Usually ducks and beavers wouldn’t stand a chance against a buffalo out in nature, but mascots don’t matter when it comes to volleyball. The University of Colorado women’s volleyball team went 1-1 this weekend on their home court, defeating the Oregon State Beavers on Friday and falling to the No. 23 Oregon Ducks on Saturday.
After two weeks on the road, the Buffs returned to Coors Events Center on Friday night to host OSU. Colorado won the match in four sets, 25-21, 18-25, 25-19 and 25-23. It was a hard-fought game from the beginning, and the Buffs were looking to bounce back after falling to No. 7 Washington last week.
CU was guided to victory by junior outside hitter Stephanie Shadley and redshirt junior Joslyn Hayes. Shadily and Hayes recorded 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Hayes’ two errors at the net on 29 total attacks provided her with an outstanding .379 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Alexa Smith also added to the Buffs’ 60 total kills with 11 of her own. Smith also led the team in digs with 19.
Both the Beavers and the Buffs recorded 20 or more attack errors, 75 or more digs and over 160 attacks each. Colorado was a bit sloppy on defense at the net, managing only six total team blocks compared to the Beavers’ 10.
Despite striding into Saturday night’s game with some confidence, CU lost to the Oregon Ducks in four sets 14-25, 25-21, 22-25 and 21-25. Colorado was easily outmatched in the first set, as Oregon handed Colorado their worst set-loss of the season.
The Buffs struggled severely at the net. The team recorded only nine kills and hit a dismal .118 percent. Colorado was unable to stop Oregon’s hard-hitting offense, digging only nine of 27 total inbound attacks.
CU was fired up in the second set. Smith went off on offense for the Buffs, recording seven kills in the set. Colorado’s seven point lead late in the game gave it some leeway as the team faltered on ball handling and service errors. CU also instilled a defensive game at the net, with three team blocks.
If there was a single area that Colorado was unable to control, it would be the Ducks’ blocks. Oregon tallied eight team blocks alone in the third set, virtually shutting down the Buffs offense and forcing them into a mentally frustrated state.
“They’re a good blocking team. They were more ahead of the play than we were and they saw what was coming. It was hard to work around that once we got into lulls,” Smith said after a frustratingly close 22-25 set loss.
The fourth set looked as though Colorado might force a fifth set. The Buffs pulled ahead early in the set, at one point extending their lead to five points. Despite the cushion, Oregon rallied from behind to tie the game at 21. After four straight, unanswered points from the Buffs, the Ducks secured the 21-25 set win and the match.
Smith ended her night with 14 kills on 24 attacks with only one error. Overall, the Buffs struggled defensively, digging only 63 balls and hindering the Oregon front-line with only five team blocks.
“We ran into some lulls offensively. We hit the ball into the block. They had 17 blocks, which is concerning that we couldn’t score from the middle or right side very well,” head coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I always felt that we were playing from behind.”
After going 1-1 this weekend, the Buffs are now 12-8 overall and 4-6 in Pac-12 play. CU, which was currently receiving votes, sitting just outside the AVCA Coaches Top-25, will likely fall in the rankings.
Oregon’s matchup was the first of four straight ranked matches that the Buffs will play in the upcoming two weeks. Colorado will hit the road again next week when they take on No. 15 UCLA on Friday, and No. 25 USC on Saturday. The Buffs will be home again in two weeks to challenge No. 14 Stanford.
“We’re going to play great teams every night. We’re aware of that,” said Mahoney. “We have to work on being ready to play and following our game plan, committing to it and being able to adjust out of that.”
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Olivia Butrymovich at firstname.lastname@example.org.