulled ahead again, this time taking a 14-12 lead. The Trojans put together a 4-0 run to take the lead back from the Buffs and then increased it to 20-15. CU continued to fight and took the following two points, but USC answered back with three points of its own to lead 23-17. The two teams exchanged points, giving USC set point at 24-18. The Buffs kept at it and took the next three points before the Trojans finished the frame at 25-21.
Once again CU played a great set. The Buffs took a 3-2 lead early before the Trojans went up 9-6. Colorado came back to tie the score at 12-12. USC took the next three points, but CU kept hanging around and got within a point at 15-14. The Trojans put some distance on the Buffs as they took five of the next seven points to take a 20-16 advantage and extended it to 22-17. Colorado got the next point, but USC took the next two points to get set point at 24-18. CU didn't let up and took the following three points before the Trojans won the set 25-21.
Colorado had another good performance in the third set despite allowing the Trojans to take a 6-1 lead. The Buffs went on a 4-2 run to get within three points at 8-5. USC went back up 15-9, but the Buffs answered back with three straight points (15-12). The Trojans once again pulled ahead of CU, this time taking a 20-14 lead. The deficit proved to be too much for the Buffs to come back from, but they did fight until the end. USC took the set 25-18 and won the match.
"I think we came out really sharp and ready to play," Schroeder said. "I definitely think that we surprised them by coming out like that and having each game really close."
The Buffs host No. 2 UCLA on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. And don't forget to check out the latest news and highlights with coach Kritza on This Week in Colorado Volleyball, exclusively on BuffsTV at CUBuffs.com/volleyball. New shows air every Tuesday.