In their first of two meetings at the CU Events Center this weekend, the Washington Huskies outlasted the University of Colorado Buffaloes, the University of Colorado women’s volleyball team, in five sets. Despite a strong showing from senior outside hitter Leah Clayton that included 29 kills, the most since Taylor Simpson in 2014, the Buffaloes dropped to 4-3 while the Huskies improved to 7-2.
Dating back to last season, the Buffaloes have now lost three in a row to Washington. The Buffaloes will no doubt be anticipating their rematch with the Huskies on Sunday and will need to win to avoid another conference sweep.
“We were just talking about how there (aren’t) many things that they changed, they just did the same stuff,” said sophomore Elissa Alcantara. “We’re just going to come back and be better on our side, and play really disciplined.”
Through the first set, both teams shared points and swapped leads until a six-point run from Washington gave the Huskies a 13-10 advantage. The two teams stayed neck and neck through the entire set until the Buffs pulled away at the end with two big kills from graduate student middle blocker Rachel Fara to give the Buffs a 22-20 lead. Alcantara was able to stretch the lead to 23-21 before an ace from junior setter/libero Bryanna Deluzio put the Buffaloes up 24-21. A service error by Washington gave the Buffs the first set, 25-22.
Washington was able to prevail over Colorado in a second set that stayed very close throughout. Despite a late 22-19 CU lead, the Huskies fought back and tied the game at 22 and 23. Washington took the lead with 24 points until a Clayton kill once again tied the game. Colorado couldn’t keep up the momentum and lost the next two points to even the match at one set apiece.
The Buffs outlasted Washington in the third set despite the Huskies going on an early 5-0 run and gaining an 11-7 lead. The two teams traded points, but the Buffs were able to slowly chip at the Huskies’ lead until the Buffs went on a 4-0 run led by two Clayton kills and an ace from junior middle blocker Meegan Hart that gave the Buffs a 16-15 lead. A strong showing late enabled the Buffs to pull past the Huskies in the third set capped off with a few clutch kills by sophomore right side/middle blocker Sterling Parker and Alcantara. Parker and Alcantara each ended the night with 14 kills and but it was Fara’s kill that gave the buffs the win in the third set, 25-23.
The Huskies jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the fourth set and despite tremendous efforts, the Buffs were never able to cut the deficit enough to gain a lead. Errors proved to be a major difference as the Buffs had five serving errors and two attacking errors compared to the Huskies’ one attacking error. The set ended 25-20 on a CU net violation.
After the game, Clayton talked about the need to compete for the entire match.
“We started off a little bit slow in some of the sets and we need to make sure we come out ready to go and ready to fight,” Clayton said. “We need to be ready to dig the balls that are coming at us fast, and blocking. Limiting our errors is the biggest focus for us now, especially in crunch time.”
Neither team had much breathing room in the fifth set until a Colorado attacking error, followed by a net violation and a kill by Washington’s Madi Endsley, capped off a 4-0 run to put the Huskies ahead, 14-11. A quick rally and two kills by Clayton were not enough to bring Colorado back in the game as the Huskies got the final point and ended the match 15-13.
Next up, the Buffs will once again host the Huskies at the CU Events Center on Sunday at 3 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Chad Peterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.