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The Buffs had a tough mountain to climb Sunday night as they faced the No. 2 University of Washington.
Colorado was coming off of a good home win over Washington State University on Friday night (25-17, 25-17, 29-17), which gave the Buffs a 2-3 record in the Pac-12 Conference and a 12-5 record overall.
But the team’s opponents on Sunday, the Washington Huskies, were 5-0 in conference play and undefeated overall as well. Going into the match against CU, the team had only dropped five sets in the entire season.
“They are definitely the best team I have seen so far, specifically because of balance,” said CU Head Coach Liz Kritza. “They have offensive weapons on both ends which allowed them to score at a higher pace.”
The Huskies won the first two sets easily, with the Buffs getting no leads and only tying the score three times.
Even after going down two sets, freshman outside hitter Alexis Austin said the Buffs were always fighting for each point.
“[We stayed motivated knowing] that we have nothing to lose; we just have to keep fighting and playing because there is no pressure on us,” Austin said. “The pressure is on them. It was up to us to keep fighting and playing, playing with our heart out.”
Austin said she felt a challenge from the beginning with the Huskies, who posted 12.5 blocks in the match.
“I had two big blockers blocking me, sometimes three,” Austin said. “It makes me work harder to find the point to score.”
Kritza said her team does well when the women are playing according to the game plan.
“When we were executing our game plan, we were within two,” Kritza said. “We were playing point for point with them. It’s those runs of points they got, it seems like, when we fell away from our game plan and most aggressive play on the floor. That’s a clear lesson, an important one for young players to get, is that in this league no one will give you anything.”
Washington took the lead early in the first set, going up 5-2. CU fought back and evened the score at 14-14, but the Huskies then took control and won the first set 25-17.
The second set started with a quick lead by the Huskies, and they built the gap to 10-2. The Buffs never got into contention, losing the second set 25-16.
After the break, CU came out ready to play. The Buffs fought back in the third set, tightening Washington’s lead from 12-6 to 18-16. The Buffs continued their fight, but it was not enough. Washington won the third set and match 25-22.
Next week, the Buffs take the court at home again. They have two scheduled matches, on Friday, Oct. 12 against Arizona State University at 7 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 14 against the University of Arizona at 5 p.m.
Kritza said the Buffs will have a tough week ahead of them preparing for their upcoming matches.
“We are going to prepare for a team that’s a different size,” Kritza said. “Arizona State is much improved from last year. They have got one of the top, young players in the league. We need to make sure our team is well prepared and ready to execute a game plan all the way through.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Jillian Arja at Jillian.email@example.com.