The Slovenian National Team overcame the Buffs in a four-set exhibition game Friday night at the Coors Events Center.
Slovenia started the first set strong, building an early lead while the Buffs struggled to find momentum. CU lost the set 25-13 with a .000 hitting percentage (25-13, 21-25, 25-17, 25-20). After seeing the Slovenians’ first-set force, freshman Kelsey English knew she had underestimated the team.
“I scouted them yesterday and they didn’t play that well,” English said. “So we stooped to their level, and we definitely can’t do that.”
Sophomore Nikki Lindow, who sat out the first set, said she could sense the sluggishness from the sideline.
“It seemed we were lacking a lot of energy,” Lindow said. “We were monotone and playing it safe.”
In the second set, though, the Buffs’ energy changed. Lindow took the arena by surprise by recording seven kills and hitting .875. Colorado recorded 12 kills total and only one error on 27 tries, taking the set 25-21.
Head coach Liz Kritza said Lindow, who had tested out several positions leading up to tonight’s game, was the difference-maker in the second set.
“Nikki showed that [middle blocker] was really her position, the spot where she’s going to be able to score points for us,” Kritza said. “She’s a physical player, she’s athletic… and she just needs to keep building her skills.”
With the match now tied at 1-1, Colorado started to crave a victory.
“It was a great feeling,” Lindow said. “They ran a up big score on us in the second set, and we were just showing them and ourselves what we could do.”
The third set didn’t go Colorado’s way, however. Slovenia took an early lead and never let it go, winning the set 25-17 and hitting .320 while holding the Buffs to .296. The Buffs looked like they could rally in the fourth set, taking an early 8-3 lead. But the Slovenians had momentum on their side, bringing the set to an 11-11 tie before eventually winning 25-20 to take the overall victory. In the final set, the Buffs had 10 kills and eight errors on 31 attacks compared to Slovenia’s 12 kills and six errors on 40 attacks. The loss brought CU’s record to 2-2.
Kritza said that while her team could’ve played better, the real purpose of the exhibition game was to test out team strategies and get younger players some experience on the court.
“I wish we had more [exhibitions] because you can try things you normally wouldn’t,” Kritza said. “It helps me go through a list of: ‘Yes, that will work’ or ‘No, don’t do that again.’”
The Buffs were led offensively by junior Kerra Schroeder and sophomore Nikki Lindow, who each recorded 11 kills. Redshirt freshman Emily Alexis also added eight kills. On the defensive end, Megan Beckwith led in digs with 16, while Schroeder added 11. English, Lindow and senior Anicia Santos contributed three blocks each.
The Buffs will have just one day to recover and hone their skills before taking on the Albany Great Danes on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Coors Events Center.
“We are expecting a strong match against a high level team,” Kritza said. “We have to play a lot better defense to keep pace with them.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.