Buffaloes Serve Past ASU In Five Setter
BOULDER – Colorado volleyball put down a season-best 13 aces Friday evening against Arizona State to seal a wild 3-2 (13-25, 25-16, 25-13, 14-25, 16-14) victory here.
CU (7-10 Pac-12) rallied twice after dropping huge sets in the first and fourth by 12 and 11 points, respectfully, to down the Sun Devils (5-12 Pac-12). The back-and-forth match never saw a set-point in jeopardy as the closest was eight points away in the second set.
Colorado was excellent from the service line in the winning sets, putting down 13 total aces as a team, the most since 2015. Jenna Ewert had a huge day with five aces while Katie Lougeay put down three in a single service run in the middle of the match.
The other key to success for the Buffaloes was distribution. Six Buffs took 15 or more swings and five of those hit for .260 or greater. Leah Clayton led the Buffs with 13 kills and a .297 hitting percentage while Elissa Alcantara had nine and a .294 percentage. Maya Tabron, Sterling Parker and Meegan Hart all added eight kills as well. Setters Ewert and Brynna DeLuzio kept ASU on their heels with 22 and 21 assists, respectfully. Clayton and Ewert both picked up double-doubles with 12 and 11 digs, respectfully.
On the defensive end, freshman Maya Tabron stepped up big with 13 digs. Alexia Kuehl led the team with three blocks.
ASU had a solid night as well, hitting .316 as a team behind Iman Isanovic's 18 kills and .255 hitting percentage. Marta Levinska added 15 kills while Roberta Rabelo had 14. The two teams rematch Sunday at noon in Boulder.
HOW IT HAPPENED
ASU jumped out to an early 5-2 lead before coach Mahoney went to his challenge card but was unsuccessful. The Sun Devils held a slight lead to 8-4 as both teams hit over .600. ASU pushed to a 12-8 lead off a service ace as neither team had hit an attack error through the first 20 rallies. A timeout came a play later as the Sun Devils forced the first attack error off a block. ASU went on a run behind strong serving game to an 18-11 lead. Mahoney called timeout a play later with ASU on a four-point run. Arizona State hit the 20-point mark with an eight point lead as ASU was hitting .583. Morgan Riddle subbed in as the Buffs were struggling to handle the serve. Isanovic dominated the match with six kills and a .600 hitting percentage to go along with one of the team's four aces in the set. The Buffs hit .357 but could not handle the serve. ASU didn't commit a hitting error in the set.
Buffs jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead with a block. ASU called an early timeout after CU took a 7-2 lead. The lead pushed out to 11-5 behind a Clayton ace. Arizona State put together a three-point run to close the gap at 11-8. Arizona State called timeout down 14-9 as Tabron and Parker joined the four kill club for CU with Alcantara and Clayton. ASU challenged a play at 17-11, unsuccessfully. Colorado pushed to a 21-13 lead after a block from Parker and Kuehl. Colorado hit set point at 24-16, finishing it off a play later. The Buffs hit .324 in the set and held ASU to a .171 hitting percentage. Clayton was leading CU with six kills and a .429 hitting percentage while Isanovic had 10 kills.
The teams traded blows to a 7-7 tie. A challenge came at 11-8 for ASU as they reversed the point to 10-9. Colorado went on a 5-1 run that forced ASU into a timeout. Lougeay put down an ace to push the lead to 18-12, forcing ASU into its final timeout of the set. Lougeay put down two more aces as CU rallied to a 23-12 lead, making it three in the serving run. Set point came at 24-13 and ended on an overpass kill for Leah Clayton. The Buffs lowest hitting percentage for a player was Parker at .231 as Clayton, Alcantara, Hart and Kuehl all hit over .400.
Colorado took a quick 3-1 lead to start the set. Mahoney challenged a touch at 3-3 unsuccessfully. The Buffs called timeout after ASU put down four-straight to take an 8-4 lead. The Sun Devils took a 12-7 lead before CU challenged a service error at 13-8, unsuccessfully. ASU held the lead to 17-11 as CU was hitting just .111 in the set. Arizona State made a setter change up 18-12, hitting the 20-point mark two plays later. The Buffs called timeout down 10, 22-12. ASU finished it off at 25-14 as CU hit .042 in the set and Arizona State had three aces in the set.
The Buffs got the first point to start the set, but Arizona State had two quick points to take the early 2-1 lead. A kill from Alcantara brought the game back to 2-2. After a serving error, Colorado brought the game back to even at 3-3. Arizona State had a two point turn at serve until Clayton had a kill followed by an Ewert ace to tie the game again at 5-5. The Sun Devils unsuccessfully challenged the ace, and CU kept the ball. After two continuous points for the Buffaloes, ASU called a timeout with the score at 7-5. Ewert's service run came to a close after a kill by ASU to bring the score to 8-6. After two Arizona State points, Colorado called a timeout with the score even at eight. Colorado won the serve back and after an ace from Schneggenburger, Arizona State called a timeout with CU leading 10-8. After trading serves back and forth, a kill for the Sun Devils evened the score at 11-11. With the score tied at 12, Colorado used a Hart kill and an ASU error to get to match point 14-12. Arizona State gathered two unanswered points to tie the match at 14-14. Clayton had a kill to bring the Buffaloes back to match point, and a Sun Devil set error sealed the five set victory for the Colorado Buffaloes, winning the final set 16-14.
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On The Match
"We're happy to get out of tonight with a win. It's rare to have a five set match where you would think it was competitive, but most of the sets weren't. Most of the sets were blowouts and that had to do with serving and passing. When we passed we won sets and when we didn't we lost sets. That's a young team that's getting better. They just had a win over Stanford last week and a win over Arizona. I think they have some young players that are learning what it's like in the Pac-12. I have a sense that they'll probably be better on Sunday after being here and playing in this arena. We'll have to regroup tomorrow, take a look at some of the things that we missed from a system standpoint, and be ready to go on Sunday."
On The Week
"It has been tough for everybody across the country and certainly in Boulder itself. We practiced on Tuesday and we spent some time talking about the event. We had some kids who were pretty shook up. As everyone knows who's been in Boulder, there's been appall over the town all week. You do your best to compartmentalize parts of your life when you're an athlete and sometimes it's really hard to do. It's been a rough year on top of that from a COVID standpoint. I can go on and on, but I think our kids are handling it and dealing with it as best as they can and trying to process things like that that are happening in our lives."
On The Season
"It's been a really strange year. I think when we were healthy in the early part of the year we were a little bit more dangerous. You've seen flashes of us being healthy in some matches here. We have a couple top-15 wins. It's not every year that happens. You look at the match at the end there and we had a bunch of freshmen and sophomores on the floor. I think it's been hard to sustain the level that we need on the floor, given kind of everything that's going on in their lives. I think we are getting better. I think we are understanding what we need to do. After the Arizona weekends, we talked about focusing on getting better for next year and what we need to do and how we're going to spend our remaining time that we get to play. I think the kids bought in really well. Our practices are great. Our energy is great. I think we're fighting. The short answer is yes, I think we're getting better."
On Leah Clayton Returning Next Fall
"Leah wants to return. We want Leah to return so that's our plan. Rachael's (Fara) graduating with a Master's in chemical engineering. She's already an adult, but moving into the adult world. Rachael is going to play on Sunday as banged up as she is, but we're going to send her out right."
"I think we were, to be honest, pretty hot and cold. I thought the first set we did a really poor job from the service line and then we got better. From then on I thought a lot of people had a lot of really nice runs and it's hard for me to remember all of them. I thought Taylor deProsse came in several times and created some separation for us. Jill (Schneggenburger) at the end after being yanked in the first set comes in the fifth set and gets an ace right away. We understand that any team in the Pac-12, and that team for sure, we have to serve tough and get teams out of system to win matches. I was happy that after the first set we amped it up."
On Spreading Attacks Around
"I think the 6-2 creates that. It's hard to camp out on any one and I think when we passed well, we scored really well in the middle. That was one of our goals for this match was to get the middles more involved. I think we've done that even maybe a little bit more. Each set I think we have a different player who steps up which is good to see. Now, if every set every player stepped up we would be the team that we wanted to be."
Redshirt Senior Leah Clayton
On The Week
"It's actually been really tough. I know the practice right after it happened, it didn't feel right to be there. That's something that we've tried to respect and take that outside of practice. I know it affects some girls on our team more than others. I know Maya's (Tabron) father is a police officer so it kind of hit home more for her. but all of us were deeply saddened and deeply affected by it. It definitely shifted our focus in the beginning of the week, for sure."
On The Match
"I think tonight we know that we could have definitely won this game a bit better, but tomorrow we're going to look at that and the film and just try to be better for the last game at home and try to get another W, and then go on the road and do the same thing."
On Spreading Around Attacks
"I think we always try to be diverse. I think we do a really good job of moving the ball around, especially our setters. They try to find where each hitter is open and where the blocks set up on the other side, so they definitely set us up to be successful. We just have to keep going hard at it and keep swinging high. I think that's what we focused on mainly tonight, to just keep driving and keep going at them."
Junior Jenna Ewert
On How This Week Effected The Team
"It has been a rough week and it has been a rough season. It has been weird with COVID. Every hit we take, and every time we come into practice it feels a little bit off, I think that we use that in the next practice or game and we just try to shake it off a little more. Having a good weekend at home is always what we strive for. We love playing for the little amount of fans that we get in the stands. We are definitely going to use these last couple matches as a springboard into the fall, to end on a high note or as high as possible. Get as much as we can out of the rest of the season and come back in the fall ready to grind."
On If Team Has Improved On The Season
"Yeah, 100%. I think that we started off strong and we hit a little roadblock for a while there. The most you can do at that point is just work your way upwards and I think that's what we've been trying to do. We've still had a couple of rough weekends and rough games here and there, but I think every win that we get we take for what it is. Tonight, maybe we didn't play our best, but we are still going to take it. We are going to go home with smiles on our faces and we are going to use it to play better in the next match."
On How Team Felt Serving
"I felt great at the line honestly, I think everybody felt really on. We serve in here every single day, and we try remind ourselves in games. We know what we're doing, we know how to drive it there, and I think today that just kind of clicked for us. We felt really comfortable and we put it where it needed to go."
On How Team Spread The Ball So Well
"We play our best games when everyone is one, when every swinger is getting up there and getting a swing at it. Making the defenders on the other side really have to dive for it. We have the diversity, we have huge pins, we've got middles that go in front and they go behind. They swing away as much as they can, and they try to place it if they don't. Whenever we don't hit it we place it, and that shows that we are going to work to get a point."