A new season means a fresh start for the University of Colorado women’s volleyball team.
The crew of two returning starters and 14 newcomers swept the Furman Paladins in straight sets 25-22, 25-22, 25-19 in the team’s season opener.
Head coach Liz Kritza said she is very excited about the team’s new look but is aware that she has to have patience with her freshmen on the floor.
“As the younger players are learning our system and really learning to become comfortable playing at this level, I think we’ll really see some more improvement from them,” Kritza said.
If it was true that freshmen and transfers were feeling any discomfort, it didn’t show on the court.
Despite a shaky start to the first set, a strong defense helped the Buffs tie it up. From that point on, the team’s energy was high to close out the set 25-22.
Returning starter, sophomore outside hitter Kerra Schroeder’s six kills during the set didn’t hurt either. At the end of the night, Schroeder finished with a team-high 14 total kills.
“I came in as a freshman last year with a bunch of newcomers, so I think that my overall knowledge of doing that last year has helped this year with the freshmen,” Schroeder said. “You know just telling them, ‘You’re okay. I know you have nerves.’”
The Buffaloes took their first set energy into the second with a strong start. A long rally brought Furman closer at 6-5, and the Buffs seemed to slow their pace a bit in the closing minutes, but they finished out the set once again 25-22.
“I think it will just be a matter of time before they really get into the system and start to learn the nuances of how we play and how we train and are really able to make adjustments during the game,” Kritza said. “But I’m very pleased with the overall effort of the team tonight with all of our young players.”
Kritza also pointed out that sometimes confidence from the first two sets can be detrimental to the team in the final set, but in tonight’s game, the Buffs’ liveliness was really a driving factor.
A hot start with a kill by freshman middle blocker Nichole Lindow gave Colorado a 5-2 lead. Later, an ace by junior setter Alyssa Valentine widened the lead to 15-10. Even when the team was letting the ball drop, they were still hustling.
“I think everyone was just really fired up to play and just went after it and was just really agressive,” said junior setter Alyssa Valentine. “We have a whole new team. We all really just want to be here- be on the court – and we want to win.”
The team said it hopes to bring some of its confidence from tonight’s win to its game against Duke on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
“It’s a special group – not just because of its size – but their coming in to really establish a new era of Colorado volleyball,” Kritza said. “Tonight was a good step in that direction.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Marlee Horn at Marlee.firstname.lastname@example.org.