The Colorado Buffaloes volleyball team took on the No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils on Friday at the Coors Events Center. The conference game ended in a close and tough loss for the Buffs, moving their record to 9-6 on the season.
In the first set, the Sun Devils jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, due to a few out-of-play balls by the Buffs’ offensive attack. But tremendous defense prevailed as the Buffs brought it back within only a few points. The teams found themselves in quite a back-and-forth during the middle of the set with four tie scores, but the Sun Devils stretched out to a 19-16 lead, forcing Colorado to take their second timeout.
It seemed that Arizona State might have run away with the first set until a big-time block by senior Neira Ortiz-Ruiz gave Colorado their 22nd point. The Buffaloes rallied to a score of 23-24. The rally coincided with an immediate timeout by ASU head coach Jason Watson. Unfortunately, a service error was just enough for Arizona State, and they took the first set, 25-23. The Sun Devil’s leaders were sophomore McKenzie Willey and sophomore BreElle Bailey. Wiley had five kills and Bailey had four. Colorado senior Taylor Simpson recorded seven kills in the set.
In set two, Arizona State’s offense came out fast and sharp, with momentum behind them, and took a 14-10 lead over Colorado. Strong attacks by Simpson and freshman middle blocker Anna Pfefferle were the Buffaloes’ strong suit, as their defense gave away some points throughout the set. Pfefferle had four kills and three blocks. A spark ignited mid-set, and the Buffaloes found themselves trailing by only two (17-19). Head coach Liz Kritza took the first time out at 17-20 with ASU leading. Pfefferle’s service streak kept Colorado alive up to 23 points, but eventually ASU came out on top (25-23). Arizona’s Macey Gardner, a freshman, recorded six kills.
After a block by junior Alexis Austin, the Buffaloes took charge in the third set and stampeded toward their first big lead of the day. Junior setter Nicole Edelman reached her 15th assist and the Buffs led 9-6. A pair of crucial kills by Arizona State’s Mercedes Binns brought the set back within two points. Colorado fought to extend their lead to five points, honing in on 20. A resilient Arizona State team fired back and brought the game a little closer at 18-21. The Sun Devils were forced to take their second time out after an impressive showing of Colorado’s attack game late in the set. The Buffaloes managed to come out on top, 25-18, forcing the match to a fourth set.
Coming off their highest attack percentage of the day, CU looked eager to take the fourth set. Service perfection by freshman Gabby Simpson, combined with powerful hitting by big sister Taylor Simpson, allowed Colorado to gain a comfortable early lead. ASU’s Willey recorded her 11th kill to bring the Sun Devils within three points, but ASU’s hitting success would not be enough for the athleticism and composure of this CU team. The Buffs took the fourth set, 25-15.
The underdogs looked level with this top-20 team, but after a highly competitive game, the Buffs missed the win by two points and the Sun Devils took the fifth and final set, 15-13.
Colorado volleyball will have a chance for redemption at home on Sunday, October 5 against the University of Arizona. The match begins at 2 p.m.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Elizabeth Vogel at Elizabeth.firstname.lastname@example.org.