Colorado Upends No.12 UCLA
BOULDER — Colorado volleyball put together its best match of the season Sunday afternoon, rallying back from a slow start to upset No.12-ranked UCLA by a score of 3-1 (27-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20) here.
The Buffs (5-7 Pac-12) overcame being down 14-5 to the Bruins (10-4 Pac-12) to start the first set and rallied back behind freshman Maya Tabron to take the first set 27-25. The freshman played her first significant time for CU and was key to a 7-0 run in the first set that started with her on the service line and included an ace. She then made starts in the next three sets, playing all six rotations for the rest of the match.
Tabron hit for 10 kills, the first time for her in double digits in her young career, but it was sophomore right side Sterling Parker looking like her 2019 self and leading the team with 15 kills and a .464 hitting percentage that made all the difference. She was joined by Meegan Hart who dominated the front row with 13 kills and a .545 hitting percentage with just one hitting error. Hart also had eight blocks, an ace and added four crucial digs. Leah Clayton had 14 kills and a .206 hitting percentage as CU hit .237 in the match.
The 6-2 offense was on full display with Brynna DeLuzio posting 27 assists and 11 digs while Jenna Ewert had 24 assists and seven digs. Both setters also put down a pair of aces to help CU win the service game. Despite all the offense though, CU's defense was the key to victory as the team put down 13 blocks and held UCLA to a .205 hitting percentage, including limiting All-American Mac May to just seven kills and a .032 hitting percentage. Anything that did get past the block was cleaned up by Katie Lougeay with 17 digs to go along with Clayton's 12.
With May consistently behind, UCLA turned to elan McCall, Emily Ryan and Allison Jacobs who had 11, 10 and 10 kills, respectfully. Zoe Fleck had a match-high 19 digs while McCall and Kate Lane had 11 digs.
The win ties for the second-highest ranked conference win under head coach Jesse Mahoney, tying the 2017 season that upset No.12 Oregon. The same team upset No.11 Washington, the highest-ranked conference win under Mahoney.
HOW IT HAPPENED
UCLA started things out with a 7-5 lead before rattling off seven-straight to take a 14-5 lead. Tabron came in and served for seven-straight herself to bring the Buffs back in it at 16-14. UCLA hit the 20-point mark up by four while hitting .478 as a team. The Buffs strung together three-straight after a block by Kuehl and Parker to cut the lead to one, 20-19. Colorado finally tied things up at 23 all with a Alcantara and Hart block, the second of the match for CU. Clayton put down a kill to set up set point and force UCLA into a timeout. UCLA was able to sideout but an overpass kill from Alcantara gave CU its second set point. A Bruins service error setup a third set point for CU, then a free ball off a Tabron serve set the Buffs up for a Parker kill and the set win.
Things finally separated from the start when UCLA took a 6-2 lead. The lead held to a 12-7 UCLA advantage before Colorado called its first timeout with UCLA on a four-point run. Colorado brought it within one at 13-12 when UCLA called its first timeout of the set as Parker led CU with seven kills and a .600 hitting percentage. The Bruins responded with a three-point run, forcing CU into its final timeout. Colorado challenged a service error unsuccessfully as UCLA took an 18-15 lead heading late into the set. The Bruins challenged a Clayton kill at 18-16, successfully calling it out but the refs called a tip on the hit. UCLA hit the 20 point mark with a one-point lead, but a Tabron kill tied things up at 20 apiece, forcing UCLA into a timeout. The Bruins took the next two points before a Tabron kill set herself up to serve. UCLA committed an attack error to tie things up at 22 all, but a service error set UCLA up with the lead. The Bruins hit set point at 24-22, finishing it off two plays later at 25-23.
Colorado took an early 4-3 lead off a Hart aces, which she followed up with an impressive dig to Clayton kill that had CU on a 4-0 run. An Ewert overpass fell for a kill, giving CU a 9-6 lead forcing UCLA into a timeout. The Bruins finally tied things up at 10 all, then Colorado reclaimed the lead and extended it to 14-12 off a DeLuzio ace. Immediately after UCLA went on a 3-0 run to take the lead 15-14 and force a CU timeout. Back-to-back blocks for CU gave them a 17-15 lead. UCLA tied things back up and the teams ran to a 19-19 set. A Parker kill set CU up at 20 points first, her 11th of the match while hitting .429. A Parker and Kuehl block gave CU a two-point advantage, but the Bruins notched things up at 21 all. Consecutive kills for Parker and Hart set CU up a point away from set point, which Parker earned with her 13th kill forcing UCLA into a timeout. Hart and Parker ended it with a block on May to give CU a 2-1 set lead.
UCLA found an early lead at 7-4. Kuehl put down a sliding kill and followed it with a solo block to close the lead to one at 8-7. A block error called on Parker was challenged by CU, unsuccessfully. Colorado once against closed the gap to one with the 12th block of the match for the Buffs at 10-9. The teams traded points until CU finally tied things at 14 all before taking the lead on an Ewert ace. CU extended its lead to 19-16, then Colorado challenged a play at 19-18, unsuccessfully. Colorado earned a 20-18 lead, then pushed to 21-18 on a block error by UCLA. An ace for DeLuzio forced the Bruins into a timeout down 22-18. Hart kept the run going with another kill before May finally ended the run at 23-19. Hart's 13th kill set up match point at 24-20, then she finished it off with a solo block a play later.
On The Win
"Kudos to our players for responding the way they did after Friday, and really responding the way they have during the streak that we've had. We've had great practices. We haven't given up. We've worked to make some changes and figure out ways that we can get better. It's rare that we do a lot on a day in between but we had a pretty long practice and got a lot of jumps in (yesterday) just because we had to get it right. They came out, and really just did such a great job, not only following a game plan which coaches always like, but just individually playing with some passion. It was good. It was good for us to get a lot of effort out of our team, especially after going down so big in the first set. We just kept working out and kept working at it, and won that set and I think that won the match."
On Approaching Mac May
"The same approach everyone else does. We want to make sure that we prioritized her when she was in the front row. Our middles watched a lot of film on the day in between, and kind of made a little bit of an adjustment on our hand placement and how we blocked. We slowed her down quite a bit and then when she jumped the ball around, when she tipped and rolled, we converted those. She's a great player and they're a great team. I think we slowed them down a little bit. That's a really good team and they're going to have a great rest of the way."
On Maya Tabron
"It's hard as a freshman to kind of get your feet under you. Sometimes it takes some time. Maya has been playing better in practice week after week. She could have come in for really any of our pins, but I felt like we needed a little bit more pop attacking wise. Not to say Jill hasn't been doing really well. Maya came in and played well and held the spot for the match. We'll see what happens next week but that's a big stage to really have your first go at it against one of the best teams in the country. I thought she played great."
On Katie Lougeay
"We have a lot of really nicely liberos and defensive specialists, and you know the 6-2 eats so many subs and we can't get them in maybe as much as I would like. But Katie has done a really nice job in serve receive. All weekend I thought Katie has played really well being in the right spots and setting the out of system ball really well to the outside. As the match went on she got more focused, more disciplined and let the ball come to her a little bit more and had a great match."
Meegan Hart, Jr.
On how it feels to win against a ranked team
"Words can't describe it, it feels great. We've been working really hard and I think that this is a testament to our team and our hard work by not giving playing at home. Now we have something to show and this is our house."
On what was working well during game
"I would give credit to our passers and our setters, they did a great job of getting the ball high and our setters delivered in the right spot. We just all did our job."
On team's defensive performance
"I think that it started on Friday, we just did a really good job. They didn't switch much so we knew what they were going to do, and we did a great job of executing our game plan."
Sterling Parker, So.
On how it feels to have friends and family in attendance
"It's obviously hard to play in an empty arena, so having people and especially our families, our number one supporters in the stands with us and just supporting us through everything means a lot. Especially on a big win tonight. I think that it means extra that we did get to have those few people who are our number one fans out there."
On what worked well during game
"I think that a large part has to due with our focus. I think that coming off of that loss on Friday we had a point to prove that we're going to get it done and we need to come in with focus. Defensively too we did a really good job of staying focused and sticking with the game plan that our coaches brought to us. I think that's really the main reason that we won today."