The Oregon State volleyball team did all it could to ruin a career night for University of Colorado volleyball senior Alexis Austin.
In the end, the Buffaloes simply refused to let that happen.
Despite an impressive effort from an upset-minded Oregon State squad, Austin and the Buffs were able to maintain their winning ways Friday night at the Coors Events Center, surviving a five-set thriller as CU earned its fourth win in five games.
“We expected a battle and this was a tough match for us,” CU coach Liz Kritza said. “Any time we have an opportunity to learn a lesson and prove just what this team is made of, I think it’s a positive. Obviously love the win, and I’m really proud of how my players and this program ran tonight.”
Austin admitted afterward that many of her top games have occurred against Oregon State, and Friday night was no exception.
Not only did Austin record a career-high 27 kills, but she also became the Buffs’ all-time leader in kills during the rally-scoring era. It was the fifth time this season Austin has eclipsed the 20-kill plateau, and her first kill in Saturday’s quick-turnaround showdown against Oregon will make Austin the sixth CU player overall to record 1,300 kills in her career.
“The last three years, every time we play Oregon State I feel like it’s my best game,” said Austin, who posted her previous career-best of 26 kills last year against the Beavers. “Tonight I made it a must to capitalize on that. Tonight was definitely a great night.”
After taking the first set, the Buffs controlled much of set 2 before Oregon State rallied late, erasing a late 22-20 CU lead by scoring five of the set’s final six points to draw even.
CU once more pulled ahead with a one-sided 25-18 win in set 3, but Oregon State again kept the hosts nervous, closing with a 9-2 run to steal set 4 and set up a decisive fifth frame.
This time it was the Buffs who finished strong, securing the victory by closing on a 5-2 run.
“A couple times we had a lead and let it go, so we talked about making sure that we’re fighting and we’re doing it together and that we’re taking control of the rhythm of the play,” senior setter Nicole Edelman said. “We just made sure we were on the same page and zeroed in on the goal.”
Edelman finished with 47 assists and 18 digs, while Gabby Simpson supported Austin on the attack with 15 kills. Cierra Simpson (19 digs) and freshman Naghede Abu (eight blocks) paced the Buffs defensively.
“We’ve never shied away from a challenge, and we won’t shy away from (Oregon) either,” Kritza said. “We had more sets tonight, more attacks and jumping, than we cared to, but that’s the game. Playing in the Pac-12 means one tough opponent after another.”
Colorado 3, Oregon State 2
At Coors Events Center
Oregon State (4-17, 2-9)
CU (14-9, 6-5)
Oregon State: Marshall 25, Clarke 11, Reagan 9; CU: Austin 27, G. Simpson 15, Pfefferle 12.
Oregon State: Backlund 5, Clarke 4; CU: Abu 8, Pfefferle 6.
Oregon State: Backlund 50; CU: Edelman 47, C. Simpson 14.
Oregon State: Backlund 2, Buehner 2, Reagan 2; CU: Pfefferle 1, Edelman 1, Hayes 1, Shadley 1.
Oregon State: Ellis 26, Backlund 13, Marshall 11, Reagan 10; CU: C. Simpson 19, Edelman 18, Austin 11, G. Simpson 11.