With the possibility of hosting the NCAA Tournament on the line, the University of Colorado volleyball team fell 3-1 (25-13, 19-25, 23-25, 24-26) to No. 16 Utah on senior day in the final regular season match of the season to finish the regular season at 22-9 overall and 12-8 in the Pac-12 Conference.
Utah finished the regular season at 22-9 and 13-7 in the Pac-12. The Buffs will finish no worse than a tie for fifth in the Pac-12 standings, the 12-8 record the Buffs best in the six-year history of the league. The Buffs will finish in sole possession of fifth if USC beats UCLA on Saturday.
Colorado now awaits its NCAA Tournament fate. The NCAA Division I Volleyball Selection Show will take place Sunday at 7 p.m. and be televised by ESPNU.
The Buffs jumped all over Utah in the first set and easily won it, 25-13. Utah rebounded and won the second set by six points and then the third and fourth were both two-point affairs with Utah taking both with late-set rallies.
"First of all, congratulations to Utah on a great season. The Pac-12 can be brutal. They certainly had some big wins throughout the year and they're going to have an opportunity to host in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. That's a very good team. It was a very hard fought match. I almost wish we wouldn't have won the first set as big as we did. I think that woke them up a little bit," head coach Jesse Mahoney said. "After that first set, I still felt like our teams were pretty evenly matched. We relied on our outsides a lot and they took a lot of really good swings. Utah's block wore us down a little bit towards the end of the last couple sets. That being said, I feel like they played particularly well tonight. Utah has so many offensive options and I think we got a little spread thin defensively. We weren't able to hold our leads, especially in the last set. I'm very proud of our effort and I am very proud of our season."
CU's left side duo of Alexa Smith (20 kills, 10 digs) and Frankie Shebby (17 kills, 10 digs) recorded 37 of the Buffs 55 kills as the Buffs had issues getting the middles involved offensively. They did have a solid defensive match with Naghede Abu coming up with five blocks and Anna Pfefferle four. Brynna Deluzio had a solid match with 47 assists, seven digs and four blocks of her own and Joslyn Hayes hit .400 with seven kills and four blocks of her own on the right side. Gabby Carta-Samuels led the Buffs digging effort with a match-high 15 on the night.
Utah now leads the series 11-9, including 9-5 in Pac-12 play. The Utes swept the seasons series for the second time, the other coming in 2011 in the first year for both teams in the Pac-12. The two teams split the season series the previous five seasons.
Utah 3, Colorado 1Utah (22-9, 13-7 Pac-12) 13 25 25 26
Colorado (22-9, 12-8 Pac-12) 25 19 23 24
Kills — Utah: Anae 19, Gauta 14, Koerber 7; CU: Smith 20, Shebby 17, Hayes 7.
Blocks — Utah: Luafalemana 5, Koerber 3; CU: Abu 5, Pfefferle 4, DeLuzio 4.
Assists — Utah: Choy 37, Machado 14; CU: DeLuzio 47, Carta-Samuels 5.
Aces — Utah: Glasker 1, Koerber 1, Oblad 1; CU: Shebby, 2, DeLuzio 2.
Digs — Utah: Glasker 11, Anae 11, Choy 9 ; CU: Carta-Samuels 15, Shebby 10, Smith 10.