BOULDER — Junior outside hitter Taylor Simpson recorded a career-high 23 kills as the University of Colorado volleyball team defeated Washington State 3-1 to win its third straight Pac-12 Conference match this season.
The Buffs won 25-17, 25-21, 25-27, 25-19 to improve to 11-3 overall, 3-1 in the Pac-12. WSU is now 14-3, 1-3 in the Pac-12. This is the first time since 2006 that the Buffs have won three conference matches in a row.
“It was definitely a hard-fought match,” Simpson said. “They definitely put their hands on any hit that I had, but we had some good sets and were doing really well passing-wise. I thought it was a good match.”
Simpson hit .333 in the match with seven errors on 48 attacks. She also added seven digs and four blocks assists. Nikki Lindow had an error-free hitting night with 10 kills on 19 swings for a match-high .526 hitting percentage. At the net she led the Buffs with five block assists.
CU hit .278 in the win with 61 kills. Nicole Edelman had 45 assists and added six kills on 13 errorless attacks to hit .462. She also had a double-double with 10 digs. Alexis Austin and Kerra Schroeder each recorded seven kills for CU and Kelsey English tacked on another six in the victory. Cierra Simpson led CU in the back row with 14 of CU’s 49 digs.
Colorado out-blocked the Cougars 8.0-4.0. Besides blocks from Lindow and Taylor Simpson, English and Schroeder each put up three block assists and Austin added the final one for CU.
“I am very proud of them (the team),” coach Liz Kritza said. “We talked in the locker room before the match about this being more important than the match that we played on Friday. This is the follow-up match, and it’s the one that lets us show that it’s not just a team that can pull an upset and then dip down. It’s part of establishing our identity within this league and across the country nationally in volleyball.”
The Buffs held WSU to a .200 hitting efficiency with 54 kills and 26 errors on 140 attacks. The Cougars were led by Kyra Holt’s 19 kills and Jaicee Harris added 10 kills.
“It’s a victory and we took it,” Kritza said “It wasn’t pretty all the time. I can look at every single player on the roster, and they’re celebrating the fact that it was a victory, but they also know that there’s another side to this. We want continual improvement. We have to get back in the gym; we’re going back on the road for two weeks. We have four tough road matches, and the expectations are getting higher and higher within our group. That’s a very good thing. I always love that they know that I hate losing and love winning, but I want to put ourselves in a position to sustain these victories. This can be a really special season for us.”
The Buffs took a 13-7 lead in the first set before WSU called its first timeout. After the break, the Cougars got within two points (14-12) to force the Buffs to call a timeout of their own. The quick intermission worked well for CU as the team recorded an 8-3 run to go back up 22-15. From there the Buffs were able to finish the set with three of the next five points. Taylor Simpson had a hot hand in the frame, hitting .818 with nine kills and no errors on 11 swings. The Buffs hit .517 as a team with 17 kills and only two errors on 29 swings.
WSU led for the first part of the second set, taking an 11-6 lead. The Buffs started to put a stop to the Cougar’s attack and got back within a point at 13-12. CU continued its comeback and evened the score at 15-15. The Buffs went ahead of WSU with a 4-2 run (19-18) and from that point on the Buffs would never trail as they finished 25-21.
CU forced the Cougars to use a timeout after taking a 9-4 advantage to start the third set. Out of the break, WSU recorded a 5-3 run (12-9) and this time the Buffs decided to spend a timeout. CU retained the lead and went up 19-15, but the Cougars got back within a point at 21-20, so the Buffs used their final timeout of the set. The two teams would battle it out to the end and needed extra points, and in the end it was WSU with the 27-25 win.
The fourth set was a close fought one. The Buffs had a 14-10 lead before WSU took three straight points to get within a point at 14-13. After a quick CU timeout, the Buffs used a 6-3 run to take a 20-16 advantage. The Cougars tried to slow CU down with another timeout, but the Buffs were determined to finish the match and won the set 25-19.
The Buffs will head to northern California next week for a pair of matches. CU will face California on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8:30 p.m. MT. The Buffs will take on No. 7 Stanford on Saturday, Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. MT. Both matches will be televised regionally on the Pac-12 Network.