Team Effort Gives Buffs Edge Over St. Mary's
BOULDER —It was a complete effort as the University of Colorado (1-1) volleyball team pulled together to take down the St. Mary's Gaels (1-1) 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 on Saturday night at the Coors Events Center.
The win came after the Buffs fell to the Gaels on Friday night (25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19) in the season opener.
"I'm proud of this group for being able to regroup from last night and take the positives," coach Liz Kritza said. "We had a film session today and we saw a lot of imbalance in our offense. We saw that we weren't getting the balls to our middles and our opposite enough, we weren't using our back row attack enough and we corrected those things to have the hitting percentage that we had tonight. When we score at this pace, we will be a pretty tough team to contend with for any team in the country."
The Buffs had four players with nine or more kills and two others had five or more kills. Sophomore Alexis Austin led the team with 13 kills and junior Taylor Simpson added 10 kills. Seniors Kerra Schroeder and Nikki Lindow each hammered nine kills and junior Kelsey English had six kills. Schroeder hit .471 with just one error on 17 swings.
"I can't describe how happy I am to be able to play," Schroeder said about her performance. "Nine months ago, I was begging coach to let me do anything I could to help this team out and it is just such an honor that I am able to do everything I can. I can't even explain it. It's amazing."
Sophomore Nicole Edelman had 42 assists in the match and directed the Buffs to a .259 overall attack percentage with 55 kills and 18 errors on 143 attacks. She also added to the team's productivity with five kills of her own while hitting .625 with no errors on nine attacks.
Colorado also owned the net with 13.0 team blocks. Lindow had a match-high nine blocks, including two solos and seven assists.
Defensively, the Buffs looked much improved over Friday night's performance against SMC, totaling 58 digs. Simpson had a match-high 15 digs and Schroeder added 13 of her own. Cierra Simpson also had a nice night with 12 digs.
"We were a different team, to be quite honest," Kritza said. "This is the team that I've seen training for those nine sessions straight. This is the team and the players I've seen in our gym, and I am just pleased that we were able to bounce back. This is a very difficult team to play, much less two nights in a row."
The Gaels were led by Jordan Shaw's 18 kills and Kristina Graven also added 14 in the effort. They hit .188 as a team and recorded 65 digs in the match.
SMC took a 12-7 lead in the first set before the Buffs recorded a 5-0 run to tie the frame at 12-12. The two teams kept it close and it was tied again at 15-15. At that point, the Gaels put together a 7-3 run to go up 22-18. The Buffs kept fighting but weren't able to close the gap as SMC took the set 25-21. The Buffs did outhit the Gaels .243-.222. Both teams recorded 13 kills but the Buffs had just four errors on 37 attacks while the Gaels had five errors on 36 swings.
CU got out to a great start in the second set with a 6-3 lead and increased it to 17-11, which forced SMC to call its first timeout of the set. After the break, the Gaels put together a 7-1 run to tie the game at 18-18. SMC went ahead on the following point, but the Buffs tied it back up on the following point (19-19). After another tie at 20-20, SMC took a two-point lead (22-20), but the Buffs weren't going to give up that easy and took the following three points to recapture the lead (23-22). The Gaels tied the game up again, but that would be the last time as the Buffs got two kills from Taylor Simpson to close the game out at 25-23. The Buffs hit .333 and held the Gaels to .237.
The Buffs kept the momentum going in the third set, thanks in part to an 8-0 run off Nicole Edelman's serve, which put the Buffs up 11-5. SMC called a timeout at that point, and was able to side out on the following point. CU kept adding to its score, taking a 4-1 run to bring the score to 15-7. At that point, the Gaels started to pick up some steam and put together their own 8-3 run, bringing the score to 18-15. The Buffs took a timeout and brought the momentum back with a 3-1 run to go up 21-16, but just as quickly, SMC got within a point after scoring four straight (21-20). CU didn't let down and rallied back to win the set with a 4-1 run, including a set-winning kill from Austin (25-21). The Buffs hit even better in the third set at .367 and held the Gaels to a match-low .216.
The fourth set saw CU taking a 10-7 advantage, including a 6-0 run. The Gaels evened the score at 10-10, but again the Buffs pulled ahead, this time taking a 15-12 lead. Again SMC came back to tie the score at 15-15. The Buffs went up 20-16 after that, but the Gaels recorded a 5-0 run to go up 21-20. CU came back and was able to seal the win with a 5-1 run to win 25-22. Neither team hit well in the set, although once again the Buffs outhit SMC .108-.083.
The Buffs will hit the road next weekend for the Castlewood Suites Challenge in Syracuse, N.Y., Sept. 6-7. They will face Stony Brook, Oakland, Rutgers and host Syracuse.