So far, this season has brought the Colorado volleyball team a lot of great experiences, a lot of learning and a bunch more wins than it had in previous years.
Now, the Buffs get another new experience.
Today, the Buffs (14-14, 4-12 Pac-12) will embark on a lengthy road trip to wrap up their season. They actually left on Thursday, but beginning Friday will play four matches in eight days on the road, without coming home in between.
"I'm looking forward to it," head coach Liz Kritza said. "They're going to probably get sick of me. It's going to be 10 days, but we're going to do a couple other things, too."
With CU on fall break next week, there's no need to rush back. So, the Buffs will play Arizona in Tucson Friday and Arizona State in Phoenix on Sunday. Then, it's off to San Francisco, where they'll face Stanford on Wednesday. They'll spend Thanksgiving Day in Salt Lake City before facing the Utah Utes on Nov. 23 in the final match of the season.
In addition to the matches and a little sight-seeing, the Buffs are hoping this trip will provide a benefit to the future of the program.
"We have so many young players, we want to just test ourselves to the max," Kritza said. "This is where we prove how strong we are. How strong are we on the road? How strong are our team dynamics? How much can we stay together? How disciplined and how, almost professional-like we are with our recovery?"
In addition to finding out about her team's mental toughness, Kritza is hoping to see her team play with a sense of urgency. There is a slim chance the Buffs could reach the postseason, but it would likely require a 4-0 record on this road trip.
Considering they are currently 0-6 in Pac-12 road games, have a 1-8 record in the past nine matches overall and will pay a visit to No. 1 Stanford (which received all 60 first-place votes in the latest poll), it's not likely the Buffs will get that 4-0 mark. But, Kritza wants her team to play like they've got a shot anyway.
"Regardless of how things shake out ... the conversation is there, the intent is there," she said. "That's another big step for this program and I want to take it in this last road trip."
The Buffs are 0-17 in Pac-12 road matches since joining the conference in 2011. Overall, they have lost 22 straight conference road matches, dating back to Oct. 13, 2010, at Texas Tech. ... All-time, the Buffs are 0-4 against Arizona, 0-9 against Stanford, 1-3 against Arizona State and 4-4 against Utah. They defeated ASU and Utah earlier this season.