BOULDER- Junior Nikki Lindow posted a career-high 10 blocks to help the University of Colorado volleyball team come-from-behind to defeat Arizona State 3-2 (17-25, 17-25, 25-18, 25-21, 15-9) on Friday night in front of a season-best crowd of 3,117 at the Coors Events Center.
CU earned its third Pac-12 Conference win of the season to improve to 3-4 overall in league play and is 13-6 overall. The Sun Devils dropped to 13-7 overall, 2-5 in the Pac-12. The Buffs have had good luck in matches this year that have gone five sets as they are 5-1 this year.
After the first two sets, it looked like the Buffs wouldn't be playing past a third set, but CU came out of the intermission fired up and it showed as they out-hit ASU in the final three sets to win the match.
"I basically just challenged this team (at intermission) and said that they (ASU) were ahead of us by five kills," coach Liz Kritza said. "The difference was so small, but our team was so frustrated because we knew that we were missing tons of opportunities. I just reminded them that the differences that they needed to make were really small. I told them to just stop giving points away. When we play a very clean, disciplined game, and don't give away points, then we are a tough team. If we have a couple good plays and then give two or three away, then we are going to have the results that we had in the first two sets."
"Tonight, we were struggling in the first and second sets a lot, and the feeling on the court was not bad," Lindow said. "It was just frustration, because we were swinging so hard, we were really swinging for hands and making shots; we were just missing points."
Alexis Austin led the Buffs with 16 kills and Ana Pantovic hammered a career-high 11 kills in the win. She hit a team-high .474 with just two errors on 19 attacks. Emily Alexis, who came in off the bench during the second set, notched 10 kills on 26 errorless swings to hit .385. Nicole Edelman handed out a career-high 53 assists.
Defensively the Buffs picked up 63 digs, three more than ASU (60). Chelsey Keoho recorded a career-high 21 digs in the win. All 11 Buffs who played in the match had at least one dig in the victory. The team also did well at the net, posting 13.0 team blocks. Behind Lindow's 10, Edelman was second on the team with five block assists. Alexis added four block assists and Kelsey English and Pantovic each put up three block assists.
The crowd grew larger at the end of the match, partly in due to Buffs Madness for the CU men's and women's basketball teams. But it was a great atmosphere for the volleyball team.
"The support from people who are new to the sport or new to watching us is really good," Kritza said. "It's more exciting, there's good energy, there's a good buzz, and it's great. I think it's a huge opportunity. This is a cross-promoted event, and clearly basketball has been so successful lately. I wish them the best. It's a really great event for our entire athletics program. I mean the camaraderie that exists and the support that we can give them, that they can give us, is exactly what collegiate athletics is about. I'm pleased to be part of it."
The Sun Devils took a 17-7 lead in the first set, but the Buffs fought to get back in the frame and took five straight points off of Edelman's serve to bring the score to 17-12. The two teams traded off the next two points before the Sun Devils strung together a 6-0 run to take a 24-13 advantage. The Buffs fought off the next four set points, forcing ASU to take a timeout at 24-17. The Sun Devils won the set on the following point (25-17).
ASU took the early lead in the second set, going up 11-6. The Buffs started to chip away at lead and got within three at 13-16. The Sun Devils took the next two points, but CU answered back with a pair of its own to stay within three (15-18). ASU took the next two points, causing the Buffs to call a timeout. The Sun Devils came out of the break with a 5-2 run to finish the set 25-17.
CU fell behind 5-7 to start the third set, but recorded a 6-1 run to go up 11-8. After an ASU timeout, the Buffs added two more to its total (13-8) before the Sun Devils sided out. CU took the following three points to extend its lead to 16-9, forcing ASU to use its final timeout of the set. The Buffs were up 19-12 when the Sun Devils took three in a row, and then it was CU's turn to use a timeout. After the break, CU recorded a 6-3 run to close out the set 25-18.
The Buffs had an early 4-1 lead, but the Sun Devils came back to tie the set at 5-5 and went up 10-8. CU put together a 5-0 run to take a 13-10 lead. ASU tried to slow down the Buffs by using a timeout, but CU added two more points to the score before ASU got the ball back (15-11). The Sun Devils rallied back to get within a point of CU at 19-18 and this time CU called a timeout. ASU used a 3-1 run to go ahead of the Buffs 21-20, but CU came back to finish the set with four straight points (25-21) and forced a fifth set.
CU took an 8-6 lead in the fifth set and increased it to 10-7. ASU used its first timeout and recorded a 2-1 run to get within two at 11-9, at which point the Buffs called their first timeout of the set. CU took the next two points (13-9) and the Sun Devils used their final timeout of the match. The Buffs finished the set with two straight points to win the match (15-9).
Colorado is back on the court on Sunday, Oct. 14 against Arizona at 5 p.m. The match will be broadcast nationally on the Pac-12 Network and is also sponsored by State Farm. Check with your local State Farm agent for free tickets. Fans are encouraged to wear white for a 'white out' and 1,000 Colorado Volleyball t-shirts will be handed out to the first fans through the doors.