Volleyball Set for 2021 Season
BOULDER – When the 2021 Colorado volleyball season begins, head coach Jesse Mahoney will have one of the most experience rosters he has assembled along with a plethora of young talent.
The first look at the Buffs comes this Saturday in the annual Black and Gold scrimmage. The team will compete against one another and the match is open to the public for the first live look at the Colorado volleyball team since November of 2019. The event is free to the public and spectators ages two or greater are required to wear a mask at the CU Events Center.
The team returns all but two from the spring season and is loaded at all positions, including boasting three setters. Add Top-30 national recruit Jahara Campbell to the outside hitter rotation with sixth-year athlete Leah Clayton, and the Buffs own depth top to bottom with young talent and experienced veterans.
"It will be an interesting season within the PAC given that almost every senior from last year fall/spring has returned for their bonus season," said Mahoney. "In some instances there are 15 scholarship players on rosters rather than the normal 12. The level of play within the league will be as good it has ever been. We've got a talented core returning and a solid freshman class that will push for time on the floor. "
The setting crew has never been more talented at Colorado with three individuals capable of running the offense. Jenna Ewert and Brynna DeLuzio both return and add Top-100 recruit Taylor Simpson to the roster. The team also added a pair of defensive specialists/libero to go with the strong passing crew for the Buffs that include Katie Lougeay, DeLuzio, Zoe Neverdowski and more with backrow experience.
On the outside there is Clayton, Campbell, Jill Schneggenburger, Maya Tabron, Sterling Parker and Kelley Levaggi. Colorado also has Meegan Hart returning to the middle along with redshirt sophomore Alexia Kuehl and Colorado-native Bella Simkus.
"We have a lot of depth at each attacking position," said Mahoney. "On the left we've got Leah returning as our top kill getter as well as Jill and Maya who both saw time last year. Jahara joins this group and will push for playing time as well. In the middle, we return veterans Meegan and Alexia both of whom improved last season, and add Bella to the mix – though this will be a learning year for her. On the right Sterling battled injury issues last spring but has looked good early, and Kelley may see time there as well."
The Buffs depth is on full display with a top-100 outside hitter in each of the past three signing classes in Campbell, Tabron and Schneggenburger.
"Our staff prides itself on recruiting not only great players, but also great people and we have certainly been able to do that over the last several classes. Our depth of talent on the current roster is outstanding and our team culture is in a great place."
This season will be a breath of fresh air before the team heads into an equally difficult conference schedule to what they played this spring. Last season saw the team face a CU record eight-straight ranked opponents, this season they have teams loaded with scholarship players, but before any of that happens the team will have a full slate of non-conference competition again.
"We love playing in the PAC but it will be nice to see some variety early this fall. I like our schedule – we have a nice mix of tough road matches as well as solid RPI matches throughout. I can't tell you how excited our players are to be back out in front of fans again this year!"
Expectations come one stage at a time for the Buffs. After the scrimmage, CU will have an exhibition against SC State before opening the season Aug. 28 against Xavier and Charlotte in North Carolina.
"We truly look to get better every day – we talk about the growth process and improvement throughout the four phases of our season: preseason camp, non-conference, first half of the PAC, second half of the PAC, and finally post-season. If we can improve through each phase we will be a very good team heading into the NCAA's."
The first home competition for Colorado comes in the Buff Invitational when they host Texas Tech Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. They will also play San Jose State that night at 7 p.m. before closing the tournament against Northern Colorado Saturday at 7 p.m.