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Colorado Secures Buffs Invitational Title

Aug 26, 2022

BOULDER — The University of Colorado women's volleyball team opened the 2022 season by taking down Green Bay (3-0 | 25-10, 26-24, 25-20) and Western Michigan (3-1 | 22-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-17) here Friday to secure the Buffs Invitational title on just the first day of the tournament.
Sixth-year graduate student Meegan Hart led by the charge for the Buffaloes (2-0), combining for 28 kills and a .577 hitting percentage through the first two matches. She also had seven combined blocks and four digs in the process. In the early match against Green Bay, Hart had 14 kills and a team-high .619 hitting percentage, then followed up with another 14 on .542 hitting in the second match.
Outside hitters Maya Tabron and Lexi Hadrych had strong performances as well offensively. Hadrych put down 13 kills with a .474 hitting percentage in her Buffs debut, while Tabron recorded a double-double with 11 kills and 12 digs in the night cap. Hadrych finished with 23 total kills while Tabron had 21 kills and digs. Tabron also had a team-best four combined aces.
The Buffs' offense was led by sophomore Taylor Simpson who split duties with Brynna DeLuzio throughout the matches. Simpson had 27 assists in the first match, averaging nine per set, then raised that to 10 per set against the Broncos with 40 assists. Both matches had equal distribution with four hitters with 19 attacks in the first and four with 21 or more in the second.
On the defensive end, Alexia Kuehl anchored the net with seven blocks against Green Bay and four against WMU. Katie Lougeay started at libero and had 17 digs against Western Michigan, finishing the day with a team-best 23 digs.
The tournament started in the morning with Western Michigan defeating Denver, followed by Green Bay taking down the Pioneers as well. With CU's final opponent having two losses and Colorado defeating the only other teams that could have a 2-1 record, Colorado secured the tournament on the first day. The team will look to finish off the weekend perfect as they face head coach Jesse Mahoney's former team in Denver tomorrow night at 6 p.m.
SET ONE: The first set got off to a relatively even start, with neither team holding more than a three-point lead for the first part of the match. Leading 8-6, the Buffs then rattled off 17 of the next 21 points to win the set 25-10. Lougeay served eight straight times for the Buffs, pushing a 10-7 lead to 18-7 and the Buffs then coasted to the 15-point set win. It's the Buffs best set-score differential since beating Charlotte 25-7 in the second set last season on Aug. 28. Overall, it's the Buffs 16th match holding an opponent to 10 or fewer points in a set since the 25-point rally system was implemented in 2008.
SET TWO: The second set was much closer. Green Bay started fast, opening up a 6-1 lead right out of the gate before the Buffs rallied to even the score at 8-8 with a Schneggenburger ace. After a 10-10 tie, Green Bay opened a lead that remained between two and four until almost the end. Down 24-20, the Buffs rallied to score the final six points of the set to steal the win. Simpson was at the serving line for that 6-0 run. Tabron had the first two kills to make it 24-22 and Green Bay took a timeout. Out of the timeout, Hart got a kill followed by another Tabron kill to tie the set at 24-24 as the Buffs successfully staved off four set points. Simpson was credited with a kill on a Green Bay blocking error and then Schneggenburger closed out the set with a kill.
SET THREE: The third set was extremely close throughout, but the Buffs held the lead throughout with just one tie at 19-19. From that point on, the Buffs out scored the Phoenix 6-1 to close out the set and match. Perry had an ace, Kuehl and Schneggenburger each had blocks and Tabron had the kill that put the set away.
NOTES: The Buffs were clutch at the end of the sets. Set two down 24-20, had a 6-0 run. Set three ended on a 6-1 run. Set 1 was 5-1 at the end, even though that one wasn't close.

SET ONE: Colorado jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead early on in the set. The Buffaloes held a consistent three-point lead for several series to make it 8-5. Western Michigan tied things up at 10 all as it was barely outhitting CU .353 to .333. The tie continued to 15 shortly before Colorado racked up two straight kills to go up 17-15. The Buffs held a two-point lead at 20-18 as Tabron had four kills on four attacks, hitting 1.000. The Broncos responded with a three-point scoring run to take a 21-20 lead and force a CU timeout. Out of the timeout, Western Michigan extended the scoring run to five to go up 23-20. Merz and Case combined for a block to give the Broncos set point at 24-21. WMU took the set 25-22 on Marr's fifth kill of the set. Hart and Hadrych both finished the set with three kills apiece for the Buffs. King totaled four kills with a .400 hitting percentage for Western Michigan.
SET TWO: Both teams fought back-and-forth to start the set and found themselves in a four all tie. Marr picked up her sixth kill for WMU after Colorado's game challenge was unsuccessful. Western Michigan led 7-4 after two more kills from Marr. The Buffs came back to tie things up at 10 and then took a 12-10 lead after four unanswered points. CU held a 15-14 advantage over WMU before the Broncos put together a scoring run of their own to take a 17-15 lead. Colorado took its first timeout of the set while trailing 19-16. After the timeout, Tabron shortened the deficit to just one at 19-18 with her first service ace of the match to go along with her five kills. The Buffaloes took their second and final timeout of the set as the Broncos led 22-19. Out of the break, CU rallied back and tied things up at 23 all after Hart's eighth kill of the match with a hitting percentage of .667. Tabron set up a Colorado set point with her seventh total kill and forced WMU to take its first timeout of the set. The Buffaloes four-point scoring run was made up of two kills from both Hart and Tabron. King tied things up at 24 all before CU quickly responded with a kill from Hart. Tabron's eighth kill gave the Buffs the win in the set at 26-24. Through two sets, Louegay led all players in digs with 10. Simkins of Western Michigan had the second most digs with seven. 
SET THREE: After trailing 5-3, the Buffaloes went on a 3-0 scoring run to take a 6-5 lead. Later in the set, CU took a three-point lead after a combined block from Kuehl and Hadrych. Kuehl picked up her third block of the night as Colorado led 12-9. A failed game challenge by Western Michigan set up a 15-11 lead for the Buffs. After the review, Marr shortened the Broncos deficit to three at 15-12 with her 12th kill of the night. CU took another four-point lead forcing a WMU timeout at 19-15 as the Buffaloes were outhitting the Broncos .345 to .235 in the set. Hadrych picked up her eighth kill of the match to extend Colorado's lead to seven at 22-15 and cap off a 5-0 scoring run. A service error committed by Western Michigan led to a CU set point. Schneggenburger finished things off with her fifth kill to give the Buffs the set 25-18. Through three sets the Broncos had committed 11 service errors compared to Colorado's five.
SET FOUR: The Buffs quickly took a 4-2 lead before WMU tied it at four all behind King's third service ace of the match. CU then scored four unanswered points to take an 8-4 lead. Colorado took a six-point lead at 11-5 while outhitting Western Michigan .250 to -.177. The Buffaloes 3-0 scoring run led the Broncos to take their first timeout of the set. WMU came out of the timeout with four unanswered points of its own to cut its deficit to just two. Colorado took its first timeout of the set while leading 11-9. Kuehl put an end to Western Michigan's five-point scoring run with her seventh kill of the match. Tabron's third service ace of the night gave the Buffs a 15-10 lead during a 4-0 scoring run. Hadrych reached double-digit kills off an assist from DeLuzio as CU held a 17-13 advantage. The Broncos took their first timeout of the set while trailing 20-14 following Schneggenburger's seventh kill of the match. Hart racked up her 14th total kill, extending Colorado's scoring run to five unanswered points. Kuehl picked up her fifth block and Schneggenburger picked up her third as they combined for a block to give the Buffs set point. CU won the set 25-17 after Tabron's 11th total kill. The Buffaloes outhit Western Michigan .250 to .031 in the set. Simpson led Colorado with 40 assists and Case led WMU with 43.
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On Today's Match
"It was a good match to get going. I felt like it was a little stop-and-go for us. We played so well in the first set. That's about as clean as a volleyball set you can have. I'd like to not be behind in the second set, but it was a good opportunity to fight back and really dial in and play well. Coming back, I don't know how many points we scored to finish it, five or six or something like that. That's hard to do no matter who you're playing. I was excited about that. We played a decent set in the third to finish it. When you look on the stat sheet, we hit .320. They hit .070 or something like that. You feel like that's a blowout, but that's not how it feels in the match sometimes because we just weren't as consistent as we need to be. We let them off the hook a couple of times. So, I thought there were some bright spots, Meegan hit a quiet .620 or something like that. That's pretty impressive out in the middle position. I thought our two left sides did a nice job, making good choices with the ball. I thought our setting was excellent from both setters. A good way to start the season. We have to get better this weekend progressively and for the rest of the season as well."
On Libero Switching
"I don't think we are in that position where anybody has grabbed it, and it's just theirs. For the players on the mixing board, I was trying to allow them to fight for it. Katie is a fantastic passer and probably has been our best passer this preseason. That's why she got the nod, and then Savannah has been our best defender this preseason. That's why I've been putting her in there to defend, and for the most part, she has been doing an excellent job as well. It was kind of like hey, let's give everyone a go and a taste so when they're called upon, later on, they're ready to go."
On Sterling Parker
"Sterling has been cleared, and I think she's ready to go. Her shoulder is not totally where you want it to be. Will we see her this weekend? I hope so. I was hoping to get her in that match. I'm hoping to get her in the next one. Again, just to get her feet wet a little bit. She is now light years ahead of where she was a month ago, and we're going to bring her along the right way so, when she's ready to go, she can get out there."
On Rotation
"I think we've got a lot of depth, which cuts both ways. Because there are a lot of people fighting and doing good things in practice who deserve opportunities and matches, but there are only so many kids that can be out on the floor.  We're going to try to reward some kids that are still in the mix for some spots. I don't think anything is set in stone this weekend or next week. We're trying to get everyone an opportunity. I know that they're going to be called upon later on in the season, and we want them ready to go."
Outside Hitter Lexi Hadrych
On Deciding To Play For The University Of Colorado
"I arrived about eight weeks ago, maybe a little sooner. But I've loved it ever since I came here. It's been really exciting. I love the mountains, the academics, and the athletics. I knew Jesse and the whole coaching staff before when I was younger, in high school, it was just like the recruiting kind of thing. I just fell in love with the campus and honestly, this team is amazing. Everybody's so nice and I'm just so happy to be here."
On Coming Back In Second Set From 24-20 With Six Straight Points
"Honestly, everything started clicking. The passing was great, the setting was amazing, and then Taylor Simpson just kept serving like crazy. Taylor just set the ball perfectly every time to where I could find it."
Middle Blocker Meegan Hart
On Hitting Over .600 In The Whole Match
"I give all the credit to my teammates and we were passing really well, like Lexi said. Brynna DeLuzio and Taylor Simpson did a great job bringing the ball up and I just had to do my job best I could with getting the ball away. So I mean, this was a team effort, serve well, and pass well."
On How Passing Lead To Meegan's 21 Attacks
"I feel like when you're passing well, I can push middle and pitch tempo, so that helps a lot. They just did a great job setting the ball and doing my job."
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On The Match Against Western Michigan
"I'll tell you, Western Michigan's a really good team and they run a really fast offense, as fast as we're going to see all year. I thought their setter was really, really good. And essentially it just took us a while to catch up to the speed. We did not start to get there until the middle of the second set and then I think once we kind of caught up to the speed and adjusted to what they were doing we were able to separate and pull ahead. And it didn't feel easy, but I thought we scored really well in sets three and four, so it was good. It was a good start. I liked that we were pushed today. I liked that we responded in both matches. And we're going to have to continue to get better."
On Switching From a 5-1 To A 6-2
"Yeah, I mean, it wasn't anything that the 5-1 wasn't doing it's just trying to get some size on the front row and get Sterling in and get her feet wet because you know Sterling, as she gets healthier, she's going to be playing more so we wanted to get her out there. And you know, obviously, we know Brynna can set really well and defend. I thought every time we did it, we had a little mini-point run and it was helpful. So, we're going to do everything we can to win."
On Facing His Former Team Tomorrow
"I had a great experience at the University of Denver. I didn't coach any of those players now so that's a little different, but I know the staff really well. I know they're really good coaches, and I know their players, there are some Pac-12 players out there on that floor. So, I know they're going to be tough and it's going to be fun. It's going to be a good experience."
Middle Blocker Meegan Hart
On Her Early Success In Her Sixth Season
"It means a lot, I'm just happy to be here again, have another year that I didn't really expect, but today just shout out to Taylor. She made some great sets and really put us in great situations one-on-one. Then I tried to do my job and put it away."
Setter Taylor Simpson
On Leading The Offense
"Yeah, it's definitely super fun. This team makes me so comfortable. You know, it was my first start today and I feel like I was a little nervous before the game, but the second I stepped on the court, that all went away just because the people around me make me so comfortable and I have so much faith that my hitters are just going to put the ball away no matter what. So, it's really nice."