With only two regular season games remaining, Colorado’s volleyball team is working to secure a spot in the NCAA tournament. This past weekend, the Buffaloes traveled to Washington to have a double rematch against two top-25 NCAA teams, No. 21 Washington and No. 25 Washington State. Colorado (18-10 overall and 10-8 in Pac-12 play) defeated Washington (19-9 overall and 11-7 in the Pac-12) on Nov. 18 but then fell to Washington State (21-8 overall and 13-5 in Pac-12 play) on Nov. 20.
Colorado saw some inverted results compared to their double match-up against the two Washington teams back in October. Previously, the Buffs beat Washington State and lost to Washington. This time around, the results were flipped.
During the first game of the road trip, Colorado swept the Huskies 3-0. The first set started strong for the Buffs with a 3-0 scoring run because of senior libero Katie Lougeay’s starting serve. Late in the set, the Buffs had another 3-point scoring run taking their lead 20-14. The Huskies began to catch up within the final serves, but the Buffs quickly shut them down, winning the first set 25-21.
Following a decisive win, the second set was more challenging for the Buffaloes. Neither of the teams established a secure lead until late in the set. The Huskies shut down the Buffs and took control, gaining a lead of 22-19. Ultimately it came down to the wire until Colorado tied the game 23-23. Graduate student Meegan Hart served a kill for one point and a service ace for the second point, which closed out set two.
With two sets down and one to go, the Buffs were feeling confident. The Buffs had two 3-point scoring runs and three service aces, giving them the lead. Colorado maintained at least a six-point lead at all times. Colorado shut out the Huskies 25-20, winning the match.
“That’s a very good team and, with playing on their home floor, I was really impressed with how consistent we were throughout the match,” said Head Coach Jesse Mahoney. “This was a huge win for our program and a huge win for our NCAA hopes this year as well.”
Colorado saw some improvements compared to their previous match-up against the Huskies. The Buffs executed eight aces compared to October’s three aces, with four sets instead of three. The Buffs matched the Huskies for digs 41 to 41 and barely out-ranked Washington for kills 41 to 40. Hart led the Buffs in blocks and aces, while junior Maya Tabron led in kills with 19.
Unfortunately, Colorado lost 3-1 against Washington State, which the Buffs previously beat 3-1. Set one started rough for the Buffaloes. The Buffs played catch-up for 15 serves until they tied the score 8-8. Colorado held a brief lead of 15-13 until the Cougars went on a four-point scoring run, changing the score to 17-15. Colorado tried to gain control, but Washington State took set one 25-20.
After being dominated during the first set, the Buffs sought to redeem themselves. The Cougars had a lead early on, but it was minimal. The Buffs had an eight-point lead over Washington State, only maintaining or furthering their control. The Buffs secured set two 25-21.
Colorado started the match with the first serve but quickly turned it over to Washington State. After several 3-point scoring runs by the Cougars, they increased their lead over the Buffs 12-5. The Buffs put up a four-point scoring run in a final effort, but the Cougars took the set 25-19.
The fourth set started strong for the Buffs, matching point for point with the Cougars. Washington State had one 3-point scoring run within the first 11 serves, which through the Buffs off of their game and gave the Cougars the lead. From then on, it was the Cougars’ set, and they knew it. Washington State dominated with three four-point scoring runs and secured the set 25-11.
“This is traditionally one of the toughest road trips for us,” said Mahoney. “We played well Friday and definitely didn’t respond the way we would have liked today against Washington State, but they played very well. They’re a really big blocking team and we didn’t pass well enough to make them vulnerable. But we’ll respond and we have two more matches where we feel like we can compete and win.”
Washington State dominated the game physically and statistically. The Cougars had more kills, blocks, assists and digs than the Buffaloes. Colorado managed to match their ace count 6-6, but it was not enough to win.
Colorado has their final two regular season matches this coming week. The first match will be at Arizona Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 1 p.m. MST. The final match will be at home against Utah Friday, Nov. 25, at 3 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Malaina Humphreys at Malaina.Humphreys@colorado.edu.