Buffs Handle Bears In Four
BOULDER — Junior Alexis Austin hammered 20 kills to help led the University of Colorado volleyball team past the California Bears 3-1 (25-23, 25-16, 20-25, 25-22) on Sunday afternoon at the Coors Events Center.
The Buffs bounced back from a hard fought 3-2 loss against No. 1 Stanford on Friday night to improve to 12-8 overall (4-4 Pac-12). Cal fell to 8-10 (0-8 Pac-12) with the loss.
“I’m really proud about the overall team effort,” coach Liz Kritza said. “The victory today was essential. I can talk very openly with coaches and players about what we have to do to get to where we want to be in early November and December. This was one that we had to have regardless of who we had out there playing. So, I’m pleased that they did that. We’re coming off of playing six ranked opponents and now we’re headed out for a two week road swing. I think that the level of toughness that these kids showed today is going to come in to play when we’re out on those matches.
Two other Buffs recorded double-digits in kills. Freshman Anna Pfefferle tied a career-high with 11 kills while hitting .455 with only one error on 22 swings. Katelyn Cuff had 10 kills in the win and also hit well at .318. Freshman Gabby Simpson had nine kills in the win and Neira Ortiz Ruiz recorded eight kills to help the Buffs to the victory. CU hit .280 in the match with 61 kills and 21 errors on 143 attacks. Junior setter Nicole Edelman directed the offence with 47 assists, a season-high.
“We’re playing really well and it’s nice for the setter to have multiple people scoring points,” Edelman said. “I think we had a good week in general so we need to just keep continuing that for our two road weeks.”
“Nicole did a fantastic job leading the team today, and her role was different today,” Kritza said. “We needed something different out of her today and she stepped up, and that's something that I rely on her for. There is a reason that she has been a captain for so long and for all of her accolades. It's because that she will do whatever is asked of her if it is for the progress, victory and development of this team.”
Defensively, sophomores Cierra Simpson and Gwen Herring each recorded 15 digs in the win. It was the first match back for Herring after missing the previous seven matches.
"Gwen did a nice job,” Kritza said. “She was able to adjust and really help us on the defensive side because they have some pretty live hitters. It's nice to have another option of a player who is comfortable on the court along with being aggressive and confident, and she did a really nice job. We're happy that she is back and we're looking forward to seeing more of her this season."
The Buffs out-blocked Cal 12.0-9.0. Austin posted a posted a career-high seven blocks. She had two solo blocks and five block assists. Pfefferle and Cuff each added five block assists as well.
Cal was led by Christina Higgins, who tallied a match-high 22 kills. Lillian Schonewise had 13 kills in the effort and hit .526.
The Buffs had an 11-7 lead in the first set, but after a Cal timeout, the Bears put together an 8-2 run to take a 15-13 lead in the frame. CU regrouped after calling its first timeout of the match and regained the lead at 17-16. Cal came back to even the game at 20-20 and took the lead on the following point (21-20), forcing the Buffs to spend its final timeout of the set. CU rallied out of the break, taking the next three points (23-21) and went on to take the set 25-23.
CU took a commanding 10-3 lead in the second set. The Bears got within four points at 17-13, but the Buffs took the next two points to regain a six point advantage (19-13). Cal took its final timeout of the set at that point, but CU didn’t slow down and took the following point. The Buffs finished off the set 25-16 with a 5-3 run which included three kills from Austin.
The Buffs had a 5-1 lead early in the third set before Cal came back to tie it up at 7-7. CU pulled back ahead and led 15-13 at the media timeout, but out of the break Cal recorded three straight points to take a 16-15 advantage and increased it to 19-17. CU used a timeout and took the next two points, tying the set at 19-19. The Bears spent a timeout and again used a 3-0 run to take a 22-19 lead. CU took the next point, but Cal finished the set with a 3-0 run (25-20).
The two teams kept the fourth set close. The Buffs had a 15-12 lead at the media timeout and increased it to 19-14, causing the Bears to take a timeout. Cal used a 3-0 run to get within two points at 19-17, forcing CU to take a timeout. Pfefferle tied her career-high with her 11th kill of the match on the following point (20-18). Once again, the Bears came back and tied the set up at 22-22. Katelyn Cuff answered with a kill and Pfefferle and Austin combined for a block on the next point to bring the Buffs to set point (24-22). CU won the match on a Cal attack error (25-22).
The Buffs will be on the road for the next four matches. Next weekend they will face Washington State on Friday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. MT and No. 3 Washington on Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. MT.
Notes: CU’s last win against Cal was in 2007. The Bears were ranked No. 11 and the Buffs swept them in Boulder…The Buffs are 9-1 when they win the first two sets…CU has split matches every weekend of Pac-12 play (4-4)…Anna Pfefferle had a career-best 11 kills in the match…Alexis Austin posted a career-best seven blocks…Attendance was 2,035…Senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson did not play in the match and her status for next week is undetermined.