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Clayton’s 29 Kills Not Enough Against Huskies

Feb 19, 2021

BOULDER — Colorado volleyball redshirt senior Leah Clayton made her Boulder debut something to remember, posting 29 kills and a .333 hitting percentage in a 3-2 five-set loss (22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 25-20, 15-13) to No.10-ranked Washington Friday afternoon here.
 
The Buffs (4-3) drop their third-straight match despite posting more blocks, kills and aces than the Huskies (7-2). Colorado posted six aces, 11 blocks and 73 kills in the tightly contested match that came down to the wire. One kill, one assist, one service error and one dig were all the difference in the stats between the two teams.
 
Clayton's debut marks her down as the 12th Buff to ever hit for 29 or more kills in a match. She is just the third player in the modern rally scoring era to hit that mark, joining Taylor Simpson who last did it in 2014 and Kerra Schroeder, the first in the 25-point era in 2010. Clayton finished with a .333 hitting percentage and her first double-double for CU with 14 digs. She also added a pair of blocks and handled 33 receptions with only one error.
 
It was a heavy setter battle as Jenna Ewert and Washington's Ella May Powell both hit the 60 assist mark. Both also posted a pair of aces and had double-doubles as Ewert was third on the team with 14 digs. Outside of Clayton's 29 kills on 66 swings, Elissa Alcantara and Sterling Parker both had 14 kills. Parker led with a .263 hitting percentage.
 
Up front, Alcantara posted six blocks while Rachael Fara and Meegan Hart both record five blocks and seven kills. Brynna DeLuzio had 19 digs while Jill Schneggenburger had 18.
 
The rematch for these teams comes Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. MT. Washington hasn't lost a second matchup this season but were taken to five in Tucson against Arizona.
 
HOW IT HAPPENED:
First Set – The two teams opened the match with a tie at three all. Colorado opened the lead up at 8-5 as both teams were hitting negative early. Washington retook the lead at 11-10 when Mahoney called timeout. UW went on a six-point run before Colorado could sideout at 13-11. Washington challenged the next Colorado point, claiming Clayton didn't clear the 10-foot line on her attack unsuccessfully. Clayton gave the Buffs the lead at 15-14 with her fourth kill of the match already. Neither team led for much until CU took a 22-20 and Washington called timeout with Clayton taking over with six kills while hitting .364. Colorado reached set point on a DeLuzio ace at 24-21, sealing the set on a UW serving error at 25-22. Colorado had three aces and three blocks to lead to the early set victory.
 
Second Set – Same as the first set, the teams came out to a three-all tie. The tie continued to six, before CU took a quick 8-6. The tie pushed all the way to 14 with Clayton putting down her 10th kill to lead the match. Washington took the lead at 15-14 for the media timeout. A huge Hart kill gave CU the lead at 19-18, followed up by a Husky attack error and timeout at 20-18. Hart followed the break with another kill, her third. Washington rattled off three-straight to tie it at 22, forcing a CU timeout. CU took the lead momentarily as the Huskies brought it even at 23. Another UW kill brought set-point 24-23 and a CU timeout. Colorado held off set point on its first attempt, but Washington took the set 26-24. Both teams finished split and hitting the exact same at .262. Clayton led the way with 14 kills and a .333 hitting percentage.
 
Third Set – Colorado came out swinging, taking the first two points. CU held a lead to 6-4 as Clayton was up to 17 kills and eight digs. UW tied it up with a pair of points, but Colorado challenged the play at the net, unsuccessfully. UW went on a five-point run before CU challenged a play at the net with the score 11-7. A service error for the Huskies finally ended the run. The Buffs tried to battle back as close calls seemed to go against them every time to the media timeout at 15-11. Colorado came out swinging on a four-point run, timeout Washington. Clayton picked up her 20th kill and was just a dig away from a double-double. CU took the lead one play later on a Hart ace. Colorado called timeout as Washington took the lead against at 19-17 on a three-point run. The set continued as CU clawed back to a 21 tie. An Ewert ace gave CU the lead as Washington called timeout, 22-21. A huge block gave CU the lead at 23-22. Hart put down a tough serve that led to an overpass that Fara handled for the set, 25-23. Clayton finished with 20 kills as Parker earned her 10th. Washington brought its hitting percentage up to .310, but CU's six aces seemed to be the difference.
 
Fourth Set – UW took the first four points of the set, forcing a CU timeout. Clayton picked up her 10th dig and a double-double as CU trailed 5-0. The Huskies continued to roll to an 8-2 lead, hitting .545 in the set. The Buffs started to push back, closing the gap at 10-6. The Huskies led at the media mark, 15-9. Clayton found her 21st kill and followed it with a block assist as CU moved to a 15-12 gap. The Buffs pushed it to within a pair at 16-14, as Clayton started taking over with her 24th kill at 18-16. UW hit the 20-point mark up three as the teams kept trading points. Washington called timeout with at 22-20 lead after the teams combined for 12-straight sideouts. The Huskies came out of the break to close to a 24-20 set point. UW closed it out on a block error called on Fara.
 
Fifth Set – Washington started with the serve and got two early points to take a 2-0 lead.  After trading several points, Colorado was able to tie the game at 3-3.  The teams continued to tie the game at four, five, six, seven, and eight. Colorado tied up the match at 8-8 following the timeout.  Colorado was able to extend the lead to 10-8 before forcing Washington to call a timeout.  Following the timeout, Washington stopped the CU run and got two quick points to tie the game at 10-10.  Colorado took the lead back on a failed Washington challenge, where Washington quickly tied it up again at 11-11.  After Washington took the lead back at 12-11, Colorado took a timeout.  Washington scored another two points, causing Colorado to take its final timeout with Washington at match point, 11-14.  Leah Clayton kept the Buffs alive with two consecutive kills, racking up her 27th and 28th kills of the afternoon.  The Buffalo rally was cut short, with Washington getting the last point to win the fifth set as well as the match 15-13.
 
QUOTES
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On The Match
"That was a really high-level volleyball match. I thought both teams played well. Both teams hit around .300, offensively. It was a pretty good match on both sides. Both teams served and passed well. I think the difference in the match was maybe three points total in five sets so pretty evenly matched. We had our chances. We had our chances in set two and then it's a sweep. We had our chances in set five and made a couple unforced errors in crunch time. We'll regroup. We have a day in between and we'll get ready for Sunday. We'll make sure we take care of our bodies and we're all ready to go."
 
On Coming Out Slow In The Fourth Set
"There are point runs in every match. A lot of times you see them in a pivotal set when you're up and we were up 2-1 (sets) and feeling good about ourselves. Washington put some pressure on us, for sure. We got down five points and then we lost that set by five so there you go. I thought, outside of that, we really only had one or two point runs against us. I thought we did a pretty nice job and did a really good job in set three coming back. Meegan (Hart) from the service line brought us back and won that set for us. We know what we have to do. We have to be steady for every point in every set and every match. We don't really change what we do. We just have to make sure that we're ready to go."
 
On Leah Clayton
"You saw the Leah Clayton that we've been waiting for. She is physical, has a really fast arm, can pass, and can defend. I thought this was a great match for her. You can hear it in her comments, she doesn't care about that stuff. She's frustrated we didn't win, which I like as well. Not that we need her to get 30 (kills) every night, but we need her to be good to be successful."
 
On Setter Jenna Ewert And Washington Setter Ella May Powell
"They are two setters who were in the same class. I thought they were both top in their class. Both did a really nice job moving the ball around and getting everyone involved. I was really happy with Jenna's tempo and location tonight.  I think she put us in position to win the match and we couldn't quite get it done."
 
Leah Clayton, Sr., OH
On how team will improve from losing streak
"I think just finishing hard, and finishing strong.  We started off a little bit slow in some of the sets, and we need to make sure we come out ready to go, and ready to fight, and keep doing what the coaches are telling us to do to be in the spot that we need to be in.  We need to be ready to dig the balls that are coming at us fast, and blocking.  Limiting our errors is the biggest focus for us now, especially in crunch time."
On having successful Boulder debut
"I mean it's not too successful if we don't win, but I think that it's fine.  It's a team game and I'm glad that I was able to do my job today.  Hopefully I'll be able to do it again on Sunday, and just keep on fighting with my team.  I'll keep on making the right choices for them and come out with the win."
 
 
Elissa Alcantara, So., OH
On playing hard against 10th ranked team in the country
"I honestly think that we did a really great job playing today, we were really close.  We just need to get an early lead and just count on them."
On how it feels to have good home performance
"It felt really awesome because I knew that I didn't do my best at Washington State.  Just coming out and playing at home again was exciting, getting back on the court."
On what team will try to improve on for Sunday's game
"We were just talking about how there isn't many things that they changed, the just did the same stuff.  We're just going to come back and be better on our side, and play really disciplined."