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Ortiz Ruiz Shines In Win Against Idaho State

Sep 12, 2014

BOULDER— Senior outside hitter Neira Ortiz Ruiz recorded a career-high 17 kills, helping the University of Colorado volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-20, 25-15, 23-25, 25-12) victory over Idaho State on Friday night at the Coors Events Center on the first day of the Omni Invitational.  

With the win, the Buffs improve to 6-1 this season, while ISU fell to 2-5 overall.

Ortiz Ruiz had an amazing night. Besides her 17 kills, she hit a team-best .469 with just two errors on 32 attacks, picked up a career-high eight digs and three service aces and posted three block assists.

“I was just given an opportunity, and from now on I think that I’m just going to take it, and make the best out of every situation and opportunity that I get,” Ortiz Ruiz said about her performance. “I want to always try to do my best.”

"One of our big goals for this season is to be a complete team,” head coach Liz Kritza said. “I was at practice earlier this week and I complimented Neira that she's been killing it in practice and doing what we've asked of her. To me, that is a secret for what we want to do as far as chasing that championship. You can't just rely on one or two players, you have to have a complete team and everybody has to play their role at exactly the right time and Neira had a fantastic match.” 

As a team, CU hit very well in the match at .321 with 63 kills and 18 errors on 140 attacks. They hit .462 in the first set, .314 in the second set and .412 in the fourth set. They hit just .178 in the third set. Four players hit above .300. Kelsey English had seven kills and two errors on 12 attacks to hit .417 and Gabby Simpson recorded a .312 percentage with seven kills and two errors on 16 swings. Taylor Simpson tied Ortiz Ruiz for the team-high in kills with 17 and hit .302 with four errors on 43 attacks. Gabby Simpson also handed out 42 assists in the win.

“We were looking at the hitting efficiencies on the bench as coaches and we see the fluctuations on the other side of the net and for we want to just stay stable,” Kritza said. “That’s making sure we can side out and it’s got to be fun as a setter to have so many options, I mean credit to Gabby is that she was able to spread the ball around and she was able to find players, get them going, she was smart enough to keep the ball pumping in this one’s (Neira) direction and keep getting points there but it’s nice being able to have multiple options and players that take such responsibility.”

ISU hit just .136 in the match with 35 kills and 19 errors on 118 attacks. Tressa Lyman led the team with 10 kills and hit .235.

The Buffs also did well serving in the match. Besides the three aces from Ortiz Ruiz, Stephanie Shadley served up four aces in the match. English and Gabby Simpson each added one ace.

Cierra Simpson led CU in the back row with a career-best 26 digs. The Buffs recorded 55 digs compared to the Bengals’ 45. CU also out-blocked ISU 9.0-8.0. English, Anna Pfefferle and Rachel Hargis each posted three block assists and Gabby Simpson, Taylor Simpson and Joslyn Hayes each had two block assists.

The first set was very close with nine ties and five lead changes, but they all came in the first half of the set. The Buffs took the lead at 15-14 off an ISU attack error and extended it to 21-15 with a 6-1 run. The Bengals used their second timeout of the game at that point and were able to get within three points at 23-20, but CU answered back with a kill from Ortiz Ruiz to get to set point (24-20). The Buffs finished the set on the following point with an attack error by ISU’s Tressa Lyman.  

The Bengals took a 5-3 lead to start set two, but CU overtook them and went up 9-7. The Buffs extended the lead to 14-10 before ISU called a timeout. After the break, CU continued to attack and used a 5-1 run to go up 19-11, forcing the Bengals to use their final timeout of the set. The Buffs were firing on all cylinders and used a 5-3 run to get to set point (24-14). ISU fought off the first set point with a kill from Alydia Fields-Grimm, but Hayes finished the set on the following point with a kill (25-15).

The Buffs played from behind for the beginning of the third set. They took the lead at 11-10 and increased it to 14-11 before the Bengals evened the score at 14-14. The two teams battled back and forth and had eight ties until ISU went up 23-22. CU used a timeout and on the next point, recorded a kill from Ortiz Ruiz. ISU answered back with a kill to get set point and finished the game on the following point (25-23).

“We need to win the serve pass game and in the third set we weren’t,” Kritza said. “They were siding out to quickly because we weren’t winning that serve pass battle.”

CU recorded three straight blocks to take a 10-4 advantage in the fourth set, forcing ISU to use a timeout.  The Buffs kept attacking and increased the lead to eight points at 15-7. CU didn’t let up and went up by 11 points at 20-9. ISU didn’t have an answer for the Buffs and CU was able to take the set 25-12 to finish the match.

“We had to quickly give ourselves a talking to after that third set and did not dwell on it,” Kritza said. “It was tightly contested, but we can't go down like we did in the beginning of any set. It doesn't matter who we're playing, Pac-12 opponent or not. That is a quality team full of good players and they're well coached. We respect them for being able to take that set off of us, but we can all look at each other and know that is not the level where we need to play. I love the fact that I have players that can respond and are willing to respond because it's not always an easy thing. When you have young players changing their game, particularly in a competition setting, it's sometimes really hard. So, tonight I'm really proud of them for pulling that out in the fashion that they did in the fourth set."

Day two of the Omni Invitational will start on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a match between Butler and Idaho State. CU will face Robert Morris at 12 p.m. The second set of matches starts at 4 p.m. with ISU and RMU. CU will take on Butler in the final match of the invitational at 6 p.m. Admission will be free all day on Saturday.