On Friday afternoon, the University of Colorado volleyball team kept their dancing shoes on, defeating the University of Northern Colorado Bears in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. The Buffaloes defeated UNC in four sets, although they dropped the third set by a score of 26-24.
But this CU team had a comparative advantage: playing in the Pac-12. Head coach Liz Kritza’s team took down then-No.2 Washington and then No.19 UCLA during the regular season, which gave them the edge over a Northern Colorado team that spent their year in the Big Sky conference. With the win, Colorado advances to 20-13 on the season, while the Bears return to Greeley with a 22-11 record.
While the win was a combined team effort, senior outside hitter Taylor Simpson shined again with 21 kills. This was her ninth match this year where she recorded more than 20 kills in a game. But the game belonged to more than one Simpson. Taylors’ sister, sophomore libero Cierra became CU’s single-season digs record holder. Simpson has 502 digs this season, being the first Buff to record such a feat in one season.
Other Buffs had stellar games too, as junior setter Nicole Edelman surpassed 3,000 career assists and freshmen blocker Anna Pfefferle set the new freshmen blocks record with 135. The record surpassed Meghan Barkman, who is CU’s career blocks leader with 564 all-time.
In what was a game of runs, the Buffaloes jumped out to early leads and managed to stave off multiple 3-0 and 4-0 runs from Northern Colorado. During each winning set, CU went on runs of 5-1, 9-3, and 12-4 to build up a manageable lead against UNC. Up next for the Buffaloes is the second round of the tournament, which will no doubt prove more difficult than the opening matchup.
Colorado State is currently ranked 12th in the country, having gone 29-2 during the regular season. The Rams defeated Denver in three straight sets Friday, advancing to 13-1 at home this year. The Buffaloes are 7-15 all time in Moby.
The second round will be played on Dec. 6, at 4:30 p.m. in the Moby Arena in Fort Collins.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Andrew Haubner at firstname.lastname@example.org.