• Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Anna Pfefferle tries to spike the ball past Oregon defenders during Saturday's game in Boulder.

  • Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer

    Colorado's Gabby Simpson hits it past Oregon's Haley McLaren during Saturday's game in Boulder.




While certainly there are never any breathers on the Pac-12 volleyball schedule, Saturday night’s contest against a struggling Oregon program presented a chance for the CU Buffaloes to cement their position in the top half of arguably the toughest league in the nation.

Instead, it became a lost opportunity for the Buffs.

Unable to close out the win throughout five hotly-contested sets, Oregon stunned CU with a 25-22, 22-25, 23-25, 25-19, 15-11 decision at the Coors Events Center.

“I feel like we lost just a little focus of keeping our calmness,” CU senior Alexis Austin said. “We knew we were a good team. We knew we could beat them in three or four. Something better than five.”

CU entered the match having won four of its previous five contests and defeated the Ducks in five sets on the road Oct. 2 when Oregon was ranked No. 22. The Ducks, though, had struggled of late, arriving in Boulder with losses five of their previous six. Less than 24 hours before hitting the Coors Events Center floor, the Ducks suffered a four-set loss against a Utah squad that had been mired in a nine-game losing streak.

Those trends were reversed Saturday night. After taking a 2-1 set advantage, CU led only briefly in the middle of the fourth set and watched the Ducks race to an 11-7 lead in the decisive fifth set.

“We aren’t going to make or break our season on one particular match. We’re not going to make a bigger deal of this match than we should,” CU coach Liz Kritza said. “It’s a tough loss, but we make the best use of every tough loss and every negative that happens in our program.

“There isn’t an easy match, regardless of what the ranking says or whatever number is attached to the team we’re about to play. Everybody in the Pac-12 at this point in the year are dealing with the same things. They’re pressing to make sure that (NCAA) tournament resume looks good. They’re pressing to make sure they’re winning at home and keeping track of those last 10 matches of the season, as the selection committee does. It’s a condition of being in the top conference in the country.”

Austin (16 kills) and Gabby Simpson (15) paced the Buffs offense but didn’t receive much help, as the duo combined for 31 of CU’s 48 kills. Cierra Simpson recorded 21 digs and senior setter Nicole Edelman turned in another strong all-around game with 42 assists and 11 digs. Freshman Naghede Abu posted eight blocks.

The schedule doesn’t get easier for the Buffs, who play ranked opponents in each of their next five games. That run begins next weekend at UCLA and USC.


CU associate athletic director Ceal Barry confirmed that volleyball assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ryal Jagd has been placed on administrative leave indefinitely. Barry did not divulge further details. Jagd, in his fourth season with the program and his second as a full-time assistant, was not on the bench for either of CU’s matches this weekend.

Pat Rooney: or

Oregon 3, Colorado 2

At Coors Events Center

Oregon (11-10, 5-7) 25 22 23 25 15

CU (14-10, 6-6) 22 25 25 19 11

Kills — Oregon: Bettendorf 17, Agost 16, Vander Weide 13; CU: Austin 16, G. Simpson 15.

Blocks — Oregon: Gill 4, Agost 4, Nady 3; CU: Abu 8, G. Simpson 5.

Assists — Oregon: Vander Weide 35, Raskie 30; CU: Edelman 42.

Aces — Oregon: Raskie 2, Vander Weide 2; CU: Pfefferle 4, Edelman 2.

Digs — Oregon: Benson 25, Vander Weide 16; CU: C. Simpson 21, Edelman 11, Austin 9.