Colorado women’s volleyball spent 2016 suffering and stumbling through a schedule filled with some of the most difficult teams in the country. Last weekend was no exception. The Buffs fell to both Washington and Washington State in Boulder in their final home matches of the regular season.
Colorado lost to the No. 8 Huskies on Friday night in four sets, 23-25, 13-25, 25-21 and 15-25. CU’s newest go-to on offense, sophomore outside hitter Alexa Smith, recorded 14 kills and nine digs during the loss.
The Buffs, who were playing without junior setter and right-side hitter Gabby Simpson, fell short of the Huskies’ 65 kills, managing just 47 with 20 errors. With Simpson sidelined, junior setter Marie Zimmerman took on the huge task of running the Colorado offense alongside senior setter Kiara McKibben.
Washington’s dominance at the net spelled trouble for the CU defense. Colorado recorded 59 team digs, 18 of which went to senior libero Cierra Simpson. Sadly, the Buffs’ block, which had been finding its groove in recent weeks, was unable to shutdown the Huskies front line and had only four team blocks.
After a dismal second set, Colorado rallied in the third set to hand Washington a significant blow and prove their ability to compete. Despite the effort, the Huskies prevailed in the fourth set, forcing Colorado’s late effort to come to an abrupt halt.
Colorado looked to turn the tables at Sunday’s match against Washington State. The Lady Buffaloes were not as successful with the Cougars as the football team was on Saturday. Wazzu put a damper on the Buffs’ final home game of the season, defeating the Buffs in three straight sets, 23-25, 20-25 and 14-25.
Smith once again led the team in kills with eight. Junior outside hitter Stephanie Shadley also managed seven kills for the team along with 10 digs.
Colorado’s defense in the backcourt thrived despite the massive tirade of kills from the Cougars. Wazzu managed the same number of attacks as the Buffs’, 98, but was able to convert 41 of them into kills. Colorado was only successful on 28 attempts. CU was able to dig 38 balls to Washington State’s 36.
Defense at the net suffered once again. The team was only able to put up five team blocks. The Cougars 13 team blocks helped to shutdown the Buffs offense at the net adding to the attack errors.
Sunday’s game in Boulder also marked the final home games for three seniors. Colorado fans said goodbye to Cierra Simpson, Kiara McKibben and senior middle blocker Katelyn Cuff before the match.
Simpson currently sits with 1,815 digs in her career as a Buff, a number that is likely to grow with two matches remaining. McKibben has recorded 654 assists as a Buff, along with 209 digs. Cuff currently has managed 319 kills on 706 total attacks, giving her an all-time hitting percentage of .313.
The Buffs’ have fallen to an overall record of 13-15 and a record of 5-13 in the Pac-12. With a week left in the regular season, the Pac-12 is seeing five teams in the top 25, and Washington State receiving votes in the AVCA coaches poll.
Colorado will close out their regular season on the road. The Buffs’ will travel to Tempe to take on Arizona State on Wednesday, Nov. 23 at 8 p.m. Colorado will finish their season at Utah on Friday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Olivia Butrymovich at email@example.com.