The days of consistent 0-3 losses for the University of Colorado volleyball team appear to be over. After a fairly successful four-game road trip, CU returned home to face Stanford and California, both top 10 teams.
In both matches the Buffs started out strong, nearly winning the first set, but it was the second set where the Buffs showed their electric potential, using aggressive serving and an attacking mentality to put their opponent away, winning their first two sets at home in Pac-12 play. “It’s a glimpse of greatness every single time,” said senior captain Kerra Schroeder. “We know we can do it.”
As CU continues its strong play in the second half of the double roundrobin Pac-12 schedule, they have an advantage in that many teams expect the Buffs to roll over, and are taken aback when they see CU’s high level of play.
“When we are coming this hard at teams, they’re kind of thrown back,” said middle blocker Nikki Lindow.
“Like, ‘Whoa, this is Colorado, what are they doing?’ It’s starting to work, and it’s wearing on them.” The fact that the Buffs are able to keep pirits high despite a 5-20 record, including a 0-17 mark in conference, is a testament to CU’s dedication to build for the future.
Yesterday, the Buffs signed the highest-rated volleyball class in the program’s history. Members include Fairview High School’s Nicole Edelman, an Olympic level setter; Alexis Austin, a middle blocker from Texas; and Chelsey Keoho, a skilled defensive specialist from Hawaii. Even though there is no postseason to motivate the Buffs down the stretch, CU’s effort will undoubtedly continue to be strong.
“The season’s running short on us here,” said head coach Liz Kritza. “We’re running out of time, so there’s a sense of urgency about it. It’s not enough just to compete and to be showing progress, and I think that’s what’s helping us to get better and really to stay positive and keep these kids going.”
Perhaps no Buff embodies a positive mindset better than sophomore defensive specialist Elysse Richardson. Richardson, who stands at a “generous” 5 feet, 2 inches, has been perhaps CU’s most improved player through Pac-12 play, and she accompanies her skill by playing with a positive attitude not seen enough in sport.
Richardson was put in a tough position against Cal at the very end of the match when CU ran out of subs, and Richardson was forced to play in the front row. Having received a set, Richardson swung as hard as she could, hitting the ball just long, giving the match to the Golden Bears. Instead of moping about her poor fortune, Richardson shrugged off the miss. “The littlest one out there seems to have the most fight,” Kritza said.
“The response she had was exactly what the team has to have, of ‘Great, I’m [5-feet, 2-inches], playing against a [6-foot, 5-inch] player,’ just going with everything that she has. It’s exactly the mentality that we have to have.”
Colorado goes on the road to face Arizona and Arizona State. The Buffs were extremely competitive with the Sun Devils when they faced them earlier in the season, losing in three sets, all by the score of 23-25.