Branen Berta's Colorado homecoming has ended before it truly began.
Earlier this week, CU's senior libero informed Buffaloes head coach Jesse Mahoney that she was leaving the team. Berta spent three seasons as part of the regular rotation at Iowa State before transferring to CU, in part to be closer to her hometown of Aurora.
Berta transferred at the semester break last year and spent the entire spring and preseason practicing with the Buffs. She had hoped to fill the libero role left vacant by 2016 senior Cierra Simpson, and actually shared that role with junior Gabby Carta-Samuels during the season's opening weekend. Despite playing in just 6 of 11 sets over three matches in Oklahoma last week, Berta still entered the week ranked fifth on the team with 19 digs.
"I don't think there's any bad feelings or anything like that. I think she just wasn't enjoying it and didn't have the passion for it anymore, and that's really it," Mahoney said. "She won the starting job. She was splitting time. She started last weekend and her and Gabby (Carta-Samuels) split time, but she came in and said she just didn't want to do it anymore.
"It was a surprise. She's a good kid. She wasn't unhappy. For whatever reason, she just felt like she has other things in life that are more a priority now."
Mahoney said Berta plans to remain in school at CU. She played in 73 matches over three seasons at Iowa State.
DeLuzio fitting in
Freshman setter Brynna DeLuzio continued her impressive start against Rice Saturday night, posting 32 assists in the Buffs' sweep. Partly due to the quick sweep, that actually was the lowest assist total DeLuzio has posted through five games, as she turned in three matches with at least 40 assists last week at Oklahoma before posting 35 earlier Saturday in a sweep of Wake Forest.
"She's doing a fantastic job," Mahoney said. "She's getting a lot of information from the bench and learning really fast. As a freshman I'm not sure I've had a setter assimilate information the way she has. Tonight, one of the goals is to have every one of our (attackers) have four attempts per set and I think we did that. That's hard to do as a setter, to consciously spread the ball out the way she is. On top of that, she's just a hard-working kid that gets after it all the time. She's been a little bit of a godsend for us this season."
The Buffs' home match against Abilene Christian Sunday morning (11 a.m.) will be the first meeting between the programs...In other action Saturday at the Omni Invitational, Rice topped Abilene Christian 3-1. On Friday, Rice defeated Wake Forest 3-0 while Wake Forest upended Abilene Christian 3-1.