Buffs Win Omni Classic Crown
BOULDER— The University of Colorado volleyball team won the Omni Hotels Colorado Volleyball Classic on Saturday with wins over Georgia Southern (3-0) and Pittsburgh (3-1) at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffs handed Pitt (5-1) its first loss of the season with the 25-18, 25-20, 20-25, 25-20 victory. Prior to the match, the Panthers had not lost a set in five matches. With the win, CU is now 5-1 on the season, including the three wins this tournament.
"We are pleased that we won, pleased that we came away with the tournament championship but we are nowhere near satisfied for our level of play," head coach Liz Kritza said. "We know we have so much more and they (Buffs) will agree that we can do more. We always take the positives and we look for those two or three little things that we want to improve and I think that will be our recipe for a championship this year."
Joslyn Hayes led CU against Pitt with 13 kills and Taylor Simpson added 12 kills. They both did well at the net. Simpson posted a team-high six blocks and Hayes put up three blocks. Both were also named to the all-tournament team.
"It's awesome for us (to win the tournament)," Simpson said. "We have another tournament next weekend, so we have an opportunity to go 6-0. That's huge for us, especially going into conference play that will really boost us up."
Nicole Edelman was named the tournament MVP and guided the Buffs to a .147 hitting percentage with 41 assists. CU had 47 kills and 27 errors on 136 swings. Edelman added two kills and four blocks.
The Buffs held Pitt to a .106 hitting percentage. The Panthers recorded 40 kills and 26 errors on 132 swings. The Panthers recorded 53 digs to CU's 43, but the Buffs had the edge in blocks at 15.5-12.0. Anna Pfefferle also had six blocks for the Buffs and Kelsey English posted four blocks. Cierra Simpson led the team with 14 digs and Gabby Simpson was second on the team with nine digs.
English started the match off with a pair of kills before the Panthers came back to even the score at 6-6. Pitt took its first lead of the match on the following a kill from Jessica Wynn. The Buffs came back to even the score at 14-14 and retook the lead on an ace from Cierra Simpson. CU would never trail again in the set and went on to finish it 25-18.
English again started the second set with a kill and the Buffs went up 6-2. CU increased their advantage to 13-5 and maintained a several point lead on the Panthers throughout the set. Pitt got back with three points at 17-14, but it was the closest the Panthers would get. CU took the following three points to regain a six-point advantage (20-14). The Buffs went on to finish the game 25-20.
The third set was very close and Pitt had the lead for the majority of the frame. The Panthers lead 18-12 when the Buffs started to rally. CU put together a 7-2 run to get within a point at 20-19. Pitt took the next two points (22-19) and despite CU's effort, Pitt finished the set 25-20.
"Knowing that we played Northwestern (to open the season) and won the first two games, and then lost the third one, we knew that we didn't want that to happen again," Simpson explained. "Everyone was on the same page, and we all just took a big step forward and knew that wasn't going to happen this match."
The fourth set was another tight one. CU went up 16-10, but the Panthers answered with a 3-0 run after a timeout (16-13). Pitt kept the set close, but the Buffs stayed a safe distance ahead. CU wrapped up the set 25-20.
Earlier in the day, CU swept Georgia Southern (25-20, 25-19, 25-16). Just like she has been doing all season, Taylor Simpson led CU with 12 kills and hit .375 against the Eagles. She recorded five kills in the first set, three in the second set and four in the third. Joslyn Hayes recorded seven kills in the win for the Buffs and Neira Ortiz Ruiz hammered six kills and hit .417.
As a team, CU recorded a .299 hitting percentage with 35 kills and 12 errors on 77 attacks. Nicole Edelman recorded nine assists in the first set and Gabby Simpson handed out 19 assists during the match.
Anna Pfefferle posted five block assists to lead CU, while Simpson added another four block assists. The Buffs out-blocked the Eagles 8.0-3.0. Gabby and Cierra Simpson had a team-best of five digs each, and sister Taylor added four digs.
"The match was a little different for Georgia Southern and I am pleased we were able to separate ourselves, particularly in the third set," Kritza said. "I think when I am changing line ups and when players are out on the floor sometimes it's difficult to get into a rhythm, but I think we battled back and forth with them for the first two sets, scores were a little bit closer, but in the third set we really asserted ourselves being the aggressors, serving tough making sure that we were balancing our aggressive serving, our aggressive attacking with managing our errors and the difference shows in the score; it's very reflective.
"If we minimize our unforced errors and we're still comfortable being aggressive with our serving, with our attacking then really good things happen for us and will continue that way. And quite honestly it's what we need moving into our conference season; we have to be that aggressive, we have to take that risk and we have to be comfortable with living in that area where we have the balance of enough risk with minimizing our errors. SO I think that was the most important thing coming out of the Georgia Southern game, it was a good step for us to take together as a group."
The first set had four ties and three lead changes, the most out of any set in the match. The final tie came early at 9-9 and the Buffs took the lead in the game on the following point with a kill from Hayes to take a 10-9 lead. CU went on to use a 7-3 run to fully take control of the set with a 17-12 advantage. The Eagles got back within three points at 19-16, but the Buffs pulled away again with two straight points (21-16). CU went on to finish the frame 25-20.
The Buffs took the lead of the second set near the beginning as the only tie of the set came at 3-3. CU pulled ahead on the following point after a GSU attack error (4-3) and never looked back. The Buffs extended their lead to 14-9 and then to 20-13. It was smooth sailing from that point on as CU closed the set out 25-19. The Buffs hit .231 in the frame with 12 kills and six errors on 25 attacks and held the Eagles to a -.087 hitting percentage with seven kills and nine errors on 23 swings.
CU hit a sizzling .440 in the final set and held GSU to a .038 attack percentage. The game was tied 4-4 when CU recorded a 10-1 run to take a demanding advantage at 14-5. The Eagles were able to cut CU's lead to seven points at 22-15, but it was too late and the Buffs rolled to the win by a score of 25-16.
The Buffs will host the Omni Invitational Sept. 12-13 at the Coors Events Center. They will play Idaho State on Friday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. The match against Robert Morris is slated for 12 p.m. on Sept. 13 and CU will close the invitational at 6 p.m. against Butler.