Buffs Give No. 7 Cal A Tough Road Test
BOULDER - The University of Colorado volleyball team played another aggressive and exciting match on Saturday afternoon against No. 7 California, but couldn't complete the upset as the Buffs fell 25-23, 20-25, 25-15, 25-20 in front of a season-high 2,060 fans at the Coors Events Center.
"The crowd was great tonight," coach Liz Kritza said. "I give a huge thanks to State Farm for sponsoring this match and getting all of those tickets out there. It makes a huge difference, especially for us. You think about a team like mine that's fairly inexperienced, fairly young, who's taking their licks through the first run of the Pac-12 season; things can get wearing on you. You start getting frustrated, but you're immediately lifted and rejuvenated when you have the energy in the gym and in the crowd, so I can't be more thankful or more pleased with everyone who showed up tonight, and I hope that they keep coming back."
The Buffs were led by Kerra Schroeder's 16 kills and Kelsey English added 10 kills in the effort. Nikki Lindow had a good performance with nine kills and she hit .300. The Buffs hit .157 as a team with 46 kills and 24 errors on 140 attacks. Cal hit .261, but had 23 errors in the match. The Bears had 59 kills on 138 swings.
"Kerra Schroeder is doing an excellent job for us," Kritza said. "She's holding her own with the team in a conference with tough players. Nikki Lindow had a good match today. I'm proud of Kelsey English. She's a true freshman out there. A lot of times in this league, freshmen don't get to play or start a lot or get to play as much as she has, so I think individually some players are really starting to step it up, and the level of playing in this conference is starting to show."
CU was hot on the service strip with eight aces in the match. English and Elysse Richardson each recorded three in the effort. Schroeder and Hannah Walker each tallied one.
"We have to go as hard as we can with our serving," Kritza said. "We understand what our strengths and weaknesses are, and with the offensive firepower that we're facing, we have to be ready for them to make sure that they're as far out of system as possible and give our defenders a good shot at making sure they can make the play."
Defensively the Buffs had 52 digs compared to Cal's 58. Richardson led CU with 12 digs and Megan Beckwith recorded nine. Alyssa Valentine picked up eight digs and Schroeder added another seven for CU. Colorado also was effective in its block, out-blocking the Bears 8.0-6.0. Anicia Santos and Lindow each recorded four. Santos had four block assists and Lindow recorded a block solo and three block assists.
Cal's Tarah Murrey recorded a match-best 20 kills and Correy Johnson added 15 kills while hitting .625. Robin Rostratter picked up a match-high 18 digs for Cal.
"Johnson's hitting efficiency was fantastic," Kritza said. "We didn't have an answer for her, and we tried to match up our line-up a little bit so we could get a stronger block on her, but it's a combination of the match-up we had on the block and also that we weren't aggressive with our serving. When we're not aggressive with our serving, then the other team can run their offense at will, and it makes it much more difficult for our block."
The Buffs took a 7-2 lead in the first set. The Bears came back to tie to score at 10-10. Colorado went back up by three points at 16-13, but Cal came back and took 20-19 lead and increased it to 24-21. The Buffs fought off the first two set points with a Cal attack error and then a block from Santos and Schroeder, but the Bears finished the set on the following point (25-23).
Colorado also took the lead to start the second set, going up 11-7. The Buffs increased their lead to seven points, their largest of the set, at 16-9, but Cal reduced it to four points after putting together a 4-1 run (17-13). After a CU timeout, the Buffs got the ball back with a kill from Valentine. CU got the lead back to five points at 21-16, forcing the Bears to use a timeout. Colorado was able to hang on and finished the set 25-20.
Cal took control of the third set with a 12-5 lead and extended it to 16-7. The Buffs put together a 7-3 run to cut Cal's lead to five points at 19-14, but it wasn't enough as the Bears won the set 25-15.
CU had a 10-7 lead in the fourth set, but Cal recorded four straight points to take an 11-10 lead in the set. The Bears added to their lead, going up 18-13. The Buffs tried their hardest to get back in the set, as well as the match, but ultimately fell 25-20.
CU fell to 5-20 overall, 0-17 in the Pac-12, while Cal improved to 23-4 overall, 13-4 in the league.
The Buffs are on the road next weekend for a pair of matches in Arizona. They will face Arizona State on Friday, Nov. 11 in Tempe at 7 p.m. and Arizona on Saturday, Nov. 12 in Tucson, also at 7 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.