On Friday the University of Colorado women's volleyball team took No.2-ranked Stanford to five-sets on the road, becoming just the second team to bring the powerhouse to five this season and first to do so as an unranked opponent in Stanford in more than two years.
Things did not look good for the Buffs after dropping the first two sets 25-19 and 25-21, but a resilient Colorado team battled to comeback in sets three and four by a score of 29-27. The Cardinal finished out the match with an 8-1 run with six-straight points to end the improbable comeback.
Stanford has only been pushed to five-sets one other time this season, a match on the road against BYU who took the No.1-ranking title from the Cardinal and have yet to relinquish it. This is also the first time in school history that CU has forced a fifth-set on the road against Stanford. With the loss Colorado falls to 14-11 with a 6-8 mark in conference play. Stanford remains unbeaten in the Pac-12 and are a win away from clinching the conference championship with five matches remaining.
Junior outside Justine Spann had a career-night while going head-to-head against the reigning AVCA Player of the Year in Kathryn Plummer. Spann led all players with a career-high 24 kills and posted a .304 hitting percentage. She had a kill more than Plummer who hit .232 in the match.
Also for the Buffs, Alexa Smith came on late with 12 kills in the third and fourth sets to lead CU to a fifth-set.
Setter Jenna Ewert captured a double-double with a career-high 53 assists. She also tied Rachel Whipple for most digs on the team with 15.
The trio of Naghede Abu, Danielle Price and Anyse Smith all finished with six blocks to lead Colorado to 14 total blocks. Abu, Spann and Alexa Smith all had solo blocks, while Smith also added three block assists. Gabby Carta-Samuels added 10 digs to Whipple and Ewert's count, while outsides Spann and Smith each had eight.
Blocking was the largest difference in the match. Stanford, the national-leading team in blocks, tied its season-best with 21 total blocks against Colorado. Tami Alade finished with 15 total blocks and a match-high .727 hitting percentage with eight kills.
The Buffs' ability to sideout in the third and fourth proved to be the key to send it to five. After posting just a 43 percent mark in sideout in the first set, CU managed 66 in the second and sky rocketed that to 75 in the third. CU tallied 70 percent in the fourth on 27 tries, then fell back to 46 in the final set.
Like the first matchup, this was one of the closest matches CU faced all season. This is just the second time CU has forced a fifth set after starting down 0-2. The match featured 56 total ties and 22 lead changes. CU faced five match points.