In Jesse Mahoney's second season at the helm of the Colorado volleyball team, the Buffaloes have evolved into a much bigger factor in the Pac-12 Conference race.

With wins in five of their past six matches, the Buffs have moved into fifth-place in one of the premier volleyball conferences in the nation. CU struggled to a 6-14 mark in the Pac-12 a year ago, including a late stretch of nine losses in 10 games. Yet the Buffs' recent surge of five wins in six matches has pushed the club to No. 17 in the RPI — well within the NCAA Tournament picture with eight regular-season games remaining.

CU's run began after losing both matches on a trip through Washington in early October, and the Buffs will have an opportunity for a little payback against both clubs at home this weekend, beginning with a Wednesday night date against Washington State.

Here is a look at the matchup:

Washington State at Colorado volleyball

WHEN: Wednesday, 7 p.m., Coors Events Center.

BROADCAST: Pac-12 Network.

RECORDS: Washington State 14-10, 3-9 Pac-12 Conference; CU 17-6, 7-5.


NOTES: Prior to a home loss last year and a loss at WSU a few weeks ago, the Buffs had won six straight games against the Cougars. CU leads the all-time series 9-4 ... CU ranks fourth in the league with 13.79 kills per set. That attack will be tested by a Washington State defense that ranks second in the Pac-12 with 3.05 blocks per set ... CU setter Brynna DeLuzio, who this week on the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week award for the third time this season, is second in the league with 11.24 assists per set ... CU's Naghede Abu ranks sixth in the Pac-12 in blocks per set (1.23) and Gabby Carta-Samuels ranks sixth in digs per set (3.75) ... Since defeating CU at home on Oct. 6, Washington State has lost six of seven games ... CU senior Anna Pfefferle needs eight blocks to move into second place on the Buffs' career list ... The Buffs host No. 11 Washington Friday night at 6 p.m. (Pac-12 Network) ... One perk for attendees Wednesday night is hot dogs will be $1 at the CEC concession stands.

Pat Rooney: or