Colorado Opens Home Season Hosting Buffs Invitational
BOULDER – Colorado volleyball will host four matches this Friday and Saturday that go along with a pair of matches at Northern Colorado for the 2021 Buffs Invitational.
The tournament includes six total matches with Northern Colorado, Texas Tech, San Jose State and the Buffs. Texas Tech already completed the first match of the tournament, sweeping UNC Wednesday night in Greeley. San Jose State takes on UNC tonight at 6 p.m., then action switches to Boulder for the final four matches. Colorado will open with a 10 a.m. match against Texas Tech Friday morning, then take on San Jose State Friday night at 7 p.m. San Jose State and Texas Tech will compete Saturday at noon in Boulder, then Colorado will host UNC for the finale of the tournament Saturday at 7 p.m.
Colorado enters the tournament undefeated and receiving votes in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll with its 4-0 record intact. The Buffs have had four season starts with a 4-0 record under head coach Jesse Mahoney, the best of which came in 2017 when the team went six-straight and won 10 of 11 matches in the non-conference season.
The Buffs high-flying offense will look to carry this team through the tournament with Leah Clayton and Jenna Ewert leading the efforts. CU as a team is ranked 39th in the nation in assists per set and 42nd in kills per set. Most of that is due to Ewert being ranked 29th in the nation in assists per set at 10.75 while Clayton is 19th in the nation in kills per set at 4.56 and 22nd in the nation in points per set at 5.03.
On the other side of the net, the Buffs back row has been strong with Brynna DeLuzio fourth in the Pac-12 with 4.19 digs per set while leading CU to the 3rd-best digs mark for a team in the conference. Their backrow cleanup and the effective blockers have earned the Buffs with the 32nd-best mark in the NCAA in opponent hitting percentage at just .143.
All of the matches will be live streamed on the Pac-12 Network here with live stats also available here.
SCOUTING THE RED RAIDERS
The Raiders have a 6-2 record heading into Boulder with their two losses coming against Tennessee in a five-set match in Knoxville and against No.6-ranked Ohio State in a sweep. They have wins over East Tennessee State, NC State, Abilene Christian, Texas State, Rhode Island and UNC, including completing the reverse sweep of NC State after coming back from down two sets to none.
Texas Tech has an impressive .248 team hitting percentage and are dishing out 2.8 blocks per set. Their attack is spread out and led by Kenna Sauer who is averaging three kills per set with 60 total. In all, three Raiders have 50 or more kills this season. Up front, Brooke Kanas has 21 blocks already this season in just 18 sets played.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
The Spartans enter with a 4-1 record with their lone loss being a sweep to No.14-ranked Oregon in Eugene. The team has wins against Santa Clara, Portland State, Sacramento State and Saint Mary's College. They take on the Bears tonight in Greeley at 6 p.m. MT.
SJSU is hitting .225 as a team and has a strong serve game with 2.53 aces per set, good for fourth in the nation. They are also ranked 36th in kills per set, 27th in assists, 23rd in digs and 23rd in team attacks per set. Both Mia Schafer and Yazmin Pitpit are ranked in the top-100 in the nation in aces per set while Schafer is ninth in the nation in assists per set. Libero Sarah Smevog is 34th in the nation in digs per set at 5.12.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Northern Colorado suffered its first loss of the season Wednesday night in a sweep against Texas Tech. Prior to that they won five-straight, including a five-set win over Northwestern, a five-setter over CSU and sweeping Denver. They are receiving votes in the AVCA poll.
Kailey Jo Ince leads the attack with 85 kills (3.54 per set) and is joined by Makenzie Harris with 62 total kills. On the defensive side, five players have more than 40 digs this season led by Kyndall Feather's 74 (3.08 digs per set). Lauren Strain has a team-best 20 blocks and is the only Bear in double-figures.