After an impressive 7-0 start and reaching No. 25 in the NCAA DI Volleyball Rankings, the in-state rival Colorado State Rams visited Boulder to attempt to take the first game of the double-header.
The volleyball rivalry, nicknamed the Golden Spike Showdown, was created in 2019. Due to COVID-19, the match was not played in 2020. The Rams lead 1-0 after a 3-2 win in 2019.
Fans were prominent Thursday night at the CU Events Center, especially after the pandemic made it nearly impossible for them to attend. The Buffs were ready to prove that they are top-25 material.
It was immediately apparent in the first set that the Rams had done their research. The Buffs looked overwhelmed and taken aback by Colorado State’s readiness and determination. Although CU had strong hits, they couldn’t seem to sneak through the Rams defense. Despite a near comeback, Colorado State took set one 22-25.
“It was a high level match on both sides,” said head coach Jesse Mahoney. “Pretty high in errors in the first set, I’m not sure exactly what that is but we only got one kill out of our left sides in that first set and that was really the difference there.”
Set two was a back-and-forth affair. But once graduate student and outside hitter Leah Clayton was given opportunities, she lit up. Some miscommunication gifted the Rams a few points, but the Buffs energy was unstoppable. Colorado took set two 25-18.
The energy continued into set three. Every point ignited massive enthusiasm from both the crowd and the players. The Buffs held a slight lead throughout before breaking away for good to a 25-19 set three win.
Set four started off in the direction of the Rams, but the Buffs took a slight lead after a 4-0 scoring run. As the set continued, the Buffs and the Rams were neck and neck. Ultimately, the Buffs prevailed to a 25-20 set win, and a 3-1 match victory.
Blocks were big contributors for the Buffs on Thursday night. Colorado had a total of 14 blocks from six different players.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Alexia Kuehl was a massive playmaker against the Rams. Kuehl had 12 kills with seven blocks. Redshirt senior middle blocker Meegan Hart contributed 11 kills and six blocks of her own.
The Buffaloes will travel to Fort Collins to face the Rams for the second game of the Golden Spike Showdown on Saturday at 1 PM M.T.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Logan Standard at email@example.com.