- #16 Colorado (9-3, 1-1 Pac-12) defeats Arizona (9-5, 1-1 Pac-12) in five setter (25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 15-9)
No. 16 Colorado raced to a 2-0 start for the match, but faltered in the third and fourth sets to let Arizona back into the match. In the fifth set Colorado took charge, jumping to a 12-6 lead, only allowing the Wildcats to score three more points, ending the set and match 15-9.
Gabby Simpson became the first player in Colorado history to record a 20-20 match with 22 kill and 21 assists in those respective categories, she also hit for .486 with only three errors. Cierra Simpson picked up 17 digs, while Alexa Smith added 14 digs.
Wildcat Katarina Pilepic recorded 17 kills and five blocks on a .351 hitting percentage. Kendra Dahlke recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 14 kills and a career-high 17 digs. Setter Penina Snuka posted her eighth double-double of the season with 33 assists and 14 digs.
Courtesy of Colorado Athletics
BOULDER — It was a battle to the finish between Colorado and Arizona’s volleyball programs, but ultimately the 16th-ranked Buffaloes were able to come away with the victory, defeating the Wildcats 3-2 (25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 15-9) on Sunday afternoon at Coors Events Center, picking up their first Pac-12 win of the season in the process.
WHAT HAPPENED: Colorado improved to 9-3 overall (1-1 Pac-12) with a five-set win against Arizona (9-4, 1-1 Pac-12). Junior Gabby Simpsonled the team with 22 kills and hit .486 with three errors on 35 swings. She also handed out 21 assists to become the first Buff in CU history to record a 20-20 double-double with kills and assists. Simpson was the team’s top blocker as well, posting six total with one solo and five assists.
Joslyn Hayes, also reached double-digit kills for CU with 11 kills. Her hitting percentage was also very good at .450 with just two errors on 20 attacks. Cierra Simpson tied a match-high in digs with 17 and Alexa Smith picked up 14 digs.
SET 1: Arizona had a 13-10 lead midway through the first set when the Buffs strung together a 6-0 run to take a 16-13 advantage. The Wildcats tied the set back up at 17-17 when Hayes hammered a pair of kills to put the Buffs back up by a two (19-17). CU went on to finish the set easily 25-19.
SET 2: The Buffs jumped out to a 6-3 lead in set two, causing UA to take a timeout. The Wildcats took their second timeout of the set when CU took a 10-8 advantage. The frame was tied 19-19 when the Buffs used a 3-0 run to go up 22-19. The Wildcats took the next two points, but CU closed out the game with three of the next four points (25-22).
SET 3: CU fell behind to start the third set as UA took an 8-3 lead. The Buffs rallied back within one at 12-11, forcing the Wildcats to use a timeout. Again Arizona pulled ahead, this time using a 5-1 run for a 17-12 advantage, causing CU to take its final timeout of the frame. The Buffs brought the score within three at 22-19, which made UA call for a break. The break worked for the Wildcats as they went on to take the set 25-19.
SET 4: The Wildcats started the fourth set with a 10-6 lead, but the Buffs chipped away at it and got within two points at 14-12. Arizona responded with a three straight points (17-12), forcing CU to again use a timeout. The Buffs did their best to get back in the game, but fell 25-19.
SET 5: CU led 8-6 at the side change in the fifth set and increased the lead to 12-6, forcing UA to spend both of its timeouts during that time. It was all Buffs after that as they went on to take the set 15-9.
STANDOUT PERFORMER: Gabby Simpson had a match to remember as she recorded her second straight triple-double with 22 kills, 21 assists and 10 digs. Simpson also became the first Buff to record a 20-20 double-double with kills and assists. In the 30-plus years of Colorado volleyball, there have been 27 20-20 double-doubles, but they have all been kills and digs until Sunday afternoon. She has three triple-doubles in her career – in the course of CU history, there have been 30 triple-doubles.
TEAM STATISTICS: The Buffs hit .242 with 58 kills and 19 errors on 161 attacks in the win, while Arizona hit .175 with 59 kills and 29 errors on 171 attacks. CU recorded 55 assists to Arizona’s 52. The Wildcats had the slight edge on the Buffs in digs (68-64) and blocks (10.0-9.5).
NOTEABLE: The Buffs are now 9-3 on the season, 5-1 at home…Arizona is 9-5, 1-1 Pac-12 this season …The Buffs are 169-89 all-time when ranked in the poll…CU 6-0 when winning the first two sets this season…The all-time series is now tied between the two schools at 6-6…CU has taken the last four matches against the Wildcats in Boulder…CU has won the last five straight matches between the two schools and is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
NEXT UP: Colorado stays at home for another weekend of exciting Pac-12 play next weekend. On Friday, Sept. 30, the Buffs will host No. 21 Southern California for an 8 p.m. match. Then on Sunday, Oct. 2, CU will take on No. 9 UCLA. That match will start at 12 p.m.
Jesse Mahoney, head coach
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF WINNING TODAY – “I think it’s important this week to win at home because it’s so hard to win on the road. That’s why losing against Utah was as frustrating as it was. I think we did a nice job regrouping too. We had a couple days of practice and I felt we were ready to play this match. Arizona is a really good team so even after set three, we didn’t blow them out of the building. They came back and played well and we’re glad to get a win.”
ON THE SET THREE SLUMP – “I think sometimes set three is tough when you’re up 2-0. You take your foot off the gas every now and then. There’s a chess matching going on both sides with blocking schemes and who’s getting the ball. Arizona got ahead of us a little bit in both sets and it took us a while to catch up.”
ON FIXING ERRORS IN THE LATER SETS – “We always talk about managing our errors. There’s errors when we’re out of system and we’re facing a big double block. We need to manage that better. I think we’re doing a really nice job with the ball when we’re in system. For me it’s recognizing the situation and making sure we’re taking care of the ball.”
ON GABBY SIMPSON’S PERFORMANCE TODAY – “That’s very impressive. I do know that she played extremely well. She’s a dynamic attacker when we can get her the ball in the right place. I know she’s been nursing some injuries and is just starting to feel comfortable and healthy. Hopefully we can continue playing at that level. I think at one point I looked at the stat sheet and she was 9 for 10 and at 20 kills. In the fifth set especially down the set, she scored really well for us. It’s Impressive.”
Gabby Simpson, junior setter/hitter
ON SETS THREE AND FOUR- “I think we kind of needed to have an energy change. It was clear and on the court it was more obvious. But I’m pretty sure watching, it was obvious too that we all just needed to have a lot more energy than we did in the third and fourth set.”
ON FIXING HITTING ERRORS – “I would definitely agree [with Kiara]. With the last part, like who to set, and try to work on that more than then we did in the past few games.”
Kiara McKibben, senior setter
ON FIXING HITTING ERRORS – “More along just getting the ball to the hitters that are doing really well and feeding into the hot hitters, I would say. Also, really listening and communicating to the coaching staff who to set at which times and then it really cleans up the ball handling errors in my opinion.”
ON SHARING SETTING DUTIES WITH GABBY – “It definitely makes our team a lot more dynamic and we have a lot more options running a 6 – 2. Our pins do a tremendous job in general. There’s always constant communication between us. We have a really good connection, whether it’s setting or telling each other what we need to be doing.”
Courtesy of Arizona Athletics
TUCSON, Ariz. – Arizona volleyball took No. 16 Colorado to five sets, but were unable to pull off the road upset as the Buffaloes prevailed, 25-19, 25-22, 19-25, 19-25, 15-9.
“Tough loss for us today,” said Arizona head coach Dave Rubio. “We didn’t play very well; we weren’t very sharp. Back to the drawing board on Tuesday”
The Cats forced a fifth set with emphatic victories in the third and fourth sets after Colorado took the opening two sets. The teams were even at 6 apiece in the fifth before Colorado scored nine of the final 12 points of the match.
“I thought that both games 1 and 2 were winnable, and I think they knew that,” said Rubio. “It was nice to see us dig deep and start to play a little bit steadier to put ourselves in position to play in the fifth set.”
The Wildcats had 29 attack errors, holding them to just a .175 hitting percentage. Seven of the attack errors came in the decisive fifth set after UA had stolen all the momentum with victories in the third and fourth sets. Colorado, meanwhile, hit .242 in the match, due in part to Gabby Simpson (22 kills, .486 hitting) and Joslyn Hayes (11 kills, .450 hitting).
Katarina Pilepic had her best match in an Arizona uniform. The senior transfer led UA with 17 kills on .351 hitting and a team-high-tying five blocks.
Pilepic was one of three Wildcats with 10-or-more kills as Kendra Dahlke (14) andMcKenzie Jacobson (10) were also big parts of the Arizona offense. Jacobson’s 10 kills came on .304 hitting. The redshirt junior had five digs, five blocks and an ace to go along with her offensive numbers.
The Wildcats were solid defensively, outblocking the 16th-ranked Buffaloes 10-9.5 and outdigging them 68-64.
Kendra Dahlke led the team with a career-high 17 digs for her fourth double-double of the year. Penina Snuka picked up her eighth double-double of the season with 33 assists and 14 digs. Laura Larson had 15 digs for UA as well.
Arizona was off to a great start, leading the Buffaloes 12-7 before Colorado woke up. The Buffaloes buried Arizona with a 9-1 run on their way to a 25-19 first-set win.
The Wildcats hit just .167 in the second set, with seven attack errors the Achilles heel as the Cats dropped a closely-contested second set 25-22.
For the third straight set, the Wildcats started strong, opening up a five-point lead on the Buffaloes early on. Colorado fought back, but for the first time in the match, the Cats were resilient and finished strong, winning 25-19 in the third.
The Cats carried that momentum into the fourth as UA led wire-to-wire, forcing a fifth set with a 25-19 victory in the fourth.
Arizona and Colorado traded points in the early going in the fifth. But after the teams were tied at 6, Colorado broke away to win 15-9.
UP NEXT: Arizona hosts Oregon State (Friday) and Oregon (Saturday) at McKale Center this week as Pac-12 play continues.