Buffs Battle Hard Against No. 6 UCLA
LOS ANGELES -The University of Colorado volleyball team won its first set as a member of the Pac-12 Conference on Friday night against No. 6 UCLA, but eventually fell 25-17, 25-15, 19-25, 25-23 at John Wooden Center on the campus of UCLA.
The Buffs came out a little slow in the first two sets, but put up a strong fight in the final two sets of the match and came very close to pushing the match to a fifth set.
"Tonight we put a team on the floor that showed grit and fought a tremendous fight," coach Liz Kritza said. "We needed to have a match like this to build some confidence and propel us forward to continue to work harder until we are getting the results we want.
The last time CU took a set off a ranked opponent was on Oct. 29, 2008 when the Buffs defeated No. 2 Nebraska 3-1 (25-19, 27-25, 18-25, 25-16) at the Coors Events Center. This was also the first time the Buffs have taken a set off a ranked opponent on the road since Oct. 29, 2005 against No. 8 Missouri. CU won that match 3-2.
Kerra Schroeder recorded a match-high 16 kills on 61 attacks. Kelsey English and Nikki Lindow each recorded eight kills for the Buffs. English also had a team-best .263 hitting percentage with just three errors on 19 attacks.
Elysse Richardson led CU with a season-best and match-best 21 digs. Schroeder added nine digs and English had seven digs. As a team the Buffs recorded 58 digs. Lindow led Colorado at the net with five blocks. She had two block solos and three block assists.
"Elysse played with great heart for her team and came up with a strong defensive performance tonight," Kritza said.
Rachael Kidder led UCLA with 13 kills and Lainey Gera had 16 digs. Kidder and Kelly Reeves each added 12 digs for the Bruins.
UCLA got out to a 14-7 lead in the first set, but the Buffs got within three points at 15-12 with the help of a 5-1 run. The Bruins took the next five points to bring the score to 20-12. The Buffs didn't give up and took four of the next six points (22-16). CU was unable to comeback to take the set and fell 25-17 as UCLA finished the set with a 3-1 run.
Colorado took a 5-4 lead to start the second set, but the Bruins rallied back to take a 16-6 advantage. UCLA maintained control of the set and despite the great effort by the Buffs, including a 6-2 run to bring the score to 18-12, CU fell 25-15.
The Buffs started the third set with a 12-6 lead. UCLA came back to get within three points at 15-12, but CU went back up 17-12. The Buffs remained in control of the set and went on to take it 25-19. They held the Bruins to a .077 hitting percentage in the frame and recorded a .188 attack percentage of their own with 11 kills and five errors on 32 swings.
CU took control of the fourth set with a 12-9 lead but the Bruins came back to take the lead with five straight points (14-12). The Buffs retook the lead at 15-14 and at that point the set would stay close. There would be three times before CU would take a three-point lead at 22-19. UCLA rallied back to tie the score at 22-22 and would take the lead on the following point. The Buffs took the next point to tie it yet again at 23, but unfortunately UCLA would finish the set, and the match, with the next two points (25-23).
"With some impromptu shuffling of the lineup, we regrouped after the second set and started playing much more aggressively," Kritza said. "Surging at the start of the third set and never relinquishing the lead was a good sign of progress. The fourth set was a battle as well and we need to continue fighting collectively like this and we will get the results that we want."
With the loss Colorado fell to 5-15 overall, 0-12 in the Pac-12, while the Bruins improved to 17-3, 10-2 in the league. The Buffs face No. 3 USC on Saturday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. (MST) in L.A.
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.