BOULDER — Taylor Simpson recorded 12 kills, but it wasn’t enough as No. 6 Stanford handed the University of Colorado volleyball team its first Pac-12 Conference home loss 3-0 (25-19, 25-15, 25-20) on Friday night at the Coors Event Center.
Prior to the match, CU had won the previous five conference home matches, including three against ranked opponents. The Buffs are now 15-8 overall, 7-6 in the Pac-12, while SU improved to 17-5 (10-3 Pac-12).
“Sustaining a high level of play throughout the sets is what the issue was tonight,” coach Liz Kritza said. “We made some good plays, and I saw a lot of high level plays, but there weren’t enough of them in sequence. This is a game of momentum, and when we play a team that does not give up very many points, it’s especially hard.”
The Buffs recorded 33 kills in the effort and hit .085 with 24 errors on 106 attacks. The Cardinal had 39 kills and 14 errors on 90 swings to hit .278.
Alexis Austin had five kills in the match and Nicole Edelman, Kerra Schroeder and Nikki Lindow each recorded four kills. Edelman handed out 25 assists in the match.
Defensively, the Buffs picked up 32 digs. Edelman had a team-high 10 digs and Schroeder added seven. Lindow and Austin led the Buffs at the net with three block assists each.
Carly Wopat and Inky Ajanaku each had 10 kills for SU. Wopat hit .600 with just one error on 15 attacks and Ajanaku recorded a .667 hitting percentage with two errors on 12 attacks.
“The match was tough for us because they were so good through the middle,” Kritza said. “Those two middles were hitting .600. We just could not take them out of [their] system enough tonight. They played really well.”
CU stuck with the Cardinal in the beginning of the first set. The game was tied 9-9 when SU recorded four straight points to go up 13-9. The Buffs battled with SU and got back within two points at 20-18, forcing the Cardinal to use a timeout. SU took the first three points out of the break before the Buffs sided out with a kill from Taylor Simpson (23-19). SU came back with the final two points to close the set 25-19.
The Cardinal took a 9-3 lead to start the second set and would never trail. The Buffs tried to climb back into the set, but weren’t able to keep pace with SU and fell 25-15, The Cardinal hit .458 in the set, while CU recorded .031 hitting efficiency.
The Buffs came out of the intermission and stormed to a 4-0 lead. After a quick SU timeout, the Buffs increased their lead to 10-3, causing the Cardinal to spend their final timeout of the set. SU crept back into the frame and was within four points at 14-10, at which point the Buffs decided to use a timeout. The Cardinal took the next four points to even the set at 14-14. The two teams kept battling, but ultimately, SU would take the set and the match 25-20.
“Our team is flexible,” Kritza said. “We have depth, we have players that can play multiple positions, we have players who can play either on the left or the right pin or in the middle. That’s been a strength for us, and it is something that has helped us pick up some of these signature wins that we have had this year. We will not go away from what is working for us, we are just going to do it better. We are going to clean it up and not give away as many points. We are going to make sure we are keeping pressure on the team, and that is something that is essential in playing any team. Every team that we play in the Pac-12 has the capacity and offensive firepower to be able to turn a set and change a run of points. For us, if we have them down, we have to keep them down. We have to stay aggressive against them.”
The Buffs will face No. 22 California (15-7, 8-5 Pac-12) on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. The match will be streamed live on the Pac-12 Digital Network.