There's something about facing Arizona that brings out the best in the Colorado volleyball team.
At this point in the season, though, the Buffaloes are well aware that they've got to be at their best regardless of the opponent.
On Saturday night at Coors Events Center, the Buffs swept past 19th-ranked Arizona, 25-14, 25-23, 25-19, to strengthen its chances of returning to the NCAA Tournament.
"They understood the significance, they understood what we had to do as a team," Buffs head coach Liz Kritza said of her players. "They came out and I could tell during warmups. Whatever it was, they came to play. I'm very proud of the team effort. It was a solid victory. They executed and did what we talked about."
CU (16-12) came into the weekend riding a three-game losing streak, but after knocking off No. 21 Arizona State on Thursday, it recorded its sixth win against a ranked opponent — a school record for one season — on Saturday.
"This weekend was huge, especially coming off the three losses," senior Alexis Austin said. "It was really great to come in, start off strong and really know the importance of this weekend and get the two Ws."
Austin recorded a match-high 15 kills to help get the win against the Wildcats (17-11), but she had plenty of help.
Gabby Simpson had 13 kills and Anna Pfefferle had eight kills and six blocks. CU dominated at the net, out-hitting Arizona .375 to .143 and out-blocking the Wildcats 18-6.
"Getting those big blocks right at the beginning of the first set is huge, because once you shut down some of their big hitters, they start trying to do different things," Pfefferle said. "The play at the net was really good tonight. We were covering up, taking good, aggressive swings, finding the seams and our blocking, I thought it had improved a lot, especially from the other night (against ASU)."
It wasn't much of a surprise to see the Buffs excel against Arizona, though. The Buffs have won four straight against Arizona and they've recorded sweeps in Arizona's last three trips to Boulder. During the last eight seasons, those are CU's only three sweeps against ranked opponents.
Regardless of the name on the other jerseys, CU needed this one. The Buffs came into the weekend ranked 69th in the RPI rankings, but they're sure to jump up after this weekend.
"I'm really proud of how this team did this weekend, because we did bolster our (NCAA Tournament) resume quite a bit," Kritza said.
Senior Nicole Edelman had 36 assists and 10 digs for the Buffs. ... Kalei Mau led Arizona with 12 kills. ... The Buffs have four matches left in the regular season, beginning Thursday at No. 6 Stanford.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.