The past few weeks haven’t been easy on Colorado’s volleyball players, but they’ve taken the approach of sticking together during a time of transition.
Earlier this month, CU administration made the decision to fire head coach Liz Kritza after seven seasons. On Friday, the school introduced her replacement, Jesse Mahoney.
“I honestly think it’s hard, but the biggest thing we’re trying to do is stick together,” junior Katelyn Cuff said. “At the end of the day, all of us know change is going to be hard and it’s going to be difficult.
“Later in life, you’re going to have to deal with changes, so I think it’s honestly a good thing for our team, but the biggest thing that we’re doing is sticking together.”
Kritza’s dismissal was not performance based. She was just 90-125 overall, but 57-41 the last three years with two trips to the NCAA tournament.
Off-the-court issues appear to have led to Kritza’s departure. Players declined to talk about what led to it, but said they will miss their former coach.
“She was a motherly figure to all of us, one of the greatest people in my life,” Cuff said.
Sophomore Joslyn Hayes said Kritza did not meet with the team as a group after getting dismissed, but a few players were able to say goodbye to her.
“She’s a great woman,” Hayes said. “She wanted to leave on the best of terms. She wishes the best for all of us, and we wish the best for her.”
While players will miss Kritza, they are beginning to embrace change.
“Change is inevitable, change is going to happen, and I think we’re all doing a good job of coping with it,” Hayes said.
Cuff, who will be a senior next season, said older players are helping to get everyone on the team in line with the decision to hire Mahoney.
“It’s a bummer, but it’s one of those things, though, that I think a new coaching staff is going to be very beneficial for us,” she said.
Coaching changes can often lead to players transferring, but for now all 13 Buffs slated to return are willing to work with Mahoney, Hayes said.
“Everybody is just kind of like, ‘Let’s get through the spring, see how it goes, feel things out’ and then decisions will probably be made afterwards,” she said.
As they go through the process, they’ll lean on each other, Hayes said.
“The end goal is to play good volleyball, be competitive, be good teammates,” she said.
Brian Howell: firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter: @BrianHowell33.