BOULDER - The Pac-12 Conference season has officially started for the University of Colorado volleyball team and the Buffs will face a very tough test with their first conference road trip against No. 1 California and No. 2 Stanford this Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16-17.
The Cal Golden Bears will host CU in Berkeley, Calif. on Friday, Sept. 16 and the Stanford Cardinal will play host to the Buffs on Saturday, Sept. 17 in Palo Alto, Calif. Cal is the top ranked team in both the AVCA Division I Coaches Poll as well as the Volleyball Magazine Poll. Stanford has the runner-up position in the same two polls.
Cal and Stanford met on the court on Tuesday, with Cal coming away with the 3-1 (23-25, 25-16, 25-16, 25-21) victory. Cal's Tarah Murrey led the Golden Bears with 15 kills and Adrienne Gehan added 11. Shannon Hawari was the other Golden Bear to reach double-digit kills with 10. Kat Brown hit a match high .667 (six kills on nine errorless attacks), while the team hit .264 in the match with Elly Barrett handing out 41 assists. Robin Rostratter led Cal with 29 digs.
Stanford was led by Rachel Willams, who hammered 15 kills and Carly Wopat added 11 kills. The Cardinal hit .103 with Karissa Cook recording 38 assists in the effort. Wopat put up six block assists and Jessica Walker had five block assists. Cook also led SU with 17 digs.
Cal is a perfect 11-0 on the season, 1-0 in the Pac-12. The loss was the first of the season for Stanford as it now owns a 6-1 record, 0-1 in the league. The Buffs are 2-0 all-time against the Golden Bears, which includes a 30-28, 30-25, 30-28 upset of Cal on Sept. 2, 2008 when it was ranked No. 11. Stanford has never lost to CU and owns the all-time series 7-0. The last time the two teams met was in Boulder on Sept. 8, 2005. The Cardinal won 30-26, 30-28, 30-24.
As a team Cal ranks second in the conference and third in the NCAA (.311). Barrett has handed out 11.32 assists per set (second in the conference). Kat Brown leads Cal and the conference with a .468 hitting percentage. She has recorded 41 kills and just four errors on 79 attacks. Correy Johnson is third in the league with a .424 attack percentage (66 kills and 13 errors on 125 swings). Hawari ranks seventh in the Pac-12 with a .384 hitting percentage (77 kills and 21 errors on 146 attacks). Cal also ranks second in the conference with 14.06 kills per set. Murrey is averaging 3.81 kills per set which is seventh in the Pac-12.
Defensively the Golden Bears are also strong. As a team they ranks third in digs in the conference (15.47 digs per set) and fourth in blocks (3.00 blocks per set). Rostratter ranks third in the Pac-12 with 4.65 digs per set and Hawari is fifth in the league with 1.33 blocks per set. Brown is averaging the seventh best mark in the league with 1.23 blocks per set.
Stanford's offense is led by Rachel Williams. She has recorded 5.04 kills per set to rank second in the league and the nation. Carly Wopat is second for the Cardinal with 3.07 kills per set. She is attacking at a SU best mark of .327. As a team the Cardinal is hitting .218. Karissa Cook averages the third highest mark in the Pac-12 with 10.81 assists per set (SU's 12.78 assists per set ranks third in the conference).
Defensively the Cardinal is tops in digs and ranks second in blocks in the Pac-12; the 17.63 digs per set by SU ranks 10th in the NCAA. The Cardinal has three players averaging more than 3.00 digs per set. Cook leads the way with 3.48 digs per set and Kyle Gilbert has averaged 3.19 digs per set. Hannah Benjamin also adds 3.07 digs per set. Stanford is putting up 3.17 blocks per set this season. Wopat is the top blocker with 1.63 per set. Jessica Walker is averaging just below 1.00 blocks per set with 0.96.
Colorado is 5-4 overall this season, 0-1 in the Pac-12. The Buffs are led by 2011 captain Kerra Schroeder with 4.11 kills per set, which ranks fifth in the conference. She has recorded 148 kills this season, including a season-best 26 kills against St. John's on Sept. 11. Nikki Lindow ranks second with 2.41 kills per set and Kelsey English is third with 2.10 kills per set. The Buffs are attacking at a .221 clip. Alyssa Valentine is directing the offense, averaging 10.21 assists per set (seventh in the Pac-12).
Defensively Megan Beckwith is fifth in the league with 4.50 digs per set. She has picked up 162 digs and has four matches with 20 or more digs this season. Schroeder is second with 2.53 digs per set. The Buffs rank seventh in the league with 2.28 blocks per set. Anicia Santos has put up 1.19 blocks per set to lead CU. She recorded a career-best 12 blocks in the five-set come-from-behind victory against St. John's on Sept. 11.
And don't forget to check out the latest news and highlights with coach Kritza on This Week in Colorado Volleyball, exclusively on BuffsTV at CUBuffs.com/volleyball. New shows air every Tuesday.