It took three sets separated by three or less points Sunday afternoon, but the Colorado volleyball team fell to No. 2-ranked Stanford at home despite hitting a season-best .358.
The Buffs pushed the Cardinal closer than any team has in Pac-12 Conference play this season in every set (25-27, 23-25, 22-25). Though the Buffs were not able to pick up a set, a feat accomplished just twice against Stanford this season in Pac-12 play, Colorado's seven-point margin was the closest.
"I thought it was a really competitive match," CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. "We played at a really high level, especially offensively.
"I thought that we did a lot of good things to put ourselves in position to be competitive and successful against what is probably the best team in the country."
Junior outside Justine Spann led the team with 18 kills. She and Alexa Smith each nearly had 20-point matches with Smith finishing with 17 kills while hitting .342. Smith picked up another double-double as she also led the team with a dozen digs.
Emily DeMure rotated in at right side with Lauren Dorrell and put down five kills on seven errorless swings. Joining her with five kills were Dorrell and Naghede Abu.
The team's high hitting percentage and kills per set mark was accomplished with successful passing and setting. Jenna Ewert posted 23 assists, while Brynna DeLuzio had 19. The duo's 14 assists per set is the second-best mark this season.
"We actually passed really well in all the sets, especially the first set," DeLuzio said. "We did a good job in our serve and pass game and we were able to run pin-to-pin middle. When we are able to do that we can spread out the offense and everyone was hitting well today."
Defense was hard to come by in the match, with each team executing extraordinary hitting in the first two sets. Danielle Price led the team with three block assists, while Spann added eight digs to Smith's team-best dozen. Both setters also had seven digs, while Gabby Carta-Samuels tallied six.
In the first set, the Cardinal survived the second set-point and pushed to their first set-point at 26-25. Stanford won the set on an ace, taking it 27-25. Both teams hit greater than .400 in the set, with Kathryn Plummer posting 10 kills in the opening set for Stanford.
Much like the opening set, the second set started with a 4-4 tie. CU took its first lead with a DeMure kill, her fourth on four swings. That sparked a three-point run for the Buffs to take a 6-4 lead before Stanford could sideout again. The set swung back Stanford's way at 20-19. Stanford reached set-point at 24-22, finishing off the set at 25-23. The match already had 33 ties and 12 lead changes at that point.
In the third set, The Cardinals pushed the gap back to 19-15, forcing a CU timeout. The Buffs clawed back into it to scare Stanford into another timeout at 23-21. CU would survive a single match-point before the Cardinals finished off the match.
The Buffs remain home next weekend for matchups against No. 20 Oregon and Oregon State.
"Every match is important but the next one is most important," Mahoney said. "We will be ready and prepare and be good to go this weekend."