Courtesy: Colorado Athletics
BOULDER, Colo. – With a new half to conference play upon them, the University of Colorado women’s volleyball team looks forward to this weekend against the Washington schools as an opportunity to put themselves in playoff competition.
Colorado enters the second half of conference play a game under .500 with a 4-6 record in the Pac-12 and a 12-9 overall record. The team hosts No.19-ranked Washington State (15-5, 6-4 Pac-12) Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the CU Events Center and close out homecoming weekend with No.21 Washington (13-7, 5-5 Pac-12) at noon on Sunday.
Alexa Smith continues to lead the team in kills with 286, more than 3.5 kills per set. She also leads the team with 19 aces. Right behind her Justine Spann has 237 kills at exactly three kills per set, while Naghede Abu has a dominating .387 hitting percentage.
On the defensive side of the ball Rachel Whipple has taken the lead for the team at 218 total digs. Danielle Price continues to pace the team with 79 total blocks. Naghede Abu is quickly catching up after missing the first half of non-conference play with 63 blocks. She has had 11 blocks the past two weekends, which if she continues to hit that mark she will eclipse the school record in blocks at 565.
Colorado will lean on its blocking game which is fourth in the conference at nearly 2.5 per set. The Buffs will also use their passing game to help boost their strong hitting percentage of .241 which is 60th in the nation.
SCOUT THE COUGARS: No.19 Washington State has been on fire since facing the Buffs last month, except for one slip up. The Cougars defeated No.21 Arizona in five and took care of Arizona State, but fell to Cal in four sets on the road. Washington State rebounded with home victories against USC and UCLA this past weekend for a pair of top-20 wins.
The largest concern for the Buffs is the blocking of the Cougars. WSU is 31st in the nation in blocks per set but are equally difficult on offense with the 43rd-best hitting percentage in the nation. Another area of concern is the opponent hitting percentage, an area the Cougars are second in the conference in.
Taylor Mims leads the team with nearly four kills per set. She is fifth in the conference in kills and attacks.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES: No.21 Washington has had a rough road since facing Colorado earlier this season. The team has wins against No. 21 Arizona in a sweep on the road and a sweep against Cal, but besides that they have lost five other matches since taking on the Buffs. The Huskies fell to No.25 Utah at home in four, were swept by Arizona State on the road, then had a trio of ranked teams in No.2 Stanford, No. 14 USC and No.20 UCLA, all coming in losses. All three of those past losses had the team hitting less than .200 with large numbers of attacking errors.
The Buffs biggest area of concern is the Huskies strong serving. Washington is ranked 35th in the nation in aces per set and lead the Pac-12. If Colorado can pass well the rest of the match should go well for the Buffs with Washington ranked next to last in the conference in opponent hitting percentage and digs. The Huskies are also next to last in the conference in assists, 10th in kills and ninth in hitting percentage.
Kara Bajema leads the team with 293 kills, nearly four per set. She is joined by Samantha Drechsel who has 231 kills this season. Defensively Avie Niece has 70 blocks this season to lead the team, while Lauren Sanders has 58.