Colorado volleyball coach Jesse Mahoney insists much of his team's bus ride to Fort Collins Saturday morning will be spent reviewing the scouting report on Albany.
Certainly the Buffaloes will be wise to get their facts straight regarding a program CU hasn't faced in six years. However, the main attraction on Saturday will be the 7 p.m. showdown against the No. 22-ranked Colorado State Rams, a rivalry battle that gives the 8-1 Buffs an opportunity to knock off a marquee opponent before embarking on Pac-12 Conference play.
"We play Albany first, so that's the scouting report they'll be reading on the bus," Mahoney said. "But Colorado State obviously the one everybody is talking about and thinking about. I think they're under-ranked. They've got wins over teams ahead of them in the top 25. They win 90 percent of their matches in that gym. They're going to have a huge crowd, they've got a ton of talent, and they're very well-coached. We're going to have to play very well to be competitive."
CSU's 9-1 start includes sweeps against then-No. 15 Florida State and a Michigan squad that was ranked 16th, and both of those squads remain ahead of the Rams in the national poll.
CU ended a seven-game losing streak against the Rams with a four-set win at home, but the Buffs' most recent visit to CSU in 2014 ended in a five-set loss in a memorable NCAA Tournament battle. The Buffs won the first two sets that day before the Rams stormed back, winning the fifth-set tiebreaker 16-14.
"Every match is really important, but Colorado State is a big rival for us," said junior Alexa Smith, a native of Colorado Springs. "I think it will be fun to play in that gym. They always have a ton of fans. It will be a fun atmosphere to play in for sure."
Freshman setter Brynna DeLuzio continued to impress during Friday's win against Xavier, finishing with a season-best 55 assists. It was her second consecutive 50-plus assist total, and her 15 digs also equaled the season-best total she produced in last week's win at Illinois.
"I think she takes information very well and goes and executes game plans," Mahoney said. "I think she's just steady Eddie. She just goes and gets the job done. She had a couple really nice blocks toward the end of Set 4 and she had a couple of nice defensive plays as well. She kind of does it all for us."
The Buffs play Albany at 11 a.m. Friday before taking on the Rams at 7 p.m. CU has played Albany only twice, splitting a pair of matches early in the 2011-12 season...The win against Xavier marked the first time this season CU has had four players with a double-digit total for digs — Gabby Carta-Samuels (16), DeLuzio (15), Smith (15), and Frankie Shebby (10)...The Rams swept Albany on Friday night.