A pair of replay review situations — one at a critical juncture that went Colorado's way, and another that just couldn't happen — proved critical in the Buffaloes' 3-2 defeat Sunday against defending NCAA women's volleyball national champion Stanford.
The first instance occurred late in the third set, with the teams tied at a set apiece. A kill by Alexa Smith put originally was ruled out of bounds but CU coach Jesse Mahoney used the second of his three challenges to get the call reversed. The ruling changed a 28-27 Stanford lead into a 28-27 edge for the Buffs, who promptly clinched the set to take a 2-1 set lead.
"(Smith) never misses that shot and I knew it was in," Mahoney said. "I was going to challenge that no matter what, because that was a pivotal point and we needed that point. In high-level matches we feel like every point is pivotal, so if we feel like the refs miss something and we have an opportunity to get that back, we're going to do it."
Mahoney, though, used his final challenge early in the fourth set and didn't have one on a contested point that pulled Stanford into a 23-23 tie. Had the point gone the other way, the Buffs would have held a 24-22 lead with two chances to close out the win.
"If I could have that one back, I would take it," Mahoney said. "All the other ones I was positive on."
After falling to 0-2 in the Pac-12, the 25th-ranked Buffs will try to bounce back at home later this week with matches Friday against Oregon State (8 p.m.) and Saturday against No. 8 Oregon (7 p.m.). CU split its two matches against OSU last year but was swept by the Ducks.
"The Oregon schools are both flying high this season, so we're going to have great matchups were both matches," Mahoney said. "I think we'll be better next week. I honestly believe we've gotten better each weekend out. We had a down night in Utah, but if we played like this in Utah we're in a good place. You have to hold on to things you're doing well and keep working on the things we're struggling with."
Sunday's attendance of 1,980 was the biggest so far this season at the Coors Events Center for a CU volleyball game. It was the largest home attendance since 2,446 witnessed the final nonconference match of the 2016 season against Colorado State...Stanford had lost only three sets this season — all of them against another top-10 team, Penn State — before dropping two against the Buffs.