The University of Colorado women’s volleyball team faced the Campbell Fighting Camels in the final match of the Colorado Classic on Saturday. CU dominated UMBC earlier in the day, sweeping the Retrievers 3-0, and the team kept it going against Campbell. The Buffs won again in three sets to finish the tournament undefeated.
Senior outside hitter Justine Spann was key for the Buffaloes throughout the tournament, recording 21 and 18 kills against Oakland and UMBC respectively. Multiple players starred for the Buffs in the first two games of the tournament in addition to Spann. As a team, Colorado broke four school records in the 3-1 win over Oakland on Friday night; including freshman middle blocker Sterling Parker, who became the third player in CU history to record seven kills on seven swings.
“I thought it was a good match, especially after playing three (matches) on the weekend,” said CU head coach Jesse Mahoney. “I thought our team did a really nice job to come back mentally and physically and start that match out on a really high level. We sustained that throughout the match.”
The Buffs’ final match against Campbell was a tightly contested match throughout the early part of the first set. Colorado jumped out to a 9-7 lead with two straight kills from Spann and, after a couple of service errors and errant hits from the Fighting Camels, the Buffs advanced to a double-digit lead. Colorado took the first set easily 25-10.
In the second set, two straight kills from Parker gave the Buffs a 7-3 lead. A kill from Spann gave CU a 23-13 lead late and Colorado took the second set 25-14.
Campbell responded in the third set, keeping the match tightly contested through the first 10 points. Two straight kills from Spann in the first set gave the Buffaloes a 9-6 lead. Parker, Spann and freshman outside hitter Jill Schneggenberger kept the Buffs on top through a majority of the third set. The Fighting Camels came back and took a 19-18 lead late in the third set but Colorado responded with two straight kills from Spann. CU picked up a few more points and a kill from Parker gave the Buffs the third set to complete the sweep.
Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Meegan Hart was named the MVP of the tournament with a hitting percentage above .600 throughout the three games.
Hart, a transfer from Iowa State, talked about delivering a wonderful performance not only against Campbell but UMBC and Oakland as well just 10 games into her Colorado career.
“It means a lot,” Hart said. “It’s really special to me. My teammates have been amazing, (I) obviously couldn’t have done it without them. Their passing was great.”
Saturday’s two matches were a significant improvement compared to the first several games.
“We haven’t passed that well all season,” said sophomore setter Jenna Ewert. “I don’t think I’ve ever played in a game where we’ve passed that well, so that was a new feeling for me. It was definitely a lot of fun to have that much freedom. (There) was a different type of connection with the hitters. You all have the confidence and … you kind of get into a groove. That’s a special thing that you don’t always get to experience.”
Mahoney believes the Buffs can use their success in the Colorado Classic as a building block headed into conference play. CU faces Utah to begin conference play, who began the year with wins over No. 7 Kentucky and No. 23 Cal Poly.
“They (Utah) have one of the best players in our conference in my opinion in Danny Barton,” Mahoney said. “They redshirted one of the best middles in our conference last year due to injury, (and) she’s back. I think that makes them better. They have a top 10 win under their belt this season, so they’re really good.”
The Buffs will Travel to Salt Lake City next week for a Wednesday night matchup against the Utes. The game starts at 7 p.m. MST.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Adam Bender at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @adamwbender.