Colorado Closes Out ASU With Sweep
BOULDER – Colorado volleyball closed out the 2021 home season with a sweep of Arizona State (25-23, 27-25, 26-24) Sunday afternoon here while also saying farewell to graduate transfer Rachael Fara on senior day.
The Buffs (8-10 Pac-12) finish out the season with an 8-3 record at home after defeated the Sun Devils (5-13 Pac-12) in three closely contested sets that each were separated by just a pair of points. Colorado's attacking diversity helped out in the win as six different Buffs hit for five or more kills.
Leah Clayton led the Buffs with nine kills, but it was the Meegan Hart show today as she had seven kills for a .312 hitting percentage, three aces and four blocks. Sterling Parker also had seven kills, while Fara and Jill Schneggenburger each had six. Fara, who currently is hitting for a school record hitting percentage in a season, ended the day with a .556 hitting percentage.
Setters Brynna DeLuzio and Jenna Ewert each had a solid day with 18 and 14 assists, respectfully, while Clayton and Zoe Neverdowski each had a dozen digs. Ewert also added a pair of aces and the Buffs put down eight today. Fara had two solo blocks and finished with three total, the same as Elissa Alcantara.
The Buffaloes have a short week with their NCAA day off tomorrow and a flight to Los Angeles Wednesday to take on USC on Thursday and Saturday. The Trojans had their match against Arizona cancelled today due to COVID concerns.
HOW IT HAPPENED
ASU started out with a three-point run and held a strong lead to 8-4 with three early aces. Another ace brought the lead to 12-7, then a play later CU called timeout down 13-7. Colorado started clawing back and came within one to force ASU to call timeout up 14-13. The Sun Devils extended the lead after the Buffs momentarily tied it up, pushing to the 20-point mark up by three. ASU called timeout as CU cut the lead to one at 20-19. The Buffs kept the four-point run going, taking the lead at 21-20 when Arizona State challenged a pancake dig. The challenge went unsuccessfully but ASU kept tying things up to 23 all. The Buffs earned set point on a Fara kill, then finished it off a play later on a Parker kill.
The Buffs took a commanding 6-2 lead after Hart dished out back-to-back aces to force an early timeout from the Sun Devils. ASU responded with a three-point run to bring the lead to just one at 7-6. The Buffs were hitting .385 at the 12-10 mark. Arizona State retook the lead at 15-14, then CU challenged a play successfully and took a 16-15 lead. The Buffs reclaimed the lead at 22-21, forcing a Sun Devil timeout. Set point came at 24-22, but ASU put down a pair of blocks to tie it up and force a CU timeout. An ASU ace set up set-point the other way, but a Fara kill followed up by a Hart and Schneggenburger block gave CU set point. Another Hart block with Parker gave CU the set at 27-25.
Colorado jumped out to a 4-1 lead behind a pair of blocks early. ASU came back to tie it up at five all as the Buffs were hitting .444. Neither team took a commanding lead as both were scrappy all over the floor before ASU challenged a call at 13-12. Five Buffs had atleast 10 swings with four hitting .200 or greater. The challenge went unsuccessfully, then the Buffs went on a four-point run to force a timeout. Ewert dished out a service ace to take an 18-15 lead. ASU tied things up, but the Buffs were the first to the 20-point mark at 20-18. ASU took the lead at 22-21, forcing a Colorado timeout. DeLuzio put down an ace to give CU a one-point lead, forcing ASU into a timeout. Match point came at 24-22, but not before ASU challenged a play unsuccessfully. Arizona State tied things up at 24, then ASU subbed the server who then dished it into the net and then attacked it high to give CU the sweep.
"Obviously happy to get the sweep on the weekend. This is a really competitive conference and playing the same teams back to back all year has been a unique challenge. We won in five on Friday even though it didn't feel like a competitive match that was a competitive match even though we won in three. I think that each set was won by two points and really well contested. Neither team passed particularly well which made it a bit of an ugly match from time to time. When both teams were in system, it was really high level volleyball. I was happy that we came in Saturday, we were really frustrated with our execution Friday night, and our team did a really nice job on Saturday and really executed. Today, we executed the defensive game plan and did a really nice job. It was a good match from that standpoint, now we hopefully have two more matches at USC and we will get really for those."
On Meegan Hart's Leadership
"We have a lot of great leaders on this team, Meegan certainly being one of them. She's a kid that leads by example, always wants to get better. She had a couple of really nice blocks today, which were kind of momentum changers. She's a kid that other kids look to when things are really tight because she plays the same game whether it is 0-0 or 25-25. She had a great match today, and we need to keep her going to be successful."
On How It Feels To Sweep ASU
"I know we got the sweep but today was more of a pressure filled match. I think both teams played really well. These are long weekends, it has been a really long season, it has been a really long week in Boulder, and I think we all have a lot of fatigue, and you could see that when we won that last point, there was a lot of relief. We talked about taking some time off and recharging ourselves and getting ready on Tuesday for next week."
On The Diversity Of The Offense
"It cuts both ways. We don't have one player that we depend on. We've got six attackers and we need several of them to be good. I thought that both of our middles were extremely good when we could get them in the ball. Jill (Schneggenburger) did a really nice job coming off the bench and scoring when we needed her to. Elissa (Alcantara) did a really nice job getting some key kills. And then Sterling (Parker) had a couple key blocks. That's the type of team we are. We don't have any one superstar. We have a lot of really good players and, like I said on Friday, when we're all on, we're good."
On Playing For .500 At USC
"It's a short week for us because we leave Wednesday morning to play Thursday and Saturday. Monday's off so we just really have one prep day before we go into that next match. That might even be good though because we're pretty veteran at what we're doing right now. It is the end of the year. USC's match today was cancelled at Arizona. Hopefully they get healthy and are able to host us next week. We want the opportunity to play. This is the most normal thing in our lives right now is the opportunity to play volleyball. We hope we get another week at it even though it's on the road. SC is really good. They just beat Arizona with an undermanned group. We're looking forward to challenging ourselves against really good teams."
On Missing Out On Playing Stanford
"Stanford's had a tough season mostly due to COVID and injuries. They're a very young team. I don't look at it in those terms. I would have liked to have played every match. There's been a lot of canceled matches in the year. I'm proud of the fact that we haven't had to cancel any on our ends. We've done a really nice job of keeping ourselves healthy. Would I like those matches back? Yeah, I want to play everybody in this league, especially the defending national champions. It is what it is and that's the year we're in. Hopefully everyone's healthy and ready to go next season."
On Playing After The Monday's Tragedy In Boulder
"That's never a fun situation to be in for anyone. There's definitely a lot of girls who took that to heart at the beginning of the week and we still do. I'm really proud that everyone was able to focus in and appreciate what we're able to do and what we can do today. I don't quite have a good answer for that because I don't think there is a perfect answer. It is just overcoming adversity and pushing through."
On Her One Year In Boulder
"I love the CU team here. The program is awesome from staff, support staff, through the team. I love each and every single one of the people here. I'm also extremely thankful that everyone was so welcoming to me from the day I stepped on campus. It's been a weird year with COVID, but everyone's been nothing but supportive of each other and myself. I'm glad we were able to form a lot of the relationships that we have. I think there's a lot of respect there. I'm just so appreciative of it."
"I think we did a really good job of dialing it in a little bit more than we did on Friday. Our block made a lot of adjustments which I'm really happy with. I'm a little biased towards that being a middle blocker, but we had some good passes in there and some good transition ball handles so they were able to get Meegan (Hart) and I some good balls. We just put in the work, put an effort and came out on top."
On Having The Single Season Hitting Percentage Record At CU
"I'll take it. Again, I'm so appreciative because there's so much that goes into that. I'm coming off of a shoulder surgery like a year, year and a half ago at this point. Steven, Taka (Sakamoto), our support staff, and our sports med personnel are a huge part of that. I definitely was a little nervous going into the season because I didn't know where my shoulder was going to be at where my body was going to be at, but it's been awesome. I'll take it."
On The Next Chapter Of Volleyball
"I definitely won't be saying goodbye forever. I might not be competing on the court so much, but you know I love coaching, especially the high school level. I coached for a season that I wasn't playing at Evanston. I really enjoyed that. There are ways to stay competitive. There are ways to stay in the game. I'll probably join some like rec leagues and play a bunch of sand volleyball too. I'll still be there just maybe not on an indoor court."
On Rachael Fara
"I think in her short time here being only a season, she did have a huge impact, especially being my middle (blocker) buddy. She helped me out a lot. She was always watching out for me blocking wise, hitting wise, and just giving me constant feedback. That's something I really appreciated. I think all of us did. She did that everyone. Like we said in the beginning, she's very caring and very supportive of her teammates. She wants the best for each one of us. Whatever we need like food, a joke, confidence, or anything she has you so. She left a big impact even though she's only been here for a short time."
On Playing In Front Of Fans
"Obviously with COVID we don't have as many fans as we usually would have, but I think it brought back some normalcy for us just having people watch. I don't think it made anyone nervous or anything, but I think we enjoyed it and it was helpful to kind of get back to being more normal."
"I think we just went back there with the mentality of being aggressive, putting the ball in play, and putting it on them because we know they struggled a little bit in serve receive. We wanted to put that pressure on the service line just to make things go easier."