Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Colorado volleyball junior Frankie Shebby was a late scratch from Friday’s win against Oregon State when she aggravated a nagging back injury during pregame warm-ups.
It probably would have taken a full-blown limb amputation to keep Shebby out of the action Saturday.
Facing her former teammates from No. 12-ranked Oregon, the former Ducks player took out some simmering frustration on her old friends, leading the Buffaloes to an impressive 3-1 victory at the Coors Events Center.
Shebby was dismissed somewhat controversially from Oregon after spending two seasons in the program. The coach who made that decision, Jim Moore, was relieved of his duties last spring after several former players (not Shebby) wrote open letters to the university detailing an alleged pattern of verbal abuse from Moore.
“I still talk to a few of those girls and I’ve always been pretty close to them. They’re a great group of girls,” Shebby said. “For me, it was more getting this win. I know we can beat anyone in the Pac-12 and it’s all about us being consistent, and I think we played very consistently tonight.
“My back randomly flares up and there’s not really much I can do about it. But I woke up today feeling great.”
Both clubs entered the match having turned in demanding five-set victories a night earlier, with the Buffs topping Oregon State and the Ducks outlasting Utah on the road. If Saturday’s showdown was destined to be a battle of attrition it was the one player who didn’t play Friday, Shebby, who provided the energetic spark for CU early.
Shebby led four Buffs players who reached double-figures in kills by recording 16. Alexa Smith posted 14 kills to go with a team-leading 19 digs, while Naghede Abu contributed 11 kills and nine blocks. Senior Anna Pfefferle recorded seven blocks and became just the fifth player in the history of the program to reach 400 blocks in her career.
“We’ve been a little up-and-down this season, but when we play really good competition I think we rise to the occasion,” CU coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I was really proud of our team for coming back after a five-set match last night. We had a very focused walk-through today and the first set we played as well as we have all season. That kind of set the tone for the match. Everyone contributed, which is nice.”
CU raced to a 9-2 lead early in set 1 and never trailed, eventually posting a 25-18 win. The Buffs used a 5-0 run to storm back late in set 2 but couldn’t quite complete the rally, as Oregon evened the match with a 26-24 win.
CU repeated that pattern in set 3 with a late 5-0 run but this time finished the job, once again taking the advantage with a 25-19 win. The Buffs clinched their second victory of the season against a ranked foe with a 25-18 decision in the fourth set.
“We had kind of a relaxed day. I should probably do that more often because we came out and were pretty bouncy early,” Mahoney said. “We were fast-twitch and jumping really well. All these matches are big matches, but we feel we let a couple slip away and we wanted to make the most of our home court and get a win against a team like this.”
Pat Rooney: email@example.com or twitter.com/prooney07
Colorado 3, No. 12 Oregon 1
At Coors Events Center
Oregon (9-3, 2-2) 18 26 19 18
Colorado (12-3, 2-2) 25 24 25 25
Kills — Oregon: Vander Weide 13, Stone 11; CU: Shebby 16, Smith 14, Abu 11, Hayes 10.
Blocks — Oregon: Gill 4, Stone 4; CU: Abu 9, Hayes 9, Pfefferle 7.
Assists — Oregon: Scott 24, Raskie 20; CU: DeLuzio 46.
Aces — Oregon: Hojnar 2; CU: Spann 2, DeLuzio 1.
Digs — Oregon: Hojnar 19; CU: Smith 19, Carta-Samuels 17, DeLuzio 13.