BALTIMORE, Md. -University of Colorado volleyball coach Liz Kritza won her 100th career match as the Buffs defeated UMBC 3-2 (25-17, 21-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-6) on Friday night at the Maddie Bingaman Memorial Tournament.
CU is now 5-2 on the year while UMBC fell to 3-8. This is the second straight road win for the Buffs this season as they already defeated Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas in the first week of the season.
"Despite the season being so young, it seems that we have already faced a number of challenges and tonight was another one," Kritza said. "We ran into a feisty team who was playing some of their best volleyball of the season as part of a big promotion to start of their home campaign. That team tonight played much stronger than their record indicates.
"A road win to start off this tournament is always good and with every match these young players learn something new about themselves and what it will take for them to be successful consistently."
Freshman Alexis Austin led the Buffs with 16 kills, tying a career-high, and hit .250. Fellow sophomore outside hitter Emily Alexis added 12 kills for the Buffs and hit .370.
The middles did an outstanding job for the Buffs as sophomore Kelsey English recorded a career-high 15 kills and hit a season-best .483 and, while junior Nikki Lindow notched 12 kills while hitting .478. English and Lindow combined for 27 kills and 52 attacks. They each had just one hitting error and their combined hitting efficiency was an impressive .480.
"Our middle offense tonight was the key to our success, and when we were able to run our offense at full speed, we were scoring at the proper level," Kritza said. "Our out of system offense was not very efficient tonight and thus we played more sets than we cared to."
The Buffs recorded a season-best 67 kills and hit .278 in the match. Freshman Nicole Edelman handed out 52 assists, just one shy of her career-best. She also played a crucial part defensively for CU as she picked up a match-high 15 digs. Junior Elysse Richardson tied Edelman's match-best with 15 digs of her own. She also contributed six assists.
"Edelman handled herself with poise again as she led this team through this battle tonight," Kritza said. "Along with the strong court presence and leadership, she picked it up on the defensive end as well and came away with a match-high digs. Alexis Austin came away with match high kills again tonight and continues to contribute a great deal in her first year."
The Buffs got out to a 12-7 lead in the first set before the Retrievers got within two points at 15-13. After a CU timeout, the Buffs put together a 7-3 run to go up 22-16. UMBC took the next point, but the Buffs wrapped up the set by taking the next three straight points, winning 25-17.
UMBC took a 7-2 lead to start the frame, but the Buffs rallied back with a 6-0 run to take an 8-7 lead. The Retrievers answered CU's run with a 6-2 run, taking a three point advantage at 13-10. The Buffs tied the score again at 14-14 and the set would be tied four more times before UMBC would go up 21-18, forcing CU to use its final timeout. The Buffs tried to get back into the set, but fell 25-21.
CU took a 7-3 lead in the third set and increased it to 11-6. UMBC chipped away at the Buffs' lead and got within a point at 17-16, forcing the Buffs to take a timeout. The Retrievers took seven of the next eight points to go ahead 20-18. Just like earlier in the set, CU came storming back and put together five in a row to retake the lead at 23-20. CU fought off a UMBC rally and won the set 25-23.
The fourth set started off very close and neither team had a lead larger than two points until UMBC took a 19-16 lead late in the game. The Retrievers extended it to 23-18, causing Kritza to use her second timeout of the set. The Buffs took two of the next three points, but UMBC closed the set 25-20 to force the fifth set.
The Buffs got out to a 6-3 lead in the fifth set and UMBC immediately called a timeout. CU took the next two points and again UMBC called a timeout. After the side change, the Buffs kept the momentum with them, taking the next point before UMBC sided out. After two points for the Retrievers, the Buffs added two more to their score to go up 11-5. UMBC recorded its final point of the match on the next point and then CU finished the set and the match 15-6.
The Buffs have a pair of matches on Saturday, starting at 8 a.m. ET against Howard. They will return to the court at 2 p.m. ET to square off against Robert Morris to finish the tournament.