In a complete team effort, the University of Colorado Buffaloes volleyball team took down the Arizona State Sun Devils in a five-set thriller in Boulder Friday night. The win improved the Buffs record to 7-10 and added a win to their solid 7-3 record at the CU Events Center.
Early on, the Buffs looked a bit shaky. They lost the first set 25-13 with a poor defensive performance. Colorado picked themselves out of this hole in large part due to a season-best 13 aces led by junior setter Jenna Ewert with five and sophomore libero Katie Lougeay with three.
Colorado rebounded with a 25-16 set two win and in the third set, Lougeay served six straight that all led to CU points and gave the Buffs a 23-12 advantage. The Buffs would close and sit in the driver’s seat with a 2-1 set advantage. In both the second and third set, the Buffs hit a combined .412 while racking up 10 of their 13 aces and holding the Sun Devils to zero aces.
After back-to-back set wins, Colorado came down to Earth in the fourth set and looked more like they did in the first set. ASU got out to an 8-4 lead before head coach Jesse Mahoney called his first timeout. The timeout did not seem to do the Buffs any favors as they only scored 10 points the rest of the set while ASU capitalized on CU’s seven attacking errors and dismal .042 hitting percentage to bring the match level at two sets apiece.
The fifth and final set was a thriller as it was back-and-forth throughout with neither team able to stretch out a lead. CU eventually got the set to match point at 14-12 before ASU stormed back with two points in a row. Senior hitter Leah Clayton had one of her 13 kills to bring the Buffs to their second match point, and an ASU error finished off a Colorado win, 16-14.
Mahoney was quick to point out that winning a five-set match when almost all of the sets were blowouts is not the easiest way to win, but it is less difficult when the team’s serving was on point.
“We’re happy to get out of tonight with a win,” Mahoney said. “It’s rare to have a five-set match where you would think it was competitive, but most of the sets weren’t. Most of the sets were blowouts, and that had to do with serving and passing. When we passed, we won sets, and when we didn’t, we lost sets.”
It was an all-around performance from the Buffs, especially at the service line. Ewert was key to the win as she chipped in five aces and 22 assists to lead the team.
“I felt great at the line honestly, I think everybody felt on,” Ewert said. “We serve in here every single day, and we try to remind ourselves in games. We know what we’re doing, we know how to drive it there, and I think today that just kind of clicked for us…We play our best games when everyone is getting up there and getting a swing at it. Making the defenders on the other side have to dive for it.”
Along with Ewert, Lougeay and Clayton were all keys for the Buffs as the trio accounted for 32% of CU’s scoring. Freshman outside hitter Maya Tabron led CU with 13 digs and a team-high .368 hitting percentage. But overall, the high-quality serving and passing led the Buffs to the win.
The Buffs play the Sun Devils again on Sunday at noon MST to finish off their home schedule.