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Colorado Sweeps No. 19 Illinois

Sep 3, 2022

BOULDER — Colorado women's volleyball took down Illinois in three sets (27-25, 25-18, 25-22) here Saturday afternoon to earn its third-ever ranked win over the Illini in the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge.
 
The Buffaloes (4-0) swept the 19th-ranked Fighting Illini (1-2) behind a strong offensive performance from Maya Tabron who totaled 13 kills with a .300 hitting percentage to pair with her eight digs and three blocks.
 
The offensive, ran by sophomore Taylor Simpson, dominated hitting .370 in the match as a team. Simpson dished out 40 total assists (13.33 per set) and had five hitters with a .300 hitting percentage or greater. Alexia Kuehl, Meegan Hart and Lexi Hadrych all had nine kills in the match while Kuehl and Hart both hit over .500.
 
On the defensive end, Colorado held Illinois to a .185 hitting percentage behind eight blocks, five of which came from Kuehl. Tabron and Brynna DeLuzio had a team-best eight digs, while libero Katie Lougeay had seven.
 
The Buffs committed just nine total attack errors in the match, including one in the second set while the team hit .520.
 
With the win, the Buffs are now 5-1 against the Illini in their last six matchups, three of which came as a ranked upset.
 
Colorado will look to keep its win streak going when it takes on the Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday, Sept. 4, at 1:30 p.m.
 
HOW IT HAPPENED:
SET ONE: Colorado trailed 5-4 before going on a three-point scoring run to take a 7-5 lead early in the match. The Illini responded with four unanswered points to take a two-point lead at 9-7. A review on an Illinois attack error overturned the call and led to a tie at 12 all. The tie continued all the way to 18-18 as the Buffs were outhitting the Illini .304 to .192. Kuehl's third kill of the match forced an Illinois timeout at 19-18. Shortly after the timeout, both teams found themselves in a tie once again at 21 all. At 25-25, Tabron's sixth kill gave CU set point. Colorado finished the set on a 3-0 scoring run capped off by an attack error from Swanson. The Buffs had a .371 hitting percentage compared to the Illini's .188 as CU took the set 27-25.
 
SET TWO: Both teams battled back-and-forth to an 8-8 tie throughout the beginning of the set. Colorado was on a three-point scoring run following Kuehl's seventh kill of the match while hitting .636. The kill forced an Illinois timeout as CU led 14-11. After the break, the Buffs went on another 3-0 run to go up seven points, their biggest lead of the afternoon. The Illini took a timeout while trailing 21-14. Colorado did not slow down offensively as Hart's fourth kill gave CU set point while still up seven. Tabron racked up her eighth kill to give the Buffs the set at 25-18.
 
SET THREE: Illinois came out with a lot of energy and worked its way to a 6-3 lead. After a three-point scoring run, the Illini held an 11-6 lead over the Buffs. Colorado was getting outhit by Illinois .444 to .167 and called a timeout while trailing by five. A 3-0 CU scoring run cut its deficit to just two at 13-11 following a kill from Hart. Terry's eighth kill of the match extended Illinois' lead to four. The Buffs called their second and final timeout of the set while down 18-14 after giving up three unanswered points. The Illini held a consistent four-point lead before Colorado came back to trail by just two again at 22-20. Illinois called its first timeout of the set while up 22-21. CU took the lead on a four-point scoring run following Tabron's 13th kill. The Illini took another timeout after the Buffs' scoring run. An Illinois attack error committed by Terry set up Colorado match point. Sterling Parker's first kill was the final point of the afternoon as CU won the set 25-22. The Buffs closed out the match on a six-point scoring run.
 
QUOTES
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On The First Ranked Win
"It was a lot of fun to watch. Illinois is obviously very talented and very physical. They had control of us a couple points and we had to battle back in a couple of sets, but I thought the team played our game plan. They switched from a 5-1 to a 6-2 and we adjusted to that really well. Offensively, Taylor Simpson is doing an amazing job. I mean, we hit .370 and I think that's with ok passing. She's putting the ball on time. We had a lot of moving parts, we had a lot of kids coming in and playing different roles which can be hard to do, but they have kind of taken to it and it's fun to watch."
 
On Brynna Switching With Lexi
"We're trying to win. So we're trying to put our players in positions to be successful. Brynna's super talented and she can do a lot of things. Getting her reintegrated into some passing in some defense where sometimes she's playing left back or we double subs or switched Taylor out and have her set for a rotation. She can do a lot of things and I thought she started off, not to pick on Brynna, she started off a little slow but by the end of the match she was in a really good rhythm and had some really nice play. She had a great dig there in that third set that was a momentum changer for us. We had a lot of really good performances today."
 
On What To Clean Up For Tomorrow
"There's not a ton of prep time and we don't want to jump and tire ourselves out. We already did that today a little bit. I think we can serve better. We had 11 errors and one ace, I think we can get a little bit better there. We have a really good serving team. We just have to be comfortable back there and not worry about the results and just go through the process a little bit. I told them in the huddle, tomorrow is a little bit of a trap match because we're feeling really good right now and Iowa has some talented, talented kids. If we don't respect anyone that we play, they're going to take it out on us. We're going to have a little bit of fun for a couple hours, and then we'll be right back at it for tomorrow."
 
Outside Hitter Maya Tabron
On Today's Match
"The whole team was just working together. We weren't passing that great in the beginning. We were in a bit of a rut but came back from that. Taylor just managed everything, she's given us great balls, and I think that we capitalized when we got them with just swinging high, swinging hard and kind of was able to break through their blocks."
 
On Tradition Of Winning Against Illinois
 "I mean, it's super fun just to see that kind of legacy building on. And of course, we want to keep it going into both of our senior years, I think it really helps our momentum as a program too. They are always ranked, and they are always a very good team. So, just being able to go out there and play against them and play hard. I mean, even if we did lose, I think that we'd still be happy with ourselves, but we won so we don't have to worry about that. It's a good morale booster, which I think is very important for us early in the season."
 
On Alexia Kuehl
"I think Lex's court presence this year is absolutely phenomenal. She is a monster for that. She has her hand over early, mostly every single time which is so huge for us. It's super easy to defend around her when she's doing that."
 
Setter Taylor Simpson
On Today's Match
"This match was pretty obvious early on that they were fronting Megan and Lex. So spreading out the offense was definitely the way to go for this match and it obviously paid off. Our middles still hit well, it was just the block scheme that they had. They were fronting them every time."
 
On Tradition Of Winning Against Illinois
 "It's obviously been a thing for the last couple of years and they are in no way just an easy team to face. I think especially a sweep at home is just extra sweet and a little cherry on top, so that's nice."