Ducks Out-Duel Buffs In Four
BOULDER — The University of Colorado volleyball team had two players record 18 kills apiece, but it was not enough as the Buffs suffered another tough loss at the Coors Events Center, this time falling to Oregon 3-1 (29-27, 25-21, 20-25, 25-13) on Sunday afternoon.
"We were not able to execute our game plan through to completion, which is the biggest difference for us," head coach Liz Kritza said. "There were some really high level plays tonight. There was some really good volleyball, and that [Oregon] is a good team. I will take nothing away from them, but when our team is firing on all cylinders, when we are serving the way we are supposed to, when we are playing defense, it is really amazing, the difference in the level."
Alexis Austin and Taylor Simpson each came away with 18 kills in the effort. Austin recorded a team-high .421 hitting efficiency with just two errors on 38 swings, while adding two block solos. Simpson hit .208 with eight errors on a match-high 49 attacks and recorded 15 digs and four block assists.
The Buffs hit .229 and combined for 55 total kills, while the Ducks hit .261 with 60 kills. CU out-dug (54-53) and out-blocked Oregon (11.0-9.0).
Kelsey English had the next highest kills total for CU with seven kills and posted four block assists. Nikki Lindow added three block assists and Nicole Edelman got into the action with one block solo and two block assists. She also handed out 42 assists for the Buffs while picking up six digs. Cierra Simpson had a team-best 17 digs.
The Ducks were led by Liz Brenner, who had 20 kills in the match while hitting .348. She also had 13 digs. Martenne Bettendorf added 17 kills for UO. Defensively Amanda Benson led UO with 18 digs and Ariana Williams had five total blocks.
"We had to make sure that we were hitting their outsides the best we could." Kritza said. "[Martenne] Bettendorf had a career night against us. Sometimes you can't control that, when players go off and have a good performance. [Liz] Brenner is going to get her kills. She is just a very strong player, but I liked that what Alexis [Austin] and Taylor [Simpson] both did is they both had 20 point performances tonight."
With the loss, CU is now 16-12 overall (8-10 Pac-12), while the Ducks improved to 17-11 (10-8 Pac-12).
"We need to keep building because coming off that tough road swing last week, I was pleased we came away with the win (on Friday night) and a three-set sweep is always a good thing, and it gave us a little wind in our sails," Kritza said. "Tonight's performance, not where we wanted in the win-loss column, but we have to take all of the positives that were out there tonight. We are playing at a higher level and certain players are elevating their game. Now we have to take that and keep building."
Colorado took an 11-9 lead in the first with the help of a 5-0 run that included a pair of kills from English. The Buffs and Ducks kept it close, and the score would be tied 18-18 before English and Taylor Simpson would combine for a pair of blocks to give CU a two-point lead at 20-18. UO took a timeout and earned the following point, but after that, the two teams traded off points until the Ducks got two straight to tie the set at 23-23, forcing the Buffs to take a break.
Out of the timeout, Austin hammered a kill, but UO sided out to even the set again at 24-24. The Ducks took the next point to get to set point (25-24), but Lindow answered with her own kill to even it back up. The Buffs had set point the following point after an UO attack error, but a service error tied the set up at 26-26. The Ducks went on to finish the set on the next two points (29-27).
UO took a 10-7 lead to start the second set, which made the Buffs take a timeout. The Ducks took the next seven points to increase their lead to 17-7, causing CU to use its final timeout of the set. After that break, the Buffs got things going again with Simpson recording a kill, and Jessica Aschenbrenner added an ace (17-9). After an attack error by CU, the Buffs put together a 7-0 run to cut UO's advantage to two points at 18-16. The two sides kept battling, although UO maintained its lead and finished the set 25-21.
The Buffs seemed to be recharged after the intermission and took an 11-9 lead in the third set. CU kept it going and increased the lead to six points at 21-16 and would be able to finish the set 25-20. The Buffs hit .390 in the set and held the Ducks to .150 attack percentage. CU had 19 kills in the frame with just three errors on 41 swings.
The Ducks jumped out to a 9-5 advantage in the fourth set and kept attacking to get their lead to 10 at 18-8. CU tried its best to get back in the set, but hit .000 in the set and was not able to slow down the Ducks who hit .312. UO took the set 25-13.
The Buffs will conclude the home portion of their Pac-12 schedule on Wednesday, Nov. 27 against Utah. The match is slated to start at 6 p.m. and will be televised live regionally on the Pac-12 Network. They will wrap up their season on Friday, Nov. 29 with a 3 p.m. MST match at No. 8 USC in Los Angeles, which will be streamed live at CUBuffs.com.
"We have two conference matches left," Kritza said. "Both are incredibly important for our overall team goals, but we have to take them one at a time. We have to put everything we have into preparing for Utah, and be ready for them when they come in here, and make sure that we are not just playing at a high level, but we are executing our game plan all the way up."