Buffs Take Down No. 14 Arizona In Tucson
TUCSON, Ariz. — It was a block party for the University of Colorado volleyball team on Friday night as the Buffaloes took down No. 14 Arizona, 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-15, 25-14) at McKale Center.
CU (13-8, 5-4 Pac-12) posted 16.0 team blocks in the win. Freshman Naghede Abu, the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Week, put up a career-high 11 blocks, two solo and nine assists, to lead both teams. Senior Alexis Austin posted six blocks (two solo and four assists), while sophomore Gabby Simpson, the reigning offensive player of the week, tallied five block assists. Also getting into the blocking action was sophomore Anna Pfefferle with three blocks and redshirt sophomore Joslyn Hayes had two blocks.
The Buffs have now won three straight matches against Arizona (13-8, 3-6 Pac-12), including two matches in Tucson. The Wildcats have been ranked in all three of those contests. The win is also CU’s fourth against a ranked opponent this season, its second on the road.
"That was a really great team win tonight," head coach Liz Kritza said. "A convincing win over a ranked opponent on the road is never an easy feat, but from the game plan on defense to the execution on the court to the confidence in our team as a whole, that was a victory on many fronts and I am proud of this group."
Austin led the Buffs with 20.0 points. Along with her five blocks, she hit a match-best 15 kills while attacking at a .312 clip. Simpson and Hayes each tallied 11 kills.
"Having more offensive balance was an important step for our team and Joslyn answered the call tonight," Kritza said. "It is good to see her continuing to progress to full speed in her return to play. Gabby held her own offensively as well and that is a key component to our success tonight.
“Alexis led the way offensively and did a nice job with her net play and defensive effort as well to lead in points on the match,” Kritza continued.
The Buffs recorded 49 total kills and hit .279 under the direction of senior Nicole Edelman who handed out 41 of CU’s 46 assists.
"Nicole did a nice job of keeping our offense firing and making the necessary adjustments to get us going when we needed to," Kritza said.
Junior Cierra Simpson had another busy night in the back row, picking up 23 digs for the Buffs as CU out-dug Arizona, which leads the Pac-12 in digs, 57-54. Austin recorded her fourth double-double of the year with a season-high 13 digs.
"CeCe continues to show her prowess defensively and established herself as an elite level libero in this league," Kritza said.
CU held Kalei Mau, who ranks ninth in the NCAA in kills, to nine kills. She was also held to a -.048 hitting percentage with 11 errors on 42 attacks. Nikke Attea led the Wildcats with 10 kills. UA hit .061 in the match with 52 kills and 42 errors on 164 attacks.
The first set was tied late at 19-19. Austin put the Buffs ahead by one and an Arizona attack error gave the Buffs a two-point lead, forcing the Wildcats to call timeout. UA took the first point out of the break with a kill from Tyler Spriggs, but the Buffs closed out the set with a 4-0 run (25-20) that included a pair of kills from Austin.
UA led the second set 7-3 when CU took a timeout. The Buffs fought back to within one at 12-11 and a few points later the score was tied at 13-13, causing UA to take a break. The frame would be tied again at 16-16, but UA would pull back ahead to a 21-19 advantage. The Buffs took a timeout of their own and after that, Hayes tallied a kill (21-20), but UA sided-out to regain the two-point advantage (22-20).
CU rallied back to even the frame at 23-23, which included a kill from Austin before UA took its final timeout of the set. Arizona took the first point out of the break, but Pfefferle recorded a kill to tie the game back up (24-24). The Wildcats sided-out on the following point and finished the set with a kill (26-24).
The Buffs led 14-9 midway through the third set and increased the advantage to 16-10, causing UA to take a timeout. Arizona didn’t have an answer for the Buffs as CU went up 20-12. The Buffs easily went on to take the set 25-15. CU hit .370 in the frame with 12 kills and just two errors on 27 attacks and held UA to .000 hitting efficiency with 10 kills and 10 errors on 44 swings.
CU led set four 9-5 when the Wildcats took a timeout. After two more consecutive points for the Buffs, UA took its last timeout of the game (11-5). The Wildcats took the following two points after the timeout (11-7), but the Buffs answered with two straight points of their own (13-7). CU went up 18-9, but the Wildcats put together three straight to get within three points (18-12), causing CU to call for a timeout. The Buffs put a stop to any chance the Wildcats had to make a comeback, closing the set 25-14. CU held UA to a -.030 hitting percentage (10 kills, 11 errors and 33 attacks) in the game.
Colorado is back in action on Saturday at 8 p.m. against No. 13 Arizona State (16-4, 5-4 Pac-12) in Tempe, Ariz.
"As is the case with every Pac-12 weekend, we have yet another top level ranked opponent to play tomorrow," Kritza said. "We are pleased with the first match of this road swing, but are not satisfied until we turn the page and prep for a tough Arizona State team tomorrow night."