Following a 3-2 victory over California on Friday, the University of Colorado volleyball team looked to complete the sweep of the Golden Bears in Sunday’s matinee matchup at the CU Events Center. Despite California’s winless start to the 2021 campaign, CU head coach Jesse Mahoney said following Friday’s match that Cal’s young talent makes the team somewhat of a wildcard each time it steps on the court. After taking five sets to defeat the Golden Bears last match, Colorado needed just three to down California on Sunday.
“It’s rare to get two wins in this league in the same weekend,” Mahoney said following the victory. “It’s rare to get sweeps in this league, so (I’m) really proud of our team, how they came out with a lot of focus and a lot of fire to start the match. The challenge for us was to kind of keep that fire and that focus throughout the entire match, which we struggled with a little bit Friday night. They stepped up to that challenge.”
After back-to-back kills from the Golden Bears to begin the opening set, Colorado responded opening up an 8-3 edge following an ace from sophomore defensive specialist Katie Lougeay. Although a few errors from the Buffs allowed Cal to maintain striking distance in the first set, Colorado appeared to have cleaned up their play early in comparison to Friday’s match. Sophomore middle blocker Sterling Parker recorded CU’s 13th kill, as Colorado took the first set 25-17.
Errors on the side of California and a pair of Buffaloes’ blocks gave Colorado a 6-2 lead in the second set. Parker’s fifth kill opened up an 11-point CU edge, forcing a Cal timeout. Colorado dominated the second set creating a plethora of errors from the Golden Bears. Sophomore outside hitter Jill Schneggenburger’s kill gave Colorado a 25-11 win and a 2-0 set lead.
The third set went back and forth with neither team gaining a significant advantage early. CU took a 10-6 lead following an ace from junior defensive specialist Taylor Deprosse. Sophomore outside hitter Elissa Alcantara finished with a game-high 15 kills. The Tampa, Florida native gave Colorado a 13-7 lead following kill number 12.
“I was actually just trying to survive because there were a lot of junk balls,” Alcantara said on her 15-kill performance. “I think as an outside (hitter), since we get a lot of junk balls, we just have to survive and keep the game going and try and find shots that are open.”
Alcantara’s final kill put the match away. Colorado won the final set 25-14. Next up, the Buffs will head to Pullman for a pair of matches against the Cougars. Junior setter Jenna Ewert said Friday’s match against Cal will serve as a good lesson for the road trip later this week.
“I think what I’m going to take from it is on Friday any team can really put you in a tough spot especially in the Pac-12,” Ewert said. “Going into Washington State on Wednesday, they’re a really good team. They’ve played really well so far. Just keep that in mind, doesn’t matter who you’re playing, we need to make sure we show up and play as hard as we can, compete with the best of the best.”
CU’s next matchup against Washington State in Pullman is set to begin at 5 p.m. MST on Thursday.
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