Buffs Defeat No. 17 UCLA 3-1 On The Road
MALIBU, Calif. — The University of Colorado volleyball team came back to defeat No. 17 UCLA 3-1 (23-25, 26-24, 25-12, 25-17) to win their first Pac-12 road match of the season after losing a close first set on Sunday afternoon at Firestone Fieldhouse.
"What a great team effort today," coach Liz Kritza said. "And coming away with another win against a ranked opponent is another step forward for this program."
This is the second win against a ranked opponent this season for the Buffs sweeping then-No. 14 Arizona on Oct. 5 in Boulder. It is the second straight win for CU against the Bruins as the Buffs defeated UCLA 3-2 in the only last meeting of 2013 in Boulder.
CU is now 11-7 overall and improved to 3-3 in Pac-12 competition, while UCLA is currently 12-5 (3-3 Pac-12).
"For the first time all season, at different points during the match, all four of our pin hitters were hot, as well as our middles," Kritza said. "When that happens, we are a tough team to slow down due to our offensive options."
Taylor Simpson recorded a team-best 21 kills and hit a sizzling .415 with only four errors on 41 swings. She had 10 kills alone in the first set, four in the second and third sets and three in the final game. Simpson recorded her 10th double-double of the season with 11 digs in the win. She also added three blocks and a pair of aces for 24.5 points.
"Taylor showed again that she can go blow for blow against any player in the country," Kritza said. "She had another solid performance all around and led this group to victory with great poise."
The Buffs hit .360 in the match and held the Bruins to .211. CU had 59 kills and 14 errors on 125 attacks, while UCLA had 52 kills but committed 25 errors on 128 swings. Nicole Edelman handed out 27 assists, while Gabby Simpson recorded 25 for the Buffs. Simpson also added 10 kills as a hitter for the Buffs and hit .500 with just one error on 18 attacks.
"Our setters distributed the ball for a .360 efficiency," Kritza said. "Nicole Edelman needs to be commended for her performance under pressure and very team oriented approach to leading this team today. She made players around her better, a sign of a great leader."
Neira Ortiz Ruiz also had a good showing for the Buffs with 11 kills, which included five in the third set. She recorded a .318 hitting percentage with three errors on 23 swings. Katelyn Cuff tallied eight kills and gave a strong offensive effort with kills at key points for the Buffs. Alexis Austin had also had six kills for the Buffs.
The Buffs showed UCLA why they lead the conference in aces per set, serving up eight in the match. Besides the pair from Taylor Simpson, Stephanie Shadley had a match-best three aces. Anna Pfefferle also had two aces and Kelsey English had the other ace.
Both teams recorded 45 digs in the match. Cierra Simpson led the Buffs with 12 digs and Shadley picked up seven digs. Cierra Simpson also received 26 of UCLA's 73 serves and had just one reception error.
"Cierra Simpson had a standout match both in serve receive and defensively," Kritza said. "Her stability has been a strength for this team. An 85% positive reception rate is absolutely stellar."
CU also had the edge in blocks, almost doubling UCLA's output 15.0-8.0. Pfefferle posted a career-best 10 blocks assists and Ortiz Ruiz had six block assists. Cuff got in on the action with five blocks assists and Austin added three block assists. Gabby Simpson also had a pair of block assists for the Buffs.
"Blocking was solid today, led by Pfefferle and Ortiz Ruiz, and did a good job slowing down UCLA's offense, one of the strongest in the league," Kritza said.
UCLA's Karsta Lowe, who leads the NCAA with 6.11 kills per sets, tied Taylor Simpson with a match-best 21 kills. She hit .311 and added five block assists for 24.5 points. Reily Buechler was second for the Bruins with 11 kills.
The Buffs got out to a 5-3 lead to start the match, but the Bruins came back and evened the score at 6-6. The two teams battled and didn't give the other team much until CU recorded a 3-0 run to take a 15-12 lead, forcing UCLA to use a timeout. After the break, the Bruins took back-to-back points to get back within a point (15-14), but Taylor Simpson answered with a kill. The two teams kept it close and it was tied again at 23-23. UCLA finished the set with two straight points (25-23).
The second set was another close one before CU put together a lead of 15-11. UCLA used a timeout and recorded two straight points out of the break (15-13), forcing the Buffs to use their first timeout of the set. The timeout worked well for CU as the Buffs recorded a 5-1 run to take a 20-14 advantage in the game. UCLA spent its final timeout at the point, but CU took the following point off a kill from Austin (21-14). CU had set point at 24-17 a few points later, but the Bruins fought back to even the score at 24-24. The Buffs didn't get down and took the next point with a kill from Austin and won the game on a block by Pfefferle and Taylor Simpson (26-24).
The third set was all CU. The teams were tied 3-3 when the Buffs went on a stampede, recording a 7-1 run to take a 10-4 lead. The Bruins couldn't get much going and CU continued to attack, increasing the lead to 18-9. The Buffs didn't let up in the set and had set point at 24-11 after a UCLA attack error. The Bruins fought off the first set point, but the Buffs answered with a time from Taylor Simpson to finish the game 25-12, the worst set loss for UCLA this season. CU hit a scorching .520 with 15 kills and only two errors on 25 attacks. The Buffs held UCLA to a .074 hitting efficiency with eight kills and six errors on 27 swings.
CU took control of the fourth set, like the third set, from the beginning. The Buffs had a 9-3 lead when UCLA called a timeout. The Bruins took the following point, but CU answered back with a kill from Ortiz Ruiz. The Buffs kept going and increased their lead to 10 at 19-9. UCLA didn't have an answer for the Buffs and CU finished the set and the match 25-17.
The Buffs return home to the Coors Events Center next week. They will host top-ranked Stanford on Friday, Oct. 17 at 7 p.m. and California on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 12 p.m. Both matches will be televised on Pac-12 Network.
Notes: This is CU's first win on the road against a ranked opponent since 2005 when the Buffs defeated No. 8 Missouri and No. 24 Texas A&M on the road…The Buffs are now 2-7 against UCLA…CU is 2-3 through a stretch of six matches against ranked opponents; the Buffs face No. 1 Stanford on Oct. 17 to finish the stretch…This is the fifth time this year Taylor Simpson had recorded 20 or more kills in a match.