After a 3-0 sweep to Oregon State University Friday night, the women’s volleyball team lost in four sets to the University of Oregon Ducks on Sunday afternoon (27-29, 21-25, 25-20, 25-13).
“Getting a three-set sweep put a little wind in our sails,” head coach Liz Kritza said after the game. “Tonight’s performance was not what we wanted in the win-loss column, but we have to take the positives from tonight … and keep building.”
The matchup on Sunday was crucial for each team’s conference ranking. Oregon entered the match ranked sixth, while Colorado’s 8-9 record had them at seventh in the Pac-12.
Close scores reflected the evenly matched skill of both teams. In the first set, 11 tied scores and eight lead changes ultimately led to a 29-27 loss for the Buffs.
“We simply cannot have lapses for two or three balls,” Kritza said about the close matchup. “It just doesn’t work at this level.”
Sophomore setter Nicole Edelman gave equal attention to all of her options on the net. Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Austin put up 10 kills and junior outside hitter Taylor Simpson contributed 12. Junior middle blocker Kelsey English, senior middle blocker Nikki Lindow and junior outside hitter Neira Ortiz Ruiz also served a presence on the attack line.
“I’ve been having a lot of ups and downs,” Austin said. “Today (the difference) was just focus.”
Senior outside hitter Kerra Schroeder quickly left the court after the first points of the game because of an issue with her recovering left knee. Senior outside hitter Emily Alexis initially substituted for Schroeder.
“We have a deep bench,” Kritza said about missing Schroeder. “I don’t think it was too noticeable, because we’re used to playing with different players in the lineup.”
The Ducks seemed to rely on two offensive options, Liz Brenner and Martenne Bettendorf. Each had over 10 kills in the first set.
“Bettendorf had a career night against us, which sometimes you can’t control,” Kritza said.
The blocking pair English and Simpson prompted an Oregon timeout, after three successful blocks in a row brought the Buffs to a 20-18 lead. The Buffs managed to stay at least one point ahead through the end of the set. After a 23-23 tie and a Colorado timeout, a potential kill by Simpson on the first set point landed out of bounds.
Oregon pulled ahead to a 25-24 lead, and a kill by Lindow kept Colorado alive. After three more tied scores, the Ducks ended the set ahead 29-27.
The Buffs entered the second set shaken up. After a 7-7 tie, the Ducks went on a 10-point run, bringing the score to 17-7 before Colorado called its first time out. The team’s overall hitting percentage was .219 for the set, with 13 overall errors in 68 attempts at the net.
“We’re disappointed in the result, but not in the effort,” Kritza said.
Senior defensive specialist Jessica Aschenbrenner began the Buff’s momentum swing with a service ace. Although Austin put up 11 kills and Simpson had 10 throughout the second set, the Buffs couldn’t catch up to the Ducks. The final score was 21-25.
“We were finally able to execute our game plan,” Kritza said. “There were some really high-level plays.”
Despite 11 tied scores to start off the third set, Colorado built a 20-15 lead before the Ducks’ first timeout. The Buffs claimed their first set of the game with a score of 25-20. Austin dealt the final kill, and Simpson recorded a double-double, with 18 kills and 11 digs.
Oregon had another 10-point run in the fourth set to lead 18-8 before the first stop in play. The Buffs only managed another five points before the Ducks hit 25, with four players recording negative hitting percentages.
Simpson knows that the last two games against Utah and USC are crucial when it comes to the Buffs’ standings going into the NCAA Championships.
“Knowing that we need to win these next few matches… we’ll push through and execute better than we did today,” Simpson said.
The Buffs will stay in town until Wednesday, Nov. 27 when they will face University of Utah in the second-to-last game of the regular season.
Contact CU Independent staff writer Jordyn Siemens at Jordyn.firstname.lastname@example.org.