Last season, the CU women’s volleyball team entered the Pac-12, the most talented volleyball conference in the U.S., and worked harder than ever to compete against the country’s top-ranked teams.
Those teams didn’t go easy on the Buffs.
Teammates cheer as outside hitter, Kerra Schroeder, earns the Buffs a point by spiking the ball in a Sept. 13, 2011 match against Utah. (CU Independent File/Amy Leder)
With just one conference win in the 22-match season, often losing in straight sets, the Buffs had every reason to get discouraged. They struggled going into the season without Rosie Steinhaus, a leading senior during the 2011-12 season, and later on dealt with a brief injury from senior setter Alyssa Valentine that forced younger teammates to step up unexpectedly.
But through all the struggles, the Buffs persevered, and that one conference win against Washington State University on Nov. 18 was almost as rewarding as a winning season would have been.
Going into 2012-13 though, strong underclassmen could make that winning season a reality.
The Buffs’ freshman recruiting class, ranked No. 19 nationally, is stacked with talent. The three young standouts — Chelsey Keoho, Nicole Edelman and Alexis Austin — showed their strength last weekend at the Sam Houston State Invitational, during which the Buffs won all three of their matches against Texas Southern University, University of Louisiana and Sam Houston State University.
Keoho, a defensive specialist/libero, came off the bench to lead the Buffs in digs during the 3-2 win against Sam Houston State, and Edelman, a setter, played in all three matches as a top offensive threat. Setter Austin was named the overall tournament MVP after notching a career-best 17 kills over Sam Houston State; Edelman and sophomore Emily Alexis joined her on the all-tournament squad.
Redshirt sophomore Ana Pantovic, who played her collegiate debut against Texas Southern, is another new face to watch. Pantovic is a former member of the Serbian national team and is the tallest member on the CU squad. She recorded six kills, five digs and three block assists during the 3-0 win over TSU.
While these young talents will take the court by storm, the Buffs will also benefit from the strong leadership of seniors Michelle Miller and Kerra Schroeder. Miller is a reliable, versatile athlete who excels in both the setter and defensive specialist positions. Schroeder is the Buffs‘ strongest returning offensive player, leading the team with 431 kills on 1405 attempts throughout the season. She will serve her second season as team captain and aims to play professionally after graduation.
While teams like Stanford and California will always be tough opponents, the Buffs go into the 2012-13 season with confidence and a year’s experience in the Pac-12 under their belts. A combination of experienced seniors and a strong recruiting class means this year’s CU volleyball team won’t go down without a fight.
The Buffs take to the Coors Events Center for their first home competition this weekend as they host the Omni Hotels Colorado Volleyball Classic. CU’s first opponent will be Cornell University at 7 p.m. MST on Friday. On Saturday, CU takes on Northern Arizona University and Fresno State University at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.
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