It certainly was a scare, but fortunately for the Colorado volleyball team it was a brief one.
Early in the opening set of what eventually turned into a 3-0 sweep for the Buffaloes against No. 11 Washington Friday night at the Coors Events Center, setter Brynna DeLuzio was forced to the sideline after rolling her ankle.
This week DeLuzio was named the Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week for the third time this season, and she leads the league in total assists. While she was getting her ankle taped head coach Jesse Mahoney turned to redshirt freshman Emily DeMure, who came through with a season-high 13 assists to keep the Buffs afloat.
"I think it was a fairly mild sprain," Mahoney said. "If it was a tournament match she would've played all the way through I think. Tonight's match wasn't worth risking anything. We need her to be healthy to be as successful as we want to be."
The Buffs didn't miss a beat with DeMure, who transferred into the CU program this year after spending one season at Penn State.
Earlier this month DeMure endured a stretch where she did not play in six consecutive matches, and entering Friday's game she had posted just 22 assists all season. In addition to smoothly filling in at the setter spot, DeMure also finished with a season-best three digs — one more than she previously had recorded all season.
It also was the first time this season a CU player other than DeLuzio has reached double figures in assists.
"We had a little bit of a scare early with Brynna going down with an ankle, but Emily came in and I thought played fantastic," Mahoney said. "She set the ball well. She defended. She blocked well. Just a really clutch performance by her."
Friday's win completed an early-week home sweep for the Buffs, who also topped Washington State in three sets on Wednesday. The payoff for the Buffs is that the team will enjoy a couple days off and does not play again until a Thursday date at No. 18 UCLA. CU completes its final multi-date road trip of the regular season the following Saturday at No. 17 USC.
"We had a short week this week coming off the road," Mahoney said. "I think it will be good for our players. We'll have a couple days off and then a light day on Monday. The players are really doing a nice job because we're really not playing a ton of volleyball during the week. I know that sounds weird, but we're watching film and we're going through some no-jump practices. The players are doing a great job of implementing that into live play.
"I'm not sure we'll change a whole lot. We want to be peaking physically toward the end."
After unofficially being ranked at No. 26 this week as the top club among others receiving votes in the weekly national poll, the Buffs should move back into the top 25 next week after sweeping Washington State and the 11th-ranked Huskies.
That may not be the most enviable position for CU. Twice before this season — the weeks of Sept. 18 and Oct. 2 — the Buffs snuck into the rankings at No. 25. Both times the Buffs immediately dropped out after suffering losses.
Senior middle blocker Anna Pfefferle increased her career block total to 438. She needs four more to surpass Alison Koepke for second-place among the program's all-time leaders...Friday's win snapped CU's four-game losing streak against Washington. The Buffs improved to 4-12 all-time against the Huskies.