Buffaloes Prepped For Battle For The Golden Spike
BOULDER — Colorado women's volleyball team takes on Colorado State in the third home-and-home series in the Battle For The Golden Spike this Thursday and Friday.
The Buffaloes (7-1) head to Moby Arena in Fort Collins Thursday at 7 p.m. to take on the Rams (6-3), then the teams will reconvene in Boulder 24 hours later to decide who will take home the traveling Golden Spike trophy.
The Golden Spike, which was donated by Colorado volleyball supporter club members, is a vintage spike donated by the Comanche Crossing Museum in Strasburg, Colo., where the final spike was driven to connect the first continuous chain of train tracks from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Since the trophies beginning in 2019, the Buffaloes and Rams have split the series two matches each with CSU taking the trophy with a pair of wins in 2019 and CU earning a sweep in Moby last year to even the series and reclaim the trophy.
Colorado is coming off a 2-1 performance in the Arkansas Invitational. The team is 33rd in the NCAA in opponent hitting percentage at .151, mostly due to the Buffs being ranked sixth in the NCAA with 3.04 blocks per set. Colorado also has the 35th-best hitting percentage, led by Meegan Hart who is fourth in the NCAA with a .473 hitting percentage.
The Buffaloes are led by their two outsides, Lexi Hadrych and Maya Tabron. Hadrych has a team-best 97 kills with a .271 hitting percentage, while Tabron has 90 kills hitting .214. Hart has 76 kills from the middle.
Sophomore setter Taylor Simpson has the offense rolling with 10.07 assists per set and earned her first career double-double over the weekend. She is also tied for the team-lead in aces with six along with libero Katie Lougeay who has 99 digs this season. Alexia Kuehl is fourth in the NCAA in blocks per set and 15th in total blocks with 47 already this season. She is on record-setting pace through eight matches, needing to keep up an average of 5.9 blocks per match to break the season record of 177.
Colorado is 5-2 against CSU under Mahoney, including a 2-1 mark in Moby Arena. Mahoney was the first in-state coach to defeat CSU coach Tom Hilbert in Moby back in 2017, and has extra motivation returning to Fort Collins as he is one win away from his 100th win as the head coach of the Buffaloes.
Thursday's match will be on the Mountain West Network, while Friday's will be on the Pac-12 Network. Colorado will be giving away CU socks to the first 250 fans in attendance.
The Rams are 6-3 this season, and have had a similar schedule this young season as CU. The Rams started the first two weeks hosting, falling at home to Northern Colorado in four sets after taking down UNC and UC Santa Barbara in four. The team suffered a sweep to Arkansas before heading to Baylor and losing to them in three as well. CSU's latest win came against Arizona State in a five-set reverse sweep.
CSU is winning the hitting percentage battle against opponents this season despite only having 11.8 kills per set compared to 13 by opponents. Oddly, the Rams are losing the battle to opponents in kills per set, assists per set, digs per set and blocks per set. CSU has picked up wins by spreading out the ball with four individuals averaging 2.21 or greater in kills per set, led by Karina Leber with 91 kills and a .437 hitting percentage from the middle position. She is also tied for the team lead in blocks with 25. Kate Yoshimoto leads the team with 114 digs, averaging 3.45 per set.