LOS ANGELES- Freshman Alexis Austin hammered 12 kills but it wasn't enough as the University of Colorado volleyball team fell 3-0 (25-20, 25-16, 26-24) to the sixth-ranked UCLA Bruins on Friday night at the John Wooden Center.
This was the seventh match in a row that Austin led Colorado in kills and she was the only Buff who was in double-digits. Neira Ortiz Ruiz was second on the team with seven kills while Nicole Edelman, Nikki Lindow and Ana Pantovic each added four kills in the effort. CU had 34 kills as a team, but committed 22 errors on 97 swings to hit .124.
UCLA's Tabi Love recorded a match-high 14 kills and Rachael Kidder had 13 kills for the Bruins. UCLA hit .317 with 46 kills and just 14 errors on 101 attacks. Zoe Nightingale put up seven blocks on the Buffs with three solo and four assists.
"Our young group learned a valuable lesson tonight, that when you play a high-level team that is more than capable of scoring points on their own, we cannot give away point on unforced errors," coach Liz Kritza said. "When we were executing our game strategy and keeping our ball control intact we were able to keep pace and score at the proper clip, but we simply must play a cleaner game to combat these momentum swings."
Defensively the Buffs had 36 digs compared to UCLA's 35. Freshman Chelsey Keoho picked up a match-best 16 digs. Edelman had the second most digs for the Buffs with five.
The Buffs are now 13-8 on the season, 3-6 in the Pac-12. UCLA improved to 14-4 overall, 6-3 in the conference.
"With a team as young as ours, we need to continue progressing with each match we play and tonight we made some good progress, but unfortunately it was not enough against one of the top teams in the country," Kritza said. "We must now take the improvements from tonight's match and refocus and prepare for another high level Pac-12 road match at USC."
UCLA took a 16-10 lead in the first set, forcing the Buffs to use their first timeout of the match. Out of the timeout, the Buffs went on a 4-1 run to get within three points (17-14) and this time it was the Bruins that called a timeout. Out of the timeout, UCLA recorded three straight points (20-14). Kritza called a timeout to try to slow down UCLA and the Buffs rallied with a 5-2 run to get within three points at 22-19. UCLA took the ball back and finished the set 25-20.
The Bruins had a 7-6 lead in the second set before the Buffs put together a 4-0 run to take a 10-7 advantage. The Buffs had the lead at 12-10 when UCLA used a 4-0 run to retake the lead at 14-12, causing Kritza to call a timeout. The Buffs took the following point off a kill from Edelman, but then the Bruins scored the next five straight to force CU to spend its final timeout of the set (19-13). The Buffs were not able to get their offence back on track as UCLA took six of the next nine points to close the set 25-16.
UCLA took a 9-6 lead to start the third set, but the Buffs came back to even the score at 10-10. CU took the lead at 12-11 and increased the advantage to 16-13. The Bruins fought back to tie it back up at 17-17, forcing the Buffs to call timeout. UCLA took the next point, but then the Buffs came back with three consecutive points to take a 20-18 lead and this time it was the Bruins that needed a timeout. UCLA took three straight (21-20), but the Buffs fired back with three of their own to go back on top 23-21. CU had set point at 24-22, but UCLA scored the next four points to win the set and the match 26-24.
The Buffs will stay in L.A. for a match on Sunday, Oct. 21 against No. 7 USC at 12 p.m. MT. The match will be broadcast live on the Pac-12 Network. Anne Marie Anderson will provide the play-by-play and Holly McPeak will serve as the color.