The University of Colorado volleyball put together its best match of the season Sunday afternoon, rallying back from a slow start to upset No.12-ranked UCLA by a score of 3-1 (27-25, 23-25, 25-22, 25-20) at CU Events Center.
The Buffs (5-7 Pac-12) overcame being down 14-5 to the Bruins (10-4 Pac-12) to start the first set and rallied back behind freshman Maya Tabron to take the first set 27-25. The freshman played her first significant time for CU and was key to a 7-0 run in the first set that started with her on the service line and included an ace. She then made starts in the next three sets, playing all six rotations for the rest of the match.
“Kudos to our players for responding the way they did after Friday, and really responding the way they have during the streak that we’ve had. We’ve had great practices. We haven’t given up. We’ve worked to make some changes and figure out ways that we can get better,” head coach Jesse Mahoney said. “It’s rare that we do a lot on a day in between but we had a pretty long practice and got a lot of jumps in (yesterday) just because we had to get it right. They came out, and really just did such a great job, not only following a game plan which coaches always like, but just individually playing with some passion. It was good. It was good for us to get a lot of effort out of our team, especially after going down so big in the first set. We just kept working out and kept working at it, and won that set and I think that won the match.”
Tabron hit for 10 kills, the first time for her in double digits in her young career, but it was sophomore right side Sterling Parker looking like her 2019 self and leading the team with 15 kills and a .464 hitting percentage that made all the difference.
She was joined by Meegan Hart who dominated the front row with 13 kills and a .545 hitting percentage with just one hitting error. Hart also had eight blocks, an ace and added four crucial digs. Leah Clayton had 14 kills and a .206 hitting percentage as CU hit .237 in the match.
The 6-2 offense was on full display with Brynna DeLuzio posting 27 assists and 11 digs while Jenna Ewert had 24 assists and seven digs. Both setters also put down a pair of aces to help CU win the service game.
Despite all the offense though, CU’s defense was the key to victory as the team put down 13 blocks and held UCLA to a .205 hitting percentage, including limiting All-American Mac May to just seven kills and a .032 hitting percentage. Anything that did get past the block was cleaned up by Katie Lougeay with 17 digs to go along with Clayton’s 12.
With May consistently behind, UCLA turned to elan McCall, Emily Ryan and Allison Jacobs who had 11, 10 and 10 kills, respectfully. Zoe Fleck had a match-high 19 digs while McCall and Kate Lane had 11 digs.
The win ties for the second-highest ranked conference win under head coach Jesse Mahoney, tying the 2017 season that upset No.12 Oregon.
Colorado 3, UCLA 1
UCLA 25 25 22 20
Colorado 27 23 25 25
Kills – UCLA: McCall, elan (11), Ryan, Emily (10), Jacobs, Allison (10); CU: Parker, Sterling (15), Clayton, Leah (14), Hart, Meegan (13)
Aces – UCLA: May, Mac (2); CU: DeLuzio, Brynna (2), Ewert, Jenna (2), Hart, Meegan (1)
Blocks – UCLA: Ryan, Emily (6), Smith, Sabrina (4), Jacobs, Allison (4); CU: Hart, Meegan (8), Parker, Sterling (4), Kuehl, Alexia (4)
Assists – UCLA: Pak, Audrey (20), Lane, Kate (20), Fleck, Zoe (2); CU: DeLuzio, Brynna (27), Ewert, Jenna (24), Lougeay, Katie (7)
Digs – UCLA: Fleck, Zoe (19), McCall, elan (11), Lane, Kate (11); CU: Lougeay, Katie (17), Clayton, Leah (12), DeLuzio, Brynna (11)