Simpson Breaks Record, Austin Hits Career-High
BOULDER — University of Colorado senior Taylor Simpson got her record and junior Alexis Austin had a career night as the Buffaloes defeated Oregon State 3-1 (25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 25-17) in the final regular season home match of the season.
Simpson broke CU's single season kills record of 528 kills, which was set by Sarah Lodge in 1997. She entered the match with 516 kills and had 13 kills in the win, recording the record setting kill in the final point of the match. Simpson now has 529 kills this season.
"It's such an honor but I wouldn't be getting those kill without my team," Simpson said. "All credit to all of the passers and Gabby [Simpson] and Nicole [Edelman] because they're the ones were feeding me the ball. I couldn't do it without them so credit to them. It's nice [that she achieved the record at home]. Going out into the NCAA's, it just gives me more motivation to keep pushing past that record and set it higher. It's all about the team and I'm so glad I got to do it with this team."
Austin hammered 26 kills in the win and hit .396 with five errors on 53 attacks. This is the fourth time in her career she has tallied 20 or more kills in a match. She also recorded her first career double-double with 10 digs while adding three blocks.
"Honestly, I don't know what was going through my mind when I was hitting the ball," Austin said. "I was just really trying to watch out for the blocks and be able to dominate as well as send the seniors off with a win. What a good win. Being able to keep the team together even when we are frustrated at some points. I want to let them know that this isn't the end of the world and to just keep going and doing what we're doing and we'll eventually get there. My main goal was just to stay focused and avoid certain situations."
"We had Alexis go for 26 kills and she says she did it for her seniors," head coach Liz Kritza said. "We need to keep pushing ourselves to get better individually, but as a team we need to trust that there's a reason we are 19-12 and we are where we are and we've had the success we've had, it's because of this team group and we'll keep our focus on that. We're grasping the idea that the concept of being a really good, successful, productive team helps our players achieve their individual goals."
CU is now 19-12 (11-8 Pac-12), which is the most wins for the Buffs since the 2003 season when they recorded 21 wins. OSU is 18-12 (8-11 Pac-12). This was the last regular season match at the Coors Events Center for CU's four seniors: Kelsey English, Rachel Hargis, Neira Ortiz Ruiz and Simpson. The win was a nice way to send them off if CU doesn't end up hosting the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament next weekend.
"I think this morning everybody was a little bit sad because it is the last home game for us, potentially," Simpson said. "But, I think it's ending on a happy note that we got the win. It was a frustrating win but we got the win. I just want to give a shout out to Alexis [Austin] because she got 26 kills. That's awesome seeing her get that amount of kills coming into this next year because they're really going to need her."
The Buffs recorded 66 kills in the victory and hit .256 and held OSU to 45 kills and a .183 hitting percentage. Ortiz Ruiz added eight kills for the Buffs, while Gabby Simpson and Katelyn Cuff each tallied seven kills. Gabby Simpson helped to direct CU's offense with Nicole Edelman. Gabby Simpson handed out 29 assists, while Edelman had 27 in the match.
Another Simpson, Cierra, led CU with 24 digs, her 10th match this season with 20 or more digs. Taylor Simpson added 17 digs for her 20th double-double of the year and Edelman also had a double-double with 12 digs. The Buffs had 77 total digs compared to OSU's 56.
The Beavers were led by Mary-Kate Marshall, who recorded 17 kills and hit .226. Amanda Brown posted nine blocks for OSU and Tayla Woods picked up 18 digs.
The Buffs got out to a 15-8 lead in the first set. OSU took its second timeout at that point and climbed back within three points (18-15), forcing the Buffs to use a timeout. The Beavers took the first point out of the break before CU sided out with a kill by Austin. OSU got back within two points again at 20-18, but that was as close as the Beavers would get as the Buffs went on to take the set 25-22. Austin hit .778 in the set with seven kills on nine errorless attacks.
The second set was back and forth in the beginning. CU had a 6-2 lead before OSU went up 8-6. The Buffs retook the advantage with a 6-0 run (12-9) and the two sides stayed close down the stretch. The Beavers needed to take a timeout when CU had a three-point lead at 20-17. OSU took the first point out of the break, but CU answered with two straight points to take a 22-18 lead. The Buffs were able to close the game 25-20.
OSU had a 13-10 lead in the third game when the Buffs took their first timeout. The Beavers went on to increase the score to 20-14, causing CU to spend its final timeout. The Buffs started to cut OSU's lead and got within three points (22-19) when OSU took a timeout. The Beavers took the first three points out of the break to win the set 25-19.
Colorado recorded a 6-1 start in the fourth set to force OSU to take a timeout. The Buffs tacked on two more points before the Beavers sided out (8-2). OSU fought back to within two points (9-7), and this time CU needed to take a break. OSU took the next point, but CU answered with three straight points (12-8). The Buffs kept attacking and had a six-point lead at 19-13. The Beavers kept coming at the Buffs, getting as close as four points (19-15), but the Buffs closed out the set with a 6-2 run (25-17).
"This win is important for us because it's another step [closing out the home season with a win]," Kritza said. "It's another milestone. We talk about this program taking steps and making progress, this is another piece of it. Setting a goal for ourselves and understanding that we have to come up with certain wins and we want to send our seniors off in good fashion. It's possibly our last match on our home floor, regular season match for sure to be victorious and end on a good note. I think that helps with building momentum. It helps with team morale and our dynamics and it just gets us one step closer to the eventual goal of where we want this program to be. I'm pleased with the effort. The play wasn't clean the whole night. They understand this, they know that I want more, but I am pleased that we were able to grind it out and pretty much do what we needed to do to come away with the result that we wanted.
CU wraps up the regular season on Friday, November 28, against Utah in Salt Lake City. The match will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network at 12 p.m.
"Utah's no joke," Taylor Simpson said. "They're on a hot streak right now. They beat some top teams. We need to go in there with the same mentality we came in with today. That's a must win and we need to get that because it'll help us drive us into a better seed for the selection show and the tournament.
"We're treating it as though they're a different team than the first match-up, they've had some changes and they're playing well," Kritza added. "We want to be playing good teams that are playing their best as we're finishing out our regular season as we're preparing for post season play. We're expecting a good match-up, a good battle, a really fasted paced team. They play a 6-2, they have very good pin hitters, so we need to make sure we're rested and recovered. We're going to celebrate our four seniors today, and then rest and get right back to work so we put forth our best performance. We'll match-up really well, we're going in expecting to take care of business and to do that we need to be prepared and end the season on a positive note, it would be good to sweep another weekend of Pac-12 play as we head into the post season."
Notes: Taylor recorded her 20th double-double of the season…Simpson broke the CU single season kills record with 13 kills in the match; the previous record was 528…Alexis Austin had her first career double-double…She hit .778 in the first set with seven kills on nine errorless attacks…This is also the fourth time in Austin's career she had recorded 20 or more kills…The win is the 19th of the season, which is the most wins in a single season since 2003…CU is 11-8 in conference play, its most conference wins since 2003 (13).