The Buffs didn’t look like a team on a 15-game losing streak during Thursday night’s volleyball match.
Junior Kerra Schroeder led the Buffs offensively with 15 kills, while redshirt freshman Emily Alexis contributed nine.
“[Alexis] is mentally tough and can hit the snot out of the ball,” Schroeder said of her teammate.
Sophomore Nikki Lindow was also strong offensively with seven kills, while freshman Kelsey English and seniors Anicia Santos and Alyssa Valentine earned six points each. In addition, Valentine had a match-high .857 hitting percentage with an errorless seven attacks.
On the defensive end, sophomore Megan Beckwith recorded 19 digs. Junior Michelle Miller and Schroeder added 10 and nine digs, respectively.
The Buffs showed the Cardinal a strong effort from the start, going up 10-5 early in the first set and extending that lead to six at 15-9. Stanford then tried for a rally, and while Colorado held onto the lead for most of the set, the Cardinal were able to chip away and eventually tie the score at 21-21. The teams would be neck-in-neck for the remainder of the set, but Stanford came out on top, winning 25-23.
“We probably should’ve won that first set,” said CU head coach Liz Kritza. “When you have a team [like us] that hasn’t experienced that much success… it’s almost uncomfortable to be in the driver’s seat.”
In the second set, the Buffs again gained an early lead, taking five of the first six points. Stanford responded quickly, tying the score at 6-6. The teams battled closely for most of the set as the score was tied ten times.
The Buffs then started to build a lead at 17-14, and after a Stanford timeout, they widened that gap to 21-16. While the Cardinal almost caught CU at 23-22, the Buffs seemed determined not to fall the way they had in the first set. Sophomores Lindow and Beckwith recorded a kill and an ace to earn the 25-22 set victory for the Buffs.
The Cardinal were the ones to take the lead in the third set, going up 15-8. The Buffs took eight of the next 13 points to make the score 20-16, but Stanford would not let go of the lead. The Cardinal scored two to go up 22-16, and while the Buffs came close at 24-21, Stanford secured the set point and closed the frame with a 25-21 win.
Stanford gained a 10-1 advantage early in the fourth set, and while the Buffs closed that gap to 15-11, they failed to catch the Cardinal. As the Buffs’ energy began to lag, Stanford pulled further and further ahead, eventually taking the set 25-15 for the overall match victory.
Kritza said while the team did show improvement, they need to have confidence in order to win a match.
“We have to… be bold and brave enough to just run our system and make sure our attackers are being aggressive,” Kritza said. “If [the match] had gone into a fifth set, we would’ve been able to duke it out.”
Alexis also said the team has struggled with confidence during the season.
“The main thing we’ve been working on is to not be intimidated because it’s Stanford or Cal,” Alexis said.
With the loss, CU drops to 5-19 overall and 0-16 in conference play, while the Cardinal now stands at 18-4 overall and 12-4 in the Pac-12.
The Buffs have only one day to recover before taking on the No. 7 California Bears on Saturday. The match is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Coors Events Center in Boulder.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Caryn Maconi at Caryn.email@example.com.
Photo credit: CU Independent/Amy Leder