Buffs Return To California
BOULDER – The University of Colorado women's volleyball team returns to the state of California for the second-straight week with a match against Cal Friday at 8 p.m. MT followed by a match against No.18-ranked Stanford at 2 p.m.
Colorado (11-4, 2-4 Pac-12) is looking to rebound after dropping a pair of matches in Los Angeles against UCLA and USC. The Buffs fell from the top-25 rankings but have an opportunity to make a statement against Cal (7-10, 0-6 Pac-12) and stop their road loss streak. The team will then seek their first win in Maples against the 18th-ranked team in the nation in Stanford (9-5, 4-2 Pac-12).
The Buffs are settling in with their new rotation led by Maya Tabron who set a career-high in kills and digs against USC with an 18 kills and 16 dig double-double. After struggling against UCLA offensively, Colorado had strong hitting performances against the Trojans in Tabron, Meegan Hart with 10 kills and Jahara Campbell with a career-high 13 kills.
On the defensive side of the net, Brynna DeLuzio continued to lead the team in digs and has tied or led the Buffs in every match this season. Alexia Kuehl and Meegan Hart each are averaging greater than a block per set up front alongside Jill Schneggenburger who is averaging .65 blocks per set and 2.09 digs per set.
Leading it all is Jenna Ewert who has done everything asked of her and more. She is one of only six setters in the NCAA that have at least 1.13 kills per set and nine assists per set. She is also second on the team with 2.44 digs per set and posting .57 digs per set. In total, she is second on the team in digs, fourth in blocks, fifth in kills, tied for the lead in aces and has 542 assists this season.
Sunday's matchup will feature the second sister matchup in three years for Colorado as Katie Lougeay's younger sister plays for Stanford.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN BEARS
Cal has lost seven straight matches but picked up a set in their first four conference matches against Stanford, USC, Arizona and Arizona State. They recently were swept on the road in their two matches in Oregon. Cal is allowing opponents to hit .217 percent while only hitting .211 themselves.
Katie Smoot leads the team with 3.53 kills per set as four Bears have 100 or more kills. Bella Bergmark has an outstanding .386 hitting percentage from the middle with 130 kills to go along with 12 aces. Setter Annalea Maeder is also dangerous at the serve line with 21 aces this season. The defense is spread out with five players averaging two digs per set, but Bergmark owns the net with 58 blocks this season.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
Stanford is looking to recover from last season when it didn't make the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. They defeated No.5 Florida at home in four sets before losing to the top-ranked Longhorns in Texas in a sweep. They also fell to No.13 Minnesota in the Pac-12/BIG TEN Challenge before taking down No.18 Penn State in five sets. Their non-conference schedule finished with a win at home against No.6 Nebraska in four sets and a loss to the defending national champions No.8 Kentucky on the road in five sets.
The Cardinal fell to UCLA at home in five sets and are coming off another loss against No.14 Oregon in five sets in Eugene. They will take on Utah Thursday before having two days to recover for the Buffs.
Stanford is hitting an outstanding .279 hitting percentage but allowing opponents to hit .218. They average 13.3 assists per set and 2.8 blocks per set for a good balance. Caitie Baird leads the team with 4.04 kills per set on a .278 hitting percentage, but not far behind is Kendall Kipp hitting .321 with 3.55 kills per set. Those two make up more than half of the team's kills this season. They are both good servers as well with Baird having 15 and Kipp having 17. Katie Lougeay's little sister Alex also has 17 for the Cardinal. Defensively, Elena Oglivie leads the conference in digs per set at 4.73 while McKenna Vicini is averaging 1.4 blocks per set.