No. 16 national ranking the best since ’98 for CU Buffs volleyball

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
The play of junior outside hitter Stephanie Shadley is one of many reasons the Colorado volleyball team has climbed to No. 16, the program’s best national ranking since 1998.


The Colorado Buffaloes volleyball team has achieved its highest national ranking in 18 years.

It’s impressive enough that CU has risen to No. 16 in the latest poll released by the American Volleyball Coaches Association in just 10 matches under first-year coach Jesse Mahoney.

What’s even more impressive is the Buffs have played shorthanded the entire season.

Junior setter/outside hitter Gabby Simpson missed the season’s opening weekend at the Portland State Invitational, where the Buffs won two of three matches. Simpson returned the following week to help spark wins against ranked squads from Penn State and Illinois, but senior middle blocker Katelyn Cuff missed those matches as well as the five since due to an ankle injury.

Mahoney said Cuff might remain unavailable for his team’s Pac-12 Conference opener Wednesday night at home against Utah but hinted she could return for the Buffs’ match Sunday afternoon against Arizona.

“I think Katelyn would like to be ready to go (for Utah). She’s kind of on the edge,” Mahoney said. “Utah, I’m not so sure. Later on in the weekend we’ll have a better shot for that.”

CU’s No. 16 ranking is its best since late in the 1998 season. The Buffs moved up two spots after sweeping through three matches over the weekend in the Omni Invitational, culminating in the Buffs’ first win against Colorado State since 2002.

Nebraska remained a unanimous choice at No. 1, followed by Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Washington. A total of six Pac-12 teams reached the latest top-25 poll, a list that also includes UCLA (9), Stanford (11), USC (21), and Oregon (24). Utah brings an 8-2 mark to the Coors Events Center and is fifth team listed among the others receiving votes in this week’s poll.

Pat Rooney: or