The CU volleyball team is ending its home season on a bittersweet note.
Colorado fell in three sets to the No. 10 Washington Huskies on Saturday night at the Coors Events Center (25-18, 25-20, 25-20).
The Buffs held their own in all three sets, never falling behind by more than seven points.
“At this point in the season we have nothing to lose,” said sophomore Nikki Lindow, who led the Buffs offensively with 10 kills. “We were throwing everything we had at these girls.”
Sophomore Megan Beckwith led the Colorado defense with 21 digs, while sophomore Jessica Aschenbrenner and senior Alyssa Valentine added eight and seven, respectively.
Despite the loss, the Buffs played with determination as they honored their four graduating seniors.
The first senior honored was student assistant Richi Bigelow, a transfer from the University of Buffalo. Bigelow is a former player for the Buffs, and she currently helps with coaching duties.
“Richi is an important part of this program,” said head coach Liz Kritza. “It’s hard to transition from a player role to a coaching role, and she’s done a fantastic job with that.”
Lydia Blaha was recognized next. A sociology major, Blaha played as a freshman at Boise State and as a sophomore at St. Louis University before transferring to CU. She did not compete her junior year, but has established a leadership role at the middle blocker position this season.
“Lydia is one of the most competitive players I’ve ever met,” Krtiza said. “I’ve seen her blossom and grow, and I’m looking for great things from her.”
Middle blocker Anicia Santos was the third player honored. Santos transferred to Colorado from Cal Poly as a junior and immediately found her place as a team captain. A neuroscience major, Santos maintains a 3.5 GPA.
“She’s one of our most accomplished students,” Kritza said. “She has plans to change the world and I have no doubt that she will. One word that comes to mind to describe Anicia is ‘diligence.’”
Setter Alyssa Valentine was the final senior honored. Valentine, a neuroscience major who intends to work in sports medicine, transferred to CU from George Washington University her junior year. She has been a consistent force on the court during her two seasons as a Buff.
“Alyssa is one of the most hardworking players we’ve had come through here,” Kritza said. “She’s constantly pushing herself to get better. I think that she’s got a great future ahead of her, whether it’s in volleyball or sports medicine or whatever she chooses to do.”
Kritza said she remembers this year’s seniors for their leadership during a time of transition.
“These are the tough years when you build a program,” Kritza said. “Having strong character in people like the seniors we have now makes a difference … throughout the season there’s been no quit in this group, and I think that’s what has allowed us to progress.”
Though they didn’t pull out a win in their final home match, the seniors earned a victory Friday night at home against the Washington State Cougars.
“It was a great way to go out,” Blaha said. “It’s hard because the season was difficult … you get down to the end of it and you think you’re ready, and then the day comes and it’s tough. It’s those strong connections you have with your teammates, and suddenly you’re not spending four hours a day with them.”
The Buffs have just one match remaining in the season. They head to Salt Lake City over the break, taking on Utah at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.firstname.lastname@example.org.