It was a match perhaps easy to look past against an opponent easy to ignore.
The Colorado Buffaloes volleyball team did neither Friday night, dispatching an outmatched Chicago State squad 3-0 at the Coors Events Center in the opening match of the Omni Hotels Invitational.
For the 18th-ranked Buffaloes, making certain the proper focus was brought to the floor was perhaps the biggest obstacle against a Chicago State program that has posted just one 10-win season since moving to the Division I ranks in 1988. Add to the equation two matches on Saturday, including a 7:30 p.m. tilt against Colorado State in the rivals' first regular-season battle since 2010, and a little lagging energy might have been explainable, if not excusable.
Instead, the Buffs made quick work of Chicago State, with head coach Jesse Mahoney able to use his bench liberally ahead of a tough stretch that also includes a quick turnaround before CU's Pac-12 Conference opener Wednesday at home against Utah.
"No matter who we're playing, we want to challenge ourselves, and the challenge was to play as good as we could for as long as we could, to minimize our errors and to play clean volleyball regardless of the opponent," Mahoney said. "We did a really nice job of that. We had five hitting errors in three sets. I thought defensively we did a nice job. It was good that we accomplished that even though we weren't stressed by the other team. We kept our focus."
The Buffs never trailed in Set 1, using nine consecutive points to turn an early 6-4 edge into an insurmountable 15-4 lead in an eventual 25-12 decision.
CU (6-2) cruised to a 25-10 win in Set 2 and broke a 7-7 tie early in Set 3 by outscoring the visiting Cougars 18-4 the rest of the way for a sweep-clinching 25-11 win.
The Buffs will take a streak of two consecutive sweeps into their match at 11 this morning against New Orleans.
"We talked about a lot of themes that we go over in our gym," junior Joslyn Hayes said. "Just all the basics, being disciplined in every aspect that we can possibly be. I think we did a really good job of that. Overall we stayed disciplined, and when we had trouble we communicated about it."
The stress-free sweep led to the Coors Events Center debuts for a number of CU newcomers, including freshmen Justine Spann, Taylor Joachim, Rachel Whipple, and Lillie Klemmer, in addition to transfer Marie Zimmerman. Mahoney gave many of those role players extended playing time, allowing extra rest for his regulars to open the demanding stretch in the schedule. Starters Stephanie Shadley and Anna Pfefferle, for instance, remained on the bench throughout the third set while Spann and Klemmer logged heavy court time.
Though Alexa Smith led CU with 10 kills, Spann contributed nine kills — the first kills of her career — and 10 digs after minimal playing time through the first seven matches. Klemmer finished with a team-high six blocks (also the first of her career) and Gabby Simpson turned in a solid line of nine kills, 19 assists, five digs and two blocks.
"I was a little nervous coming into the big stage," Spann said. "But I've always played on high-level teams, so it was pretty cool to get out there and play again."
Colorado 3, Chicago State 0
At Coors Events CenterChicago State (2-10) 12 10 11
Kills — Chicago State: Hadzisehovic 6, Eyring 5; CU: Smith 10, G. Simpson 9, Spann 9.
Blocks — Chicago State: Gruden 1, Eyring 1; CU: Klemmer 6, Hayes 4.
Assists — Chicago State: Taylor 12; CU: G. Simpson 19, McKibben 14.
Aces — Chicago State: Taylor 1; CU: Smith 3, Shadley 2.
Digs — Chicago State: Klavitter 14; CU: Spann 10, C. Simpson 10, Shadley 5, G. Simpson 5.