Until Friday, the Colorado volleyball team had not yet played a home match this season at the CU Events Center.
Normally, just three weeks into the campaign, this wouldn’t be cause for any sort of alarm. Yet given the Buffaloes played the delayed 2020 season earlier this year without fans in the stands, finally playing in front of some familiar faces was a welcome sight on Friday at the CU Events Center.
The Buffs gave those fans plenty to cheer about.
CU continued its impressive start to the 2021 season by picking up a pair of wins in the Buffs Invitational, knocking off Texas Tech 3-1 in the home opener on Friday morning before capping the day with a sweep against San Jose State (25-11, 25-21, 25-11).
The two victories improved CU to 6-0, matching the 2008 and 2017 squads for the best start in team history. The Buffs will take aim at the best start in program history on Saturday night when the complete the invitational at home against Northern Colorado (7 p.m.).
“Last year was an interesting year for a lot of reasons. But when we came back in August and started our training camp, I think we had a really good mentality throughout the entire training,” CU head coach Jesse Mahoney said. “We had to deal with some injuries. We have some nicks here and there, but we have a next-player-up mentality.
“We’ve won some matches this year where we’ve been down, and our resiliency, our mentality, has been in a really good place. We’re calm, we’re positive, and that’s exciting to see. We’re a veteran group now that’s been through a lot the last several years. So nothing is really fazing us anymore. I’m really happy with where we’re at right now.”
CU made quick work of San Jose State in the nightcap, scoring 11 consecutive points late in the first set before outlasting the Spartans with five of the final six points to break a 20-20 tie and take a two-set advantage. By then the Buffs had taken the fight out of the Spartans, as they jumped to an 18-6 lead in the third set before completing the sweep.
It was a slightly different story in the opener against Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders and Buffs squared off in an extended first set that saw Texas Tech serve at set point on three different occasions. However, CU ultimately held on and dispatched the Red Raiders 31-29 before prevailing in four sets.
Senior Leah Clayton continued to pace the CU offense, recording 19 kills in the opener against Texas Tech before adding a team-leading 11 kills in the sweep of San Jose State. The Buffs’ defense posted 15 team blocks against San Jose State while limiting the Spartans to a .000 hitting percentage (29 kills, 29 attack errors).
“With COVID we kind of grew together as a team. Now we feel a lot more comfortable with each other,” junior outside hitter Jill Schneggenburger said. “The fact that we’ve been through a lot has really helped us become more of a team.”
Colorado 3, San Jose State 0
SJ State 11 21 11
Colorado 25 25 25
Kills — San Jose State: Cammillucci 7, Harper 5; Colorado: Clayton 11, Tabron 7, Hart 7.
Assists — San Jose State: Kaniho 22; Colorado: Ewert 23.
Aces — San Jose State: Harper 2; Colorado: Ewert 1, Tabron 1.
Blocks — San Jose State: Bryant 1, Cammillucci 1, Harper 1; Colorado: Kuehl 6, Hart 6, Clayton 6.
Digs — San Jose State: Smevog 14; Colorado DeLuzio 9, Hart 7, Tabron 7, Ewert 7.
Colorado 3, Texas Tech 1
Texas Tech 29 21 25 14
Colorado 31 25 18 25
Kills — Texas Tech: Sauer 16, Kanas 14; Colorado: Clayton 19, Tabron 15, Hart 14.
Assists — Texas Tech: Kirby 45; Colorado: Ewert 49.
Aces — Texas Tech: Kanas 1, Morgan 1; Colorado: Perry 2.
Blocks — Texas Tech: Kanas 6, Dugan 4; Colorado: Hart 4, Kuehl 3, Schneggenburger 3.
Digs — Texas Tech: Adams 18, Kirby 17; Colorado: DeLuzio 22, Schneggenburger 14, Clayton 10.