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Middles Rally Colorado To Comeback Over Denver

Aug 27, 2022

BOULDER — Colorado women's volleyball completed a wild comeback against Denver in a full five sets (25-14, 21-25, 23-25, 25-23, 15-9) here Saturday evening to finish undefeated this weekend in the Buffs Invitational.
The Buffs (3-0) dominated the match with 23 blocks, holding Denver (0-3) to a .143 hitting percentage as both Alexia Kuehl and Meegan Hart picked up their first career double-doubles.
Hart, the tournament's Most Valuable Player, had 12 kills while hitting .480 and 11 blocks. Kuehl added 11 kills with 10 blocks, hitting .333. Hart finished the tournament with 40 kills hitting .543 with 18 total blocks while Kuehl had 22 total blocks, averaging 1.83 per set.
Lexi Hadrych racked up 20 kills, leading all players, with an incredible .341 hitting percentage. She also put together a solid defensive performance with 14 digs and four blocks, recording her first double-double as a Buff. Also for Colorado, Maya Tabron had 14 kills hitting .194.
The CU offense was led by Taylor Simpson with an impressive 47 assists, along with Brynna DeLuzio who stepped in alongside Sterling Parker to spark the comeback for Colorado. DeLuzio had 10 assists and three digs while Parker added five blocks in limited minutes.
The block was the difference in the match as CU put up 23 total, the most since Nov. 18, 2018 when Naghede Abu set the CU single game record with 17 block assists. CU only committed 19 errors in five sets, including zero in the fifth, while DU committed 33 leading to a .291 to .143 hitting percentage difference.
The Buffaloes will stay in Boulder next week awaiting their matchups against No.17-ranked Illinois on Saturday, September 3rd at 2:30 p.m and Iowa on Sunday, September 4th at 1:30 p.m.
SET ONE: Colorado came out of the gates fast with a 6-2 lead with half of its points coming from blocks. A three-point scoring run by the Buffs resulted in a 13-8 lead and a Denver timeout. At the break, CU was outhitting the Pioneers .400 to .000. Colorado led by eight points at 16-8 after racking up three more points. Kuehl's second kill of the match gave the Buffs a 21-12 lead later in the set. Parker and Hart combined for an emphatic block to give CU set point. Hart then finished things off with a floater over the net as Colorado took the set 25-14.
SET TWO: Both teams found themselves in a 4-4 tie early in the set. The Pioneers took a three-point lead at 10-7 following Hailey Green and Jordan Lockwood each picking up their fourth kills. Hadrych committed a service error which led Colorado to take its first timeout of the set while trailing 14-11. A service ace from Lockwood gave DU its biggest lead of the night at 18-13 after three unanswered points. The Buffaloes took their second and final timeout of the set while down 19-14. Shortly after the Pioneers led by seven, back-to-back blocks from Parker cut the CU deficit to just four at 21-17 forcing a Denver timeout. H. Green put Colorado's 4-0 run to a halt with her seventh total kill. The Buffs thought they had cut the Pioneers' lead to two, however, a DU coaches challenge reversed the call and gave Denver a 23-19 lead. Simpson's service error set up set point for the Pioneers. DU took the set 25-21 after the ball deflected off Poulter's head and over the net for the winning kill.
SET THREE: Kuehl's second kill of the set brought her total to six to go along with her four blocks. The kill tied things up at seven all. The tie continued to 11 after Hart reached double-digit kills with a hitting percentage of .769. Parker made her presence felt right away after subbing in with a kill making it 17-15 and putting an end to Denver's 4-0 scoring run. The Pioneers took a timeout after Colorado took the lead 19-18 on three unanswered points. After trailing again, CU tied the set at 21 all leading to a Denver timeout. Both teams kept trading points to a 23-23 tie. An attack error from Schneggenburger gave DU set point. The Pioneers won the set 25-23 after another Buffs attack error.
SET FOUR: After a 3-3 tie, Denver went on a 3-0 scoring run to take a 6-3 lead. Isabella Vasquez's second service ace of the night resulted in a Colorado timeout as the Pioneers led by five at 10-5. The Buffs responded with back-to-back blocks of their own leading Denver to take its first timeout while up 15-13. In crunch time, Hart picked up her 10th block to get her first ever double-double. CU closed within one point at 22-21 forcing a Denver timeout. Kuehl reached double-digit kills in a crucial point that tied it at 23 all. She then combined for a block with Schneggenburger to give the Buffs set point. Colorado evened up the match at two sets apiece following a block from Tabron. CU finished the set on a 4-0 scoring run.
SET FIVE: Hadrych's 18th kill of the match tied the set at six all. Her 19th kill gave the Buffs an 8-7 lead before both teams switched sides in the final set. Denver took a timeout while trailing 10-8 following a kill from Tabron bringing her total up to 14. A combined block from Kuehl and Schneggenburger gave the Buffs set point. Colorado secured the win and finished the set on a 5-0 scoring run after Colorado's 23rd block of the match.
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On The Match
"I'm obviously happy to win. That's a very good team, even though they struggled in their first two matches, that's kind of the team that I thought we would see. They played a 6-2 early and went to the 5-1, I think they're better in the 5-1 for sure. You know, when we win a first set easy, I get uneasy, because we tend to let down. I think we did that in the second set, and then it became a little bit of a dogfight. When you play a match and you hit .290 and the other team hits .140, you shouldn't go five (sets), right? We found ways to give them points in stretches. We've got to fix some things, but this match identified those things, I think this weekend identified some of those things. We'll get back to the gym on Monday and prepare for next week."
On Lexi Hadrych
"First of all, she's a great kid. We're excited to have her just in our program and in our culture. She works hard. She gets after it every day. She's trying to understand what we want to do and how we want to do things and she's really bought into that, which is fantastic. She's got a big arm. She has the biggest arm in the gym. When we can get her the ball in the right place and she can make the right decisions, she's going to score a lot. It's funny to look at the sheet and she had .340. I still feel like she could have been a little bit better, which means my perception is a little off because she was really good."
On Two Middles With Double-Doubles
"This weekend is probably the best middle play, statistically, I think I can remember. To be letting kills by middles is pretty impressive. And blocking-wise, not only did we have a lot of blocks, we had them at key moments. Lex had a couple back-to-back there that we really needed to win and stay alive. So it's fun. Like I said, you hit .290 and you hold the team to .140. it shouldn't feel like it was tonight. So we just have got to figure out some other things and clean up our game here and there. But we'll take the win."
On The Fifth Set
"Yeah, I told them at the end, the first set was as clean a set as we could play. I thought we were fantastic. And then we had a lot of muddy water in the middle. We have a picture of what we can do when we're dialed in and we've got to stay dialed in all the time."
Alexia Kuehl
On The Defensive Performance
"I think it's nice to have teammates who obviously know what they're doing. So obviously, I can't do it without a pin set up and that kind of stuff. I think once I get a couple, I just obviously want to get more. So I'm just trying to be more aggressive on it."
On Brynna's Impact
"When they come on, Brynna and Sterling, I can feel the energy change and shift and like she said Sterling's really big energy. Brynna's really big energy. And even just walking on the court, it changes a lot of attitudes. So it's nice."
On How This Weekend Prepared The Team For Next Week's Matchups
"I just think this weekend was a good weekend to build up chemistry on the team and kind of work out our connections, see what works and what doesn't and take that into next weekend."
Brynna DeLuzio
On Helping The Team Gain Momentum
"It's nice being paired with Sterling who brings a lot of energy to the team and obviously we saw that as soon as she stepped in. She gives us a big block out there which I think just kind of attributed to the energy we were able to bring and kind of get on a little run when we needed to. So it was good. It was nice."
On How This Weekend Prepared The Team For Next Week's Matchups
"I think this weekend we saw a lot of starting off slow but then being able to come back which normally we don't like to do, but it's nice to see that we can still come back and do the right things when we need to. But going into this next week, obviously we face a good Illinois and Iowa team. So we'll need to start with that rather than kind of tailored at the end."
Meegan Hart (MVP) (COLORADO)
Alexia Kuehl (COLORADO)
Taylor Simpson (COLORADO)
Tiffany Paalman (GREEN BAY)
Lorrin Poulter (DENVER)