With just two regular season games left, the Colorado volleyball team is working to earn a spot in the NCAA tournament. Last weekend, the Buffaloes traveled to Washington for a double rematch against two top-25 NCAA teams, No. 21 Washington and No. 25 Washington State. Colorado (18-10 overall and 10-8 in Pac-12 play) defeated Washington (19-9 overall and 11-7 in Pac-12 play) on November 18, but then fell to Washington State (21-8 overall and 13). -5 in Pac-12 game) on November 20th.
Colorado saw some reverse results compared to their doubles game against the two Washington teams in October. Previously, the Buffs beat Washington State and lost to Washington. This time the results were reversed.
In the first game of the road trip, Colorado defeated the Huskies 3-0. The first set started strong for the Buffs with a 3-0 scoring run on senior libero Katie Lougeay’s starting serve. Late in the set, the Buffs had another 3-point scoring run to take a 20-14 lead. The Huskies started catching up inside the final serves, but the Buffs quickly finished them off and won the first set 25-21.
After a crucial win, the second set was more challenging for the Buffaloes. Neither team was able to gain a secure lead late into the set. The Huskies knocked out the buffs and took control, taking a 22-19 lead. Ultimately, it came down to the wire until Colorado tied the game 23-23. Graduate student Meegan Hart served a kill for a point and an ace of serve for the second point, ending the second set.
With two sets lost and one still to go, the Buffs were feeling confident. The Buffs had two 3-point scoring runs and three serving aces which gave them the lead. Colorado maintained a lead of at least six points at all times. Colorado knocked out the Huskies 25-20 and won the match.
“They’re a very good team and since we were playing on their home pitch I was really impressed with how consistent we were throughout the game,” said head coach Jesse Mahoney. “This was a huge win for our program and a huge win for our NCAA hopes again this year.”
Colorado saw some improvements compared to their previous match-up against the Huskies. The Buffs showed eight aces versus October’s three aces, with four sets instead of three. The Buffs hit 41-41 digs with the Huskies and just outperformed Washington at 41-40 kills. Hart led the buffs with blocks and aces, while junior Maya led Tabron with 19 kills.
Unfortunately, Colorado lost 3-1 to Washington State, which the Buffs had previously beaten 3-1. The first set got off to a rocky start for the Buffaloes. The Buffs played 15 serves until they tied 8-8. Colorado held a brief 15-13 lead until the Cougars went on a four-point run to change the score to 17-15. Colorado tried to gain control, but Washington State won the first set 25-20.
After being dominated in the first set, the Buffs looked to redeem themselves. The Cougars had an early lead, but it was minimal. The Buffs held an eight-point lead over Washington State and only maintained or expanded their control. The Buffs secured the second set 25-21.
Colorado started the match on the first serve but quickly handed it to Washington State. After several 3-point runs, the Cougars extended their lead over the Buffs to 12-5. The Buffs put up a four-point run in one last try, but the Cougars won the set 25-19.
The fourth set started strong for the Buffs, leveling point for point with the Cougars. Washington State had a 3-point scoring run inside the first 11 serves that knocked the Buffs out of their game and gave the Cougars the lead. It was the Cougars’ set from then on, and they knew it. Washington State dominated with three four-point runs to secure the set 25-11.
“This is traditionally one of the toughest road trips for us,” Mahoney said. “We played well on Friday and definitely didn’t react the way we would have liked against Washington State today, but they played very well. They’re a really big blocking team and we didn’t pass well enough to make them vulnerable. But we will react and we have two more games where we feel we can compete and win.
Washington State dominated the game physically and statistically. The Cougars had more kills, blocks, assists, and digs than the Buffaloes. Colorado managed to get close to the aces at 6-6, but it wasn’t enough to win.
Colorado has its last two games of the regular season next week. The first game will take place on Wednesday, November 23 at 1:00pm MST in Arizona. The final will be played at home against Utah on Friday, November 25 at 3pm MST.
Contact CU independent contributor Malaina Humphreys at [email protected]