The University of Colorado women’s volleyball team fell short in the first match of the 2018 Pac-12 vs. Big Ten Challenge Friday night in a three-set loss (25-19, 26-24, 25-21) to No. 11 Illinois.

“Illinois is a very good team,” said head coach Jesse Mahoney. “They put a lot of service pressure on us, (I) didn’t feel like we stepped up to that challenge at times. With the exception of set two, we didn’t pass very well. We struggled to find a rhythm offensively and couldn’t score.”

The Buffs struggled in passing all evening, allowing the Illini to go off for six aces in addition to having 42 kills. The team also had difficulties hitting around and through the Illinois block that had a team total of a dozen blocks.

Despite the passing woes, junior Justine Spann had 10 kills and a team-high .308 hitting percentage. She was joined by senior Alexa Smith and redshirt freshman Anyse Smith who dished out six kills apiece. The Buffs split the setting duties, with sophomore Brynna DeLuzio leading the way with 16 assists while freshman Jenna Ewert had 11.

Defensively the team had strong moments of glory up front in the block. Redshirt freshman Danielle Price had a team-high four blocks, joining forces with junior Lillie Klemmer and Anyse Smith who had three blocks apiece. The team tallied eight total blocks with one solo block coming from Smith.

Junior libero Rachel Whipple was the lone Buff in double-digit digs with a dozen.

“We regroup for tomorrow to take on a very good Big Ten team in Iowa,” said Mahoney. “We will look to rebound, control the ball a little bit better, have a certain intensity, commitment to our defensive schemes and be better tomorrow.”

The 21st ranked Buffaloes will look to reload fast as the team takes on Iowa Saturday evening at 6 p.m. in Seattle to conclude the tournament.

Illinois 3, Colorado 0

At Seattle

Illinois (4-0) 25 26 25

Colorado (2-2) 19 24 21

Kills — ILL: Quade (13), Prince (9), Cooney (9); CU: Spann (10), Smith, Alexa (6), Smith, Anyse (6).

Blocks — ILL: Bastianelli (6), Fleming (5), Poulter (4); CU: Price, (4), Smith, Anyse (4), Klemmer (3).

Assists — ILL: Poulter (35), O’Brien (3), Cooney (1) ; CU: DeLuzio (16), Ewert (11), Whipple (3) .

Aces — ILL: Kuper (3), Bastianelli (1), Quade (1); CU: Smith, Alexa (1).

Digs — ILL: Welsh (11), O’Brien (9), Poulter (7) ; CU: Whipple (12), Smith, Alexa (9), Spann (6).