A season of hard work is finally coming together for the Buffs.
Teammates cheer as outside hitter, Kerra Schroeder, earns the Buffs a point by spiking the ball in a Sept. 13 match against Utah. The Buffs got their first Pac-12 victory against Washington State on Friday in five sets. (CU Independent File/Amy Leder)
On Friday at the Coors Events Center, the CU volleyball team recorded its first conference win of the season, taking down the Washington State Cougars 3-2 (21-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-20, 15-6).
“I couldn’t have asked for a better performance or a better show of heart,” said head coach Liz Kritza. “It was a really hard-fought, come-from-behind match where we finished it off with an exclamation point, and it’s well deserved after this season. It’s not always readily apparent, but [the players] have been working their tails off.”
The first two sets resembled other Pac-12 matches the Buffs have lost this season. Colorado and Washington State were neck-in-neck throughout most of the first set and were tied at 19-19, but the Cougars pulled ahead to take the set victory 25-21.
“They were scrappy, running the ball down and digging balls that were ridiculously off-court,” said junior Kerra Schroeder. “That just kept them going and gave them confidence.”
Washington State led for the entire second set, and though the Buffs never fell far behind. WSU took the win 25-22.
Unlike other home matches, this time, the Buffs refused to fall in three sets.
CU went up 10-5 in the third set, but the Cougars fought their way back to a 16-16 tie. The set remained close as the teams were still tied at 25-25. The Buffs picked up the intensity, though, and pair of kills by sophomore Nikki Lindow and Schroeder clinched the set in Colorado’s favor 27-25.
Colorado took an early 13-7 lead in the fourth set, but the Cougars didn’t let up easily, closing the gap to one point at 16-15. The Buffs were able to hold off their competition, however, to take the 25-20 set victory.
In the final set, the energy in Coors intensified. For the first time this season, the Buffs had a chance to take victory on their home court.
“I knew if we got to the fifth set, the win would be ours,” Kritza said.
The Buffs commanded the set, taking the lead immediately and never letting up. A pair of kills by redshirt freshman Emily Alexis and one by freshman Kelsey English gave the Buffs the 15-6 set win.
At last, victory belonged to the Buffs.
“We were down 2-0 in the beginning, but when we started rolling we didn’t stop,” Alexis said. “Everybody was just laughing on the court because we had a chance to win … we were not going to let this slip through our fingers.”
In addition to the team victory, several Buffs had impressive individual performances.
Schroeder got her name in the record books as she recorded her 1,000th career kill. Schroeder is only the 14th Buff in history to make that mark. She recorded 26 of Colorado’s 72 total kills.
Kritza said she was proud of the way Schroeder reacted to her record.
“The best thing is that she said, ‘Coach, it’s great, but the team and its success is what’s important to me,’” Krtiza said. “Our players pay attention to the right thing.”
Other standouts included sophomore Megan Beckwith, who led CU in digs with 18, and senior Alyssa Valentine, who earned a season-high 62 assists.
The Buffs take on No. 10 Washington at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Coors Events Center. It is the last home match of the season and also serves as senior night, honoring seniors Lydia Blaha, Anicia Santos, Alyssa Valentine and student assistant Richi Bigelow.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.