The fate of the University of Colorado women's volleyball team's chances at postseason play is officially out of their hands after a four-set loss (25-23, 22-25, 31-29, 16-25) to Utah in Salt Lake City Friday afternoon.
With the result, Utah and Colorado finish with identical 18-13 overall records and a 10-10 mark in the Pac-12. Utah will better their ranking of 40 in the RPI rankings after sweeping the eighth-ranked team in RPI in USC and closing out the season against the Buffs. Colorado entered the week ranked 46 in RPI, and with a win against No. 25 UCLA the team hit their goal of a 3-1 record to close the season.
A long third set proved to be the difference for the Buffaloes. The team began down 4-0 in the set but battled back to take the lead at 6-5 with a five-point run. The teams traded leads to a 19 all tie, but CU would rise to the occasion and earn a 22-20 advantage late in the set. Three-straight kills moved Utah past Colorado and into the first of many set-points. CU earned a pair of set-points in the long back-and-forth battle, but in the end lost the set and momentum for the rest of the match.
"We certainly would have liked to have been up 2-1 going into the fourth," said coach Jesse Mahoney about the third set. "We didn't respond the way we needed to."
The Colorado blocking kept the team in the match in the early sets. CU notched five team blocks in both sets one and three, finishing with 13 ½ total team blocks in the match. The difference in the outcome was in the serving game in those two sets, as Utah had three aces in each.
"We passed poorly for sure," said Mahoney when asked about the Utah serving. "Utah's aces and our serve errors lost sets one and three."
Alexa Smith led Colorado with 18 kills with a .265 hitting percentage. She also added 18 digs for a double-double and had two blocks to earn her eighth 20-point match of the season. Naghede Abu was nearly flawless with 11 kills and a .476 hitting percentage, while Justine Spann had 13 kills and Anyse Smith had 11.
"Lex and Naghede are our two best players and they always come up big when it matters," said Mahoney. "We needed another point scorer today as well to beat a team as good as Utah."
Utah 3, Colorado 1Colorado (18-13, 10-10 Pac-12) 23 25 29 16
Utah (18-13, 10-10) 25 22 31 21
Kills — CU: Smith(18), Spann(13), Abu (11); Utah: Drews (30), Koerber (13), Yett (12).
Blocks — CU: Abu (8), Price (5), Smith, Anyse (5); Utah: Koerber (5), Evans (4), Grace (3).
Assists — CU: Ewert (53), Carta-Samuels (2), Whipple (2); Utah: Choy (51), Doehrmann (5), Ka'aha'aina-Torres, (3).
Aces — CU: Smith (1), Neverdowski (1), Whipple (1); Utah: Choy (2), Yett (2), Doehrmann(2).
Digs — CU:Whipple (21), Smith, Alexa (18), Spann (8); Utah: Yett (18), Choy (12), Doehrmann (12) .