An all-around talented volleyball team, the University of Colorado Buffaloes, defeated the No. 11 Utah Utes in Boulder Friday night. Despite a winless record on the road, the Buffs took care of business at the CU Events Center in five sets. With the win, Colorado improved to 6-9 on the season.
But early on, the Buffs immediately appeared to be at a disadvantage. The Utes have some of the strongest arms in the nation, especially senior outside hitter Dani Drews. Utah’s electric energy, both on and off the court, was enough to hold the Buffs to 19 points, losing set one 19-25.
After no errors in the first set, the Buffs induced the Utes to commit three errors in the first three points of set two. With a 5-0 Colorado lead, Utah called a critical timeout to settle down. Apparently, a quick timeout was plenty to bring the Utes back to life. With the score within just a few points for the rest of the set, the Buffs eventually pulled away for a 25-23 victory, tying the match at one set apiece.
The third set started off on a completely different foot from the second. The Utes took a 6-1 lead after multiple back-to-back errors and held a solid lead throughout. A tough set for the Buffs, they were subject to many rallies that ultimately were awarded to Utah. In addition, the Utes had 4 aces after reception errors from the Buffs. Set three ultimately went to Utah by a score of 15-25.
Set four had a very promising start for the Buffs. With an 8-4 lead early on, a new team had emerged. Huge blocks and kills contributed to a contagious energy. As the set continued to progress, Utah slowly crept back before the Buffs ended the set with a kill and tied the match at two sets apiece, 25-22.
Set five was evenly matched throughout. Back and forth from the get-go, the Buffs used the majority of their lineup to ensure they’d hold the lead. Multiple kill attempts that traveled out of bounds for Utah helped unravel the Utes. After a strong final match, the Buffs proved victorious, 15-13.
Redshirt senior outside hitter Leah Clayton has been a huge energy source for the Buffs since transferring from East Tennessee State University. She has become a massive contributor to the team’s kill numbers and on Friday, tallied 22 kills for 25 points, a team-high in both categories.
“I think it’s really helpful because Leah especially has experience winning championships.” said junior libero Zoe Neverdowski. “She always comes out and she’s competing every single play.”
In combination with Clayton, sophomore right side Sterling Parker and sophomore outside hitter Elissa Alcantara combined for another 23 kills while redshirt freshman middle blocker Alexia Kuehl contributed seven critical blocks at the net.
The Buffs will look to sweep the Utes back in Salt Lake City on Sunday at 1 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Logan Standard at email@example.com.