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No. 21 Buffs Suffer Tough Loss To No. 15 UCLA

Nov 6, 2014

Stats | Boxscore

BOULDER — The No. 21 University of Colorado volleyball team suffered a tough 3-0 (25-17, 25-21, 25-23) loss to No. 15 UCLA on Thursday night at the Coors Events Center.

“We struggled to get going,” head coach Liz Kritza said. “We couldn’t find our rhythm. You can just look at the box score, the actual play isn’t that different. The differences that people are noticing that know our team, including our own team, our staff, our regular fans, is that we were not as sharp. We weren’t as aggressive tonight and that’s something that, when you’re playing your third ranked opponent in a row, you need to show up and have. And we just did not have that tonight.”

The stats were very even across the board, with both teams recording 45 kills. CU had 14 errors on 107 attacks to hit .290, while UCLA had just nine errors on 100 swings to hit .360. The Bruins recorded 42 digs and 6.0 errors, while CU had 38 digs and 4.0 blocks.

“We will get back in the gym tomorrow, we will watch film and we will work,” Kritza said. “But that’s one thing about these kids, is that they are resilient and they will always work. I have complete faith in them and the staff and we will have this group ready to go. We are not taking any loss lightly and every time we have a match like this, whether it’s hard fought five set thriller loss or it’s a tough one that we drop in three, we make the best use of it.”

This was CU’s first match as a ranked team since the latest AVCA poll came out on Monday. “I think that it does put at target on our back but we as a team see it as an award,” senior Taylor Simpson said. “As of tonight, I don’t think we were very deserving of it but I think we worked hard as a team and we’ve gotten where we need to be. Having that ranking, it means that you have to come in and play extra hard every night because nobody is going to take a night off against a ranked opponent.”

The Buffs (15-10, 7-7 Pac-12) were led by Taylor Simpson and junior Alexis Austin, who each recorded 12 kills in the effort. UCLA (17-7, 8-5 Pac-12) was led by the NCAA kills leader, Karsta Lowe, who tallied 18 kills in the match. Entering the match, Lowe was averaging 5.96 kills per set.

Austin hit an impressive .478 hitting percentage with just one error on 23 attacks, while Taylor Simpson hit .242 (four errors on 33 attacks). Offensively, Gabby Simpson had six kills for the Buffs, while Anna Pfefferle and Neira Ortiz Ruiz each added five kills. Katelyn Cuff also had five kills on the night and hit .556 with no errors on nine attacks.

Defensively the Buffs were led by junior Nicole Edelman who picked up 10 digs. Taylor Simpson recorded nine digs and sophomore Cierra Simpson added six digs.

UCLA got out to a 12-7 lead in the first set, forcing CU to take a timeout. The Buffs were able to close the gap to three points at 13-10, but after that, the Bruins recorded a 5-1 run to take an 18-11 advantage. The Bruins led 21-12 when CU put together a 3-0 run (21-15), but wouldn’t get any closer as UCLA went on to finish the frame 25-17.

The second set was much closer to start. It was tied 10-10 when the Bruins took a 7-3 run to take a 17-13 lead. CU took a quick timeout and recorded the first point out of the break (17-14), but UCLA sided out and took the next two points (19-14). The Bruins had a 23-18 lead when the Buffs took their second timeout. UCLA took the following point (24-18), but the Buffs were not done. CU fought off the following three set points (24-21), which made the Bruins use a timeout. UCLA took the set on the following point (25-21).  

The Buffs played much better in the third set. CU had a 7-2 lead in the first set, causing UCLA to take an early timeout. The Bruins came all the way back to even the set at 15-15, and this time the Buffs used a timeout. The two sides went back-and-fourth, and the score would be tied again at 20-20. UCLA pulled ahead 22-21, and despite CU’s effort, the Bruins closed the set 25-23.

“We had a talk in the locker room,” Taylor Simpson said. “Obviously we were down 0-2 and I think everyone got a little bit of fire under them. We came out on fire and we kind of just let go towards the end. I think it’s because everybody was a little bit tired and we were in a lull but we’ll just come back out on Sunday, bounce back and be ready for USC.”

Colorado hosts No. 19 USC, its fifth straight ranked opponent, on Sunday, Nov. 9 at 12 p.m.

Notes: CU’s next two opponents are ranked in the top 25...CU is 4-7 against ranked opponents this season…The Buffs will play four of the remaining seven matches at the Coors Events Center…CU is 9-3 at the CEC, all three loses are in Pac-12 play.