In a season filled with challenges unlike any other, this week was a particularly difficult one for the University of Colorado volleyball team.
Like everyone in the Boulder community, the Buffaloes of course found it difficult to get back to work in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Table Mesa King Soopers on Monday that claimed 10 innocent victims.
CU head coach Jesse Mahoney, a Boulder native, was emotional talking about the week’s events following his club’s home match on Friday, but at least the Buffs brought whatever joy they could to the CU Events Center by opening their final home weekend of the spring 2020-21 season with a five-set victory against Arizona State.
“I think it’s been tough for everybody across the country, and certainly in Boulder itself,” Mahoney said. “We practiced on Tuesday. We spent some time talking about the event. We had some players that were pretty shook up. As everyone knows who’s been in Boulder, there’s just been a pall over the town all week.
“You do your best to compartmentalize parts of your life when you’re an athlete. Sometimes it’s really hard to do. It’s been a rough year on top of that from a COVID standpoint. I think our kids are handling it and dealing with it as best as they can and trying to process things like that that are happening.”
The Buffs improved to 7-10 in the all-Pac-12 schedule, winning for the second time in three games after struggling through a 1-9 stretch. On Sunday, prior to the noon start in the home finale against Arizona State, the Buffs will bid farewell to their lone departing senior, graduate transfer Rachael Fara. CU’s only other senior, outside hitter Leah Clayton, plans to return for the expected 2021 fall season.
On Friday, while the match was extended to five sets, none of the first four were particularly competitive. ASU dominated the first frame with a 25-13 decision, but the Buffs took the next two, 25-16 and 25-13. The Sun Devils rebounded to win set four 25-16, but the Buffs outlasted ASU for a 16-14 win in the decisive fifth set.
CU posted a season-high 13 aces, including five from Jenna Ewert. Ewert also recorded 22 assists and 11 digs. Five different players recorded at least eight kills for the Buffs, led by 13 from Clayton.
“I think tonight we know we definitely could have won this game a bit better,” Clayton said. “(Saturday) we’re going to look at that at film and try to be better for the last game at home, try to get a ‘dub’ and then go on the road and try to do the same thing.
“We always try to be diverse. I think we do a very good job of moving the ball around, especially our setters. They definitely set us up to be successful.”
After Sunday’s home finale, the Buffs complete the season with two games next weekend at USC.
Colorado 3, Arizona State 2
Arizona State 25 16 13 25 14
Colorado 13 25 25 14 16
Kills: Arizona State — Isanovic 18, Levinska 15, Rabelo 14; Colorado — Clayton 13, Alcantara 9, Tabron 8, Parker 8, Hart 8.
Assists: Arizona State —Snyder 49; Colorado —Ewert 22, Deluzio 21.
Aces: Arizona State —Levinska 3, Larson 2; Colorado —Ewert 5, Lougeay 3.
Digs: Arizona State — Larson 21, Levinska 11; Colorado — Tabron 13, Clayton 12, Ewert 11.
Blocks: Arizona State — Stahlke 3, Rabelo 3; Colorado — Kuehl 3.