HUNTSVILLE, Texas - Sophomore Kelsey English recorded 10 kills as the University of Colorado volleyball team cruised to an easy sweep of Texas Southern (25-8, 25-14, 25-8) on Friday afternoon in the first match of the Sam Houston Invitational.
"This team has been working hard to have a strong start, but it is just that, a start," CU coach Liz Kritza said.
Freshmen outside hitter Alexis Austin and setter Nicole Edelman earned their first collegiate starts in the win. Austin had a stellar debut, recording nine kills in the match and Edelman handed out 13 assists in the first set. Redshirt sophomore Ana Pantovic also saw her first action in the victory, entering in the second set, and had six kills, five digs and three block assists.
The veterans did their part as well, making it a very balanced win for CU. Senior captain Kerra Schroeder and junior Nikki Lindow each hammered eight kills and Schroeder recorded a match-high 13 digs. Lindow hit .462, but English had the match-best attack percentage at .588 with zero errors on 17 attacks (10 kills). Junior Elysse Richardson served as the libero for the first two sets and had 12 digs.
"I maintain that our success will lie in how seamlessly we combine our veteran players with our newcomers, and today was definitely a good example of that," Kritza explained.
The Buffs hit .333 for the match. Senior Michelle Miller entered the contest at the end of the first set and handed out 25 assists. CU did not hit below .300 in any of the three sets. The Buffs notched 44 kills on 99 swings and had just 11 errors. Their defense held the Tigers to a -.011 hitting percentage. TSU had just two kills in the first set and recorded only 15 kills for the entire match.
"It definitely felt good today," Miller said. "Our team looks really good out there. We've been working really hard in the offseason, so it was nice to come out with a bang. I just know that everyone here is really hard working and we are ready to show everyone what we can do this year."
Every aspect of the Buffs game went their way as they also served up 12 aces, six of which came in the first set. Schroeder had four and Edelman added three. Miller recorded a pair and Richardson, Neira Ortiz Ruiz and Nicki Brown each had one ace.
"Everyone really played their part today. The passers picked it up, the setting was great and the hitters put the ball away," English said. "The newcomers are working really hard. Whoever is working the hardest will be on the court, no matter what year they are on the team."
The Buffs got out to a quick start in the first set, thanks in part to the play of Austin who recorded four kills in the first six points. The set belonged to the Buffs from the start as they took an 11-0 lead before the Tigers got on the board. CU got the ball right back and added to its lead going up 17-3. The Buffs were able to finish it easily at 25-8.
The second game started off a little slower for CU as TSU took the early lead (6-4). At that point, the Buffs put together eight straight points to go up 12-6 and increased the lead to 19-9. Pantovic saw her first action and posted a block with Miller. Shortly after, she added two kills to bring the score to 23-9 in CU's favor. After a little attempted comeback by TSU, CU was able to finish the frame 25-14.
CU wasted little time in the third set, taking a 10-1 lead. After going up 13-5, the Buffs took the next nine points to take a 22-5 lead, which all but sealed the match. CU finished the contest with a kill from its captain, Schroeder.
"These early season matches provide us an opportunity to test lineups so we know just what we are capable of as a group. Regardless of who is out on the court, the expectation is that we sustain a high level of play," Kritza said.
The Buffs will be back in action Saturday morning at 9 a.m. MT against Louisiana. They will also play in the final match of the tournament against host Sam Houston State at 6 p.m. MT.
All of the matches will take place at Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Live stats will be available for all matches at http://sh2.sh/PBiZKn. The matches will be streamed, although a subscription is required ($8.95 for the weekend). More information on streaming is located at go.bearkats.com.