Buffaloes Capture Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge Title
BOULDER — Colorado women's volleyball swept Iowa in the match (25-20, 25-16, 25-21) here Sunday afternoon to finish the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge without dropping a single set.
The Buffaloes (5-0) were dominant offensively hitting .306 and defensively holding Iowa (2-3) to .142 and moved to 5-0 all-time against the Hawkeyes.
CU had three players who racked up more kills than Iowa's leading scorer. Lexi Hadrych led all players in kills with 13 while hitting .435, while Maya Tabron had 11 kills and Meegan Hart had eight. Hart finished with an impressive hitting percentage of .538, her fourth match already hitting greater than .500.
Alexia Kuehl and Taylor Simpson both had good showings for the Buffs. Kuehl was a defensive force and was involved in every single one of the team's seven blocks. Simpson made a big impact in Colorado's win with three kills, one service ace, five digs and 33 assists. Simpson averaged more than 12 assists per set in the tournament.
The Buffs finished 2-0 in the challenge, taking the title based on sets lost compared to No.14 Washington who also went 2-0. Hadrych was named the tournament MVP and was joined by Hart and Simpson on the All-Tournament team.
Katie Lougeay averaged 5.67 digs per set in the sweep with a team-high 17 digs and also had two of the team's seven service aces.
The Buffs will be traveling to Fayetteville, Arkansas later in the week to compete in the Arkansas Invitational.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
SET ONE: Iowa trailed 6-4 before putting together a three-point scoring run to take a 7-6 lead. The Buffs responded quickly with a three-point scoring run of their own to take the lead again at 9-7. An unsuccessful challenge from Iowa gave Colorado a 13-11 advantage. Lougeay's service ace forced a Hawkeyes timeout while CU led 16-12. Following a 5-0 scoring run, the Buffs held an 18-12 lead. Tabron picked up her sixth kill to give Colorado set point. CU took the set 25-20 after Hadrych's fifth kill while hitting .625. The Buffs outhit Iowa .424 to .229 in the set.
SET TWO: Both teams found themselves in a close set as they traded points all the way to a 7-7 tie. Colorado led by three at 13-10 following an Iowa attack error. CU held a consistent three-point lead to 17-14 before Kuehl and Tabron combined for a block to extend the lead to four and force a Hawkeyes timeout. Shortly after the timeout, Kuehl's fourth kill and an Iowa attack error gave the Buffs a 22-16 advantage and led to another timeout from the Hawkeyes. Schmidt committed an attack error out of the break which set up a CU set point. Hadrych picked up her ninth kill of the match as the Buffs won the set 25-16. Colorado finished the set with five unanswered points. Heading into the third set, CU was outhitting Iowa .371 to .091.
SET THREE: The Hawkeyes came out fast in the set as they took a 4-1 lead following a service ace from Schmidt. The Buffs quickly turned things around and took a 7-5 lead after Brynna DeLuzio's back-to-back service aces. Iowa called a timeout in wake of Colorado's five-point scoring run. An insane back-and-forth rally resulted in a Hawkeyes kill to tie everything at 10 all. CU led 13-12 before scoring four unanswered points making it 17-12. Iowa called its second and final timeout of the set after Colorado's seventh service ace of the match. Hart rose up and picked up her eighth kill to put an end to the Hawkeyes 3-0 scoring run at 19-16. Another long rally resulted in another Iowa point forcing CU to take its first timeout of the set while up 20-17. A strong kill from Colorado's setter, Simpson, gave the Buffs set point. Hadrych capped off her impressive performance with her 13th kill as CU took down the Hawkeyes 25-21 in the final set.
MVP Lexi Hadrych – CU
Meegan Hart – CU
Taylor Simpson – CU
Ella May Powell – UW
Marin Grote – UW
Raina Terry – Ill
Mari Hinkle – Iowa
Head Coach Jesse Mahoney
On Winning Both Games This Weekend
"We talked about not having a letdown after yesterday because yesterday was exciting for us and a really big win. We wanted to go into this match, playing as hard and as focused as we did yesterday, and I really think we did that. Early on Alexia (Kuehl) started with two big blocks and I think that kind of set the tone for the day. In general, I thought we did a really nice job. Our offense is kind of cruising along and Taylor (Simpson) is doing a nice job moving the ball around. We need to clean some things up defensively and serving wise - we've let some teams hang around because we gave them some free points here and there. But in general, I thought we did a really nice job and we responded. At times when they pushed us, we found a way to respond and create some space at the end of sets. It's exciting for us and I'm happy to get a couple days off and then go on the road for the first time."
On Senior Libero Katie Lougeay
"I'm really happy for Katie because she's playing as well as I've ever seen her play and she's passing at a really high level. We're doing some different things defensively in terms of personnel and everyone's kind of rolling with it and when they have their opportunities, they're playing hard. Katie had a great weekend last weekend and a great weekend this weekend and we're looking forward to her continuing to improve as well."
On The Turnaround In Serving
"I hate every service error, that's what I'd say. But no, I think we served better today. We certainly hit the spots we needed to hit. Sav has come in, I think, in almost every match we played and sparked us from the serving line, which has been good to see, and then I think Brynna has done that as well. So again, it's a team effort. This might be the first match we've had more aces than errors, so if we continue to do that, that'll be good to see."
On Any Surprises
"I don't want to say anything has surprised us. It's nice to have a really veteran group. They just understand what we need to do. They understand how they need to take care of themselves away from the court and how they need to be focused when we're in the training atmosphere. When we talk about things tactically, everyone understands what we're doing. I think that's kind of gone a long way to our early success, super talented group, but also super mature, which is really cool. So, I'm not sure if anything has surprised me. Offensively, we're a little bit farther along than I thought we would be. We're putting up some really good numbers and our outside hitters are super efficient. In system, everyone's good and out of system, we've got to clean up the garbage sometimes, and they're doing a really nice job of that. I hate getting too many pats on the back but that's a place where we're doing well but it's going to be important for us to continue there."
Outside Hitter Lexi Hadrych
On Winning Tournament MVP And Making An Impact In Her First Year At Cu
I think it's really cool. I love the team aspect. Immediately when I came here I just felt like I was part of the team. The girls are really friendly. Taylor (Simpson)'s sets were amazing this whole entire tournament and she helped me so much. It's just a great team to be a part of."
On The First Road Trip Next Week
"It's going to be exciting to go somewhere else. Hopefully everything goes well. I'm just excited to travel."
Setter Taylor Simpson
On Averaging Over 12 Assists Per Set And Leading The Team To A 5-0 Start
"It obviously means a lot. We've had really good starts in the past seasons and it's nice to keep it going. I can give a lot of credit to our passers and also our hitters for putting the ball away. I think we've played very clean volleyball thus far. It's impossible to get these assists without all the other parts."
On The First Road Trip Next Week
"I think the first road trip - especially after being at home for two weekends - is definitely going to be a little bit of a change. But I think we're all excited to get to play somewhere new and play some new teams that we haven't really played against before. I think we're all excited and we just have to play the same volleyball that we've played here."
On Lexi Hadrych's Play
"Yeah, Lexi's awesome, obviously. Y'all can see she does a great job adjusting to the ball. Not every set is going to be perfect. Not every hit is going to be perfect. I think Lexi does a really good job being able to adjust to it, whether she has to tip it, roll it, keep it in, she is phenomenal at that. She knows when to take the big swings. She can see the gaps in the block and goes for it, which is awesome."
On Competing With Upperclassmen On The Floor
"I don't think we really have a big emphasis on upperclassmen versus lower classmen on this team. I think we're all best friends and I think we all see each other pretty equally. Both Brynna and Meegan are like five years older than me which is weird to some people but we're best friends on and off the court. I've never thought that age was going to be a problem whether it's their six years and I'm a sophomore. I think that's something that's super special about this program."