The milestone, naturally, will be memorable. That it arrived thanks to a stirring rally by his Colorado volleyball team made it doubly satisfying for Jesse Mahoney.
On the brink of getting swept on Friday night, which also would have meant getting swept in the home-and-home series with state rival Colorado State, the Buffaloes rallied for an exciting five-set win against the Rams, earning a split of the home-and-home series 21-25, 10-25, 25-20, 25-19, 15-8.
It was win No. 100 for Mahoney at CU, becoming the third Buffs coach to reach that mark, following Pi’I Aiu (199 wins) and Brad Saindon (181). Now in his seventh season at CU, Mahoney owns a mark of 100-85 with the Buffs.
In a tough four-set loss on Thursday, the Buffs (8-2) played before a crowd of 8,396 that was a record at CSU’s Moby Arena for a volleyball game. CU didn’t quite answer to that level, but the crowd of 3,695 at the CU Events Center on Friday was the largest for a volleyball game in 15 years and the third largest in program history.
“That was fun,” Mahoney said. “A hundred wins just means I’ve been here for a little while. I’m happy for the milestone, but mostly just happy for our players for rebounding. Fantastic atmosphere and can’t wait to do it again.”
What turned into an epic match had the look of one that might be over quickly after the Rams took a two-set lead following a dominant 25-10 decision in the second set. CU did not own a single lead through the first two sets but finished the third set with an 11-5 run to stay alive.
The Rams led 18-16 late in set 4 before the Buffs once again finished strong, scoring seven consecutive points and nine of the final 10 in the frame to force a deciding fifth set. The Buffs never trailed in the final frame, earning the right to keep the Golden Spike traveling trophy the rivals use for bragging rights.
Meegan Hart and Maya Tabron both turned in impressive all-around games for the Buffs, with Hart recording a career-best 17 kills to go with nine blocks. Tabron paced the attack with 19 kills and also added four blocks. Setter Taylor Simpson posted 41 assists for her fourth 40-assist total of the season.
Friday’s match was the final nonconference contest for the Buffs, who open Pac-12 Conference play on Thursday at Utah.
“We just came together and listened. We’ve all know how to play volleyball and we just needed to keep it simple,” Hart said. “After (Thursday) night we had a lot of frustration. I think we tried to manage that. We just dialed in, focused on what we know how to do — passing, serving, hitting. We just tried to keep it simple.
“We always know (CSU) is going to play well against us and we try to match that energy.”
Colorado 3, Colorado State 2
CSU 25 25 20 19 8
CU 21 10 25 25 15
Kills — CSU: Stanford 18, Jones 16, Leber 13, Sullivan 12. CU: Tabron 19, Hart 17, Schneggenburger 9.
Assists — CU: Simpson 41. CSU: Pritchard 42.
Aces — CSU: Pritchard 1, Stanford 1. CU: Tabron 1, Schneggenburger 1.
Blocks — CSU: Leber 6, Pritchard 3. CU: Hart 9, Kuehl 4, Tabron 4.
Digs — CSU: Yoshimoto 22, Pritchard 15. CU: Lougeay 13, Schneggenburger 11, Tabron 10.