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Simpson Hammers 22 Kills In Tough Loss At Utah

Sep 24, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah —The University of Colorado volleyball team put up a great fight but dropped a heartbreaker to the University of Utah 3-2 (25-19, 21-25, 25-18, 24-26, 15-12) on Tuesday night at the Huntsman Center.

“Both teams were battling tonight and I saw some real character and grit from our kids in the fourth set to come back from a considerable margin to take that set away,” coach Liz Kritza said. “Now we must use that fight and combine it with discipline to better execute in tough situations and when we force the fifth set.”

Junior Taylor Simpson had a great night with 22 kills in the match while adding 15 digs and two blocks. Sophomore Alexis Austin was second on the team with 11 kills and senior Nikki Lindow added nine kills. Junior Kelsey English hit a team-high .400 with seven kills and one error on 15 attacks. Sophomore Nicole Edelman handed out 48 assists on 58 of CU’s kills and the Buffs hit .155 in the effort.

Defensively the Buffs out-dug the Utes 76-69.  Freshman Cierra Simpson had a match-best 16 digs and senior Kerra Schroeder added 14 digs. Edelman also recorded double-digit digs with 12. At the net, Lindow put up six blocks (two solo and four assists) while Schroeder added four blocks (one solo and three assists).

“Kerra proved to be our top defender tonight in a combination of both her net play and floor defense; we will need continued effort like this from her to improve our performance in our next match,” Kritza said.

Utah had three hitters with 11 kills apiece in Bailey Bateman, Shelby Dalton and Makenzie Moea’i and the Utes hit .217 in the match. Kendal Cygan led Utah with 15 digs and Bateman had a match-best seven blocks.

“We lacked a consistency tonight in our execution of strategy that is required to best teams like this,” Kritza said. “They have a good sized block and are persistent in their defense, and aggressive in their transition offense. “

The Buffs are now 8-2 overall (0-1 Pac-12), while the Utes improved to 12-1 (1-0 Pac-12).

The Buffs put together a 15-11 lead midway through the first set. After the media timeout, the Utes used a 7-1 run to go ahead 18-16. CU used its first timeout and took the first point out of the break before Utah took the following three, forcing the Buffs to call their second and final timeout of the frame. CU took two of the first three points after the timeout (22-19), but the Utes finished the set with three straight points (25-19).

CU fell behind to start the second set, but used a 4-0 run to take a 12-11 lead, which forced Utah to take its first timeout. The two teams battled and the score was tied up 14-14 when Utah used a 3-1 run to take a 17-15 advantage. This time it was CU that called a timeout and it worked well as the Buffs put together a 6-2 run to go ahead 21-19, forcing Utah to spend its final timeout. The Utes took the first point out of the break, but the Buffs finished the set with four of the next five points (25-21).

Colorado took a 9-5 lead in set three, but the Utes came back to even the score at 12-12. Utah added to its score and went up 19-15 and despite CU’s effort to get back in the set; the Utes won it 25-18.

Utah took an 8-4 lead to start the fourth set but then CU took three straight points to get within one at 8-7. After that, the Utes went up 14-8, forcing the Buffs to use a timeout. Finding some strong play behind freshman outside hitter Joslyn Hayes and senior defensive specialist and setter Elysse Richardson, CU rallied back within three points at 16-13 and this time Utah was the team that needed a timeout. The Buffs used four of the next five points to tie the score at 17-17 and the two teams fought right up to the end. The Buffs had a 24-23 lead and Utah posted a block to even the score at 24-24. CU didn’t get discouraged and finished the set with kills from Lindow and Taylor Simpson (26-24).

The Utes took a 5-1 lead to start set five and the Buffs called a timeout to try to slow down the Utah attack. CU kept its fight and got back within two points at 7-5. The teams continued to battle but the Utes were able to take an 11-7 advantage, forcing the Buffs to use their final timeout of the match. CU kept fighting until the end, but eventually fell 15-12.   

The Buffs will return home to the Coors Events Center to open the home portion of the Pac-12 schedule on Friday, Sept. 27 against No. 11 UCLA at 7 p.m. The match will be televised live regionally on the Pac-12 Network.

“We have a quick turnaround and have to get ready for another match in a few days, so we will take the tough lessons from tonight and the progress we made as a team, and get back in the gym and improve to be ready for a strong performance on our home floor on Friday,” Kritza said.