BOULDER— Sophomore Neira Ortiz Ruiz hammered a career-high 11 kills to lead the University of Colorado volleyball team past Cornell 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 on Friday night at the Omni Hotels Colorado Volleyball Classic.
The win moves CU to a perfect 4-0 on the season while the Big Red fell to 0-2. CU also improves to 19-8 all-time in home openers. Ortiz Ruiz led the Buffs with a .450 hitting efficiency with just two errors on 20 swings. Colorado spread out its offense and had three players, Kelsey English, Alexis Austin and Emily Alexis, with seven kills apiece. Freshman setter Nicole Edelman handed out 30 assists and directed CU to a .241 team hitting percentage.
“Neira has been steadily getting better in our gym and we have just now shared the secret with everyone else,” coach Liz Kritza said. “We have been expecting a lot more from her, because we’ve seen her develop. It’s just a matter of being able to piece her whole game together and stay on the court as long as possible. Tonight she answered the call when we needed to side out. She did a good job carrying some of the offensive burden on her shoulders. I think that her career performance will continue to be bested the further and further we get into the season.”
The Buffs also picked up points defensively as they posted 16 block assists in the win, six of those from junior Nikki Lindow. Ortiz Ruiz added three blocks and English, Austin and Alexis each had a pair.
CU also picked up 32 digs. Alexis and Elysse Richardson led CU with five each.
“I couldn’t think of a bigger impact on our team than to lose Kerra Schroeder,” Kritza said. “Not just the point-production or her digs totals or passing force; there’s a cumulative effect of everything that she does for this team. She knows that. This team knows that. What it does is affords us the opportunity for younger players to have to step up and develop. When she returns to us, we’ll have a higher-level team and she’ll be able to step in and resume her role as a leader of this team.”
Schroeder will now play a different role on the team, but still an important one. She will still be a captain, but now the floor captains will be Edelman and senior Michelle Miller.
“I’ve been in every single point since my freshman year, so it’s really tough mentally,” Schroeder said. “Right now, I feel like I can go out and play and it stinks that I can’t help my team. At the same time, I’m going to be right there on the sidelines, I’m going to travel with them, I’m going to still be that leader that they know I am at this point.”
In action earlier today, Fresno State defeated Cornell 3-0 (25-17, 25-18, 25-22). Marissa Brand recorded a match-high 13 kills for Fresno State and Korrin Wild added eight kills. Northern Arizona won a four set match against Fresno State (19-25, 25-21, 25-21, 25-21) in the late afternoon match. Kelli Dallmann hammered 21 kills for NAU and Brand recorded 17 for FS.
Fresno State is 3-2 overall and Northern Arizona is 4-0 after all of the matches on Friday.
The Omni Classic continues on Saturday at 11 a.m. CU will host NAU at 11 a.m. and the 4 p.m. match will feature Cornell against FS. The final match of the tournament will be between Fresno State and CU at 7 p.m.