Senior Leah Clayton put the Colorado volleyball team on her back at the end of the fifth set and the result was the Buffs’ second-straight home win over a top-12 team as CU knocked off No. 11 Utah in five sets (19-25, 25-23, 15-25, 25-22, 15-13).
The Buffs improve to 6-3 at home and 6-9 on the season while the Utes fall to 11-4 overall and 5-4 away from home. The two teams will meet again Sunday in Salt Lake City. The Buffs continue to prove they can play with any team in the country at the CU Events Center, as the Buffs’ only three losses at home this season are two against No. 10 Washington, one of which was a five-set thriller, and once to No. 11 UCLA.
After the Buffs saw an 11-6 fifth-set lead shrink to 11-10, an Elissa Alcantara kill put the Buffs up 12-10 and Clayton then scored CU’s final three points of the match to secure the victory. Clayton led the way offensively throughout the match and finished with 22 kills on 67 attacks, adding 10 digs for a double-double. Her 22 kills are her second-highest total this season behind 29 against Washington and her 67 attacks is a season-high.
Alcantara added 12 kills while the trio of Sterling Parker (11 kills, .476 hitting percentage), Alexia Kuehl (8 kills, .462), and Meegan Hart (7 kills, .462) all hit over .400 offensively. The Buffs were led offensively in the 6-2 offense by setters Brynna DeLuzio (24 assists, 15 digs) and Jenna Ewert (29 assists, two aces, seven digs).
Defensively, Zoe Neverdowski started at libero and recorded a career-high and CU season-high 23 digs and along with DeLuzio’s 15 digs. Maya Tabron was also solid in the back row with 14 digs of her own. Neverdowski’s dig total is the first over 20 for a Buff this season. Kuehl led the Buffs block with seven on the night and Clayton added four and Hart three.
The two teams were relatively evenly matched statistically as the Buffs had a 67-64 advantage in kills and a 74-66 advantage in digs while the Utes had slight advantages in blocks (13-10), aces (9-8), and hitting percentage (.253-.240).
After the trip to Salt Lake City on Sunday, the Buffs return to Boulder to close out the home season with two matches against Arizona State on Friday, March 26, and Sunday, March 28. The Buffs then end the regular season in Los Angeles with a pair of matches at Southern California.