In one of the best and closest fought matches of the season, the University of Colorado volleyball team gave the No. 10 Minnesota Gophers everything it had before falling 3-2 (25-20, 25-18, 17-25, 21-25, 15-9) on Saturday night at the Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.
"That was a battle," coach Liz Kritza said. "After the first two sets, that match could have taken a different route and a different course, but I'm very proud of my team. I'm proud of the adjustments they made, I'm proud of the fact that they came back and really made a high-level match of this. I'm very proud of the efforts this team has made in this turn-around season for us. We took some big steps this year.
"Credit to Hugh and his staff. I think Minnesota will go far in this tournament. They are a very well-coached and talented team."
The Buffs finish the season with an 18-14 record, recording its best season since 2006 when they also advanced to second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 18 wins this season is the most by a CU team since 2003 when the Buffs recorded 21.
Minnesota improved to 29-6 this season and advanced to the NCAA Regionals in Lexington, Ky. next weekend where the Gophers will face No. 6 Stanford.
It was an extremely well-rounded effort for the Buffs as five players recorded nine or more kills. The team recorded 64 kills and hit extremely well at .327 with 14 errors on 153 swings with Nicole Edelman handing out 50 assists. CU had the edge in hitting efficiency as the Buffs held the Gophers to .295; UM had 73 kills and 22 errors on 173 attacks.
The Gophers went after Taylor Simpson, limiting her offense to just six kills in the first three sets, but she broke through in the fourth set with five kills and added three in the fifth. In total, she had 14 on the night and hit .145 with six errors on 55 attacks.
The Buffs had the edge defensively with 73 digs, compared to 65 for UM. Jessica Aschenbrenner led both teams with 19 digs, two shy of her career-high (21) and Cierra Simpson had 17 in the effort. Taylor Simpson also had double-digit digs with 12 and Schroeder added 10.