Simpson Hammers 29 Kills Against Butler
BOULDER— Senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson hammered a career-high 29 kills to help the University of Colorado volleyball team to a 3-1 (25-22, 25-23, 20-25, 25-22) victory against Butler on Saturday night at the Coors Events Center on the second day of the Omni Invitational.
Earlier in the day the Buffs also defeated Robert Morris 3-0 (25-11, 25-9, 25-15). The Buffs are now 8-1 this season, while Butler dropped to 6-3. RMU is now 1-9.
The Buffs have won eight straight contests, tying the fifth best win streak in CU history. CU also had an eight-match win streak last season. Both this season and last season the Buffs dropped the season opener before rattling off eight straight wins. The longest win streak for the Buffs is 10, which they have done three times. The last time was September 16-October 16, 1998.
The 29 kills tonight for Simpson tied for 12th best all-time in CU history and it’s the first time since 2007 that a Buff has 29 or more kills in a single match. For her performance, she was named the Omni Invitational MVP. Simpson also hit .355 on the night with seven errors on 62 swings.
“Taylor has the ability to single handedly take over portions of sets and she did that in the second set,” head coach Liz Kritza said. “We dug ourselves into a hole and like a true leader and one of the elite players in the country she was able to say, “Okay, I got it. Give it to me and I’ll take the burden and the load.” She came through and that is really what an elite player does.”
Neira Ortiz Ruiz was also named to the all-tournament team as she recorded 10 kills and hit .333. Joslyn Hayes was second on the team with 11 kills and she hit .417. Gabby Simpson handed out 48 assists to guide the Buffs to a .288 hitting percentage. As a team, CU had 63 kills and 21 errors on 146 attacks.
Defensively the Buffs had 57 digs and were led by Cierra Simpson, another all-tournament selection, who picked up 19 digs. Gabby Simpson was second on the team with 10 digs and Taylor Simpson added nine digs. Anna Pfefferle was the top blocker for the Buffs with five block assists.
Butler had 51 kills in the match with 19 errors on 137 swings to hit .234. Belle Obert had 16 kills for the Bulldogs and Kayla Bivins and Mary Striedl had 10 kills each. Jadyn Yarling picked up a team-high 15 digs and Obert and Bivins each had five blocks.
The first set was very back and forth with 17 ties and five lead changes. The last tie came at 20-20, with a Taylor Simpson kill. CU took the lead on the following point on another kill from Taylor Simpson. BU committed two consectutive attack errors to give the Buffs a 23-20 lead. Taylor Simpson brought CU to set point (24-20) but the Bulldogs fought off two straight set points before CU finished the set on another Taylor Simpson kill.
The Buffs played from behind for the majority of the second set. The Bulldogs led CU 20-16, but the Buffs weren’t going to let them go and chipped away at the lead. The Buffs tied the set up at 23-23 and went ahead on the next point on a Taylor Simpson kill. CU closed the set on the following point off a BU attack error (25-23).
The third set was another close one, but Butler took control of the set near the beginning. The Buffs battled on got within a point of the Bulldogs at 21-20, but Butler answered with a 4-0 run to finished the set 25-20. CU hit just .176 in the set with 12 kills and six errors on 34 attacks, while the Bulldogs hit .323 with 14 kills and four errors on 31 attacks.
CU took a 21-17 lead in the fourth set, forcing BU to use a timeout. The Bulldogs took the following point with a kill, but served the next ball out of bounds to give the Buffs a point (22-18). The teams battled and BU got back within two points at 23-21, forcing the Buffs to use a timeout. BU took the next point to get within one, but the Buffs answered with a kill from Hayes and finished the set with an attack error (25-22).
The Buffs dominated the match against RMU, taking the Colonials in three sets. CU hit a scorching .549, setting a school record. The former record in a three-set match had been .534, which came against UNC Wilmington on August 31, 2007.
Taylor Simpson led CU with 16 hills and didn’t hit a single error on 24 attacks for a career-best .667 hitting efficiency. Stephanie Shadley and Katelyn Cuff each recorded seven kills in the win. Shadley hit .385 (two kills and 13 swings) and Cuff hit .700 with no errors on 10 attacks. Gabby Simpson again set for the Buffs and handed out 32 assists while adding three kills of her own.
CU served up 11 aces in the match, compared to RMU’s one. Taylor Simpson led the team with three, while Shadley, Gabby Simpson and Cierra Simpson had two each. Niera Ortiz Ruiz and Anna Pfefferle each recorded one ace.
Defensively, the Buffs had 23 digs and 6.0 blocks. Gwen Herring, Gabby Simpson and Taylor Simpson led the team with five digs each. At the net, Cuff tied a career-best with six block assists.
“The Robert Morris match was another important one for us to play,” Kritza said. “It’s good when you play your entire roster and give everyone playing experience. To hold a team until 10 points and score in the teens in other sets is a good sign.”
CU got out to a quick start in the match, taking a 10-3 lead in the first set before RMU called a timeout. The break didn’t slow down the Buffs and they went up 15-5. CU didn’t let up and kept attacking and finished the set 25-11. The Buffs hit an outstanding .643 with only one error and 19 kills on 28 attacks. They held the Colonials to just .050 with only five kills and four errors on 20 swings.
The Buffs took control of the second set from the beginning, but RMU kept it close for the first part of the set and were within three points at 10-7. After that point, the Buffs recorded a 6-2 run to increase the lead to 16-9, at which point the Colonials used a timeout. CU continued to roll out of the timeout, taking the following nine points to win the frame 25-9. Again the Buffs recorded just one error as they hit .571 with 13 kills on 21 attacks. RMU was held to -.091 with six kills and eight errors on 22 attacks.
CU didn’t let the Colonials stick around in the third set for very long. The Buffs had an 8-6 lead when they put together a 5-0 run to go up 13-6, causing RMU to take a timeout. The Colonials took the next four points (13-10), which forced Kritza to take the Buffs’ first timeout of the match. CU took eight of the next 10 points to take a commanding 21-12 advantage. RMU answered with two straight points (21-14), but it wasn’t enough to get back in the game. CU went on to take the set and win the match 25-15. The Buffs hit a .409 efficiency in the third set with four errors on 13 kills and 22 attacks. They did hold the Colonials to a -.150 with three kills and six errors on 20 attacks.
The Buffs will head to Omaha, Neb. next weekend, Sept. 19-20, for the Creighton Classic. They will face South Dakota on Friday at 3:30 p.m. MT. On Saturday, CU will take on No. 12 Illinois at 9:30 a.m. and Creighton at 6:30 p.m. MT.
“The nonconference scheduling is two-fold,” Kritza said. “One is to prepare our resume, RPI-wise for the selection committee and the other is to prepare our team for the level of play.”