BOULDER—Senior Nikki Lindow surpassed the 400 career blocks and sophomore Nicole Edelman 2,000 career assists milestones as the University of Colorado volleyball team snap a five-match losing streak by sweeping the Oregon State Beavers (28-26, 25-21, 25-20) Friday night here at the Coors Events Center.
“I’m glad we were not only able to come up with the victory but that we did it in three sets,” CU head coach Liz Kritz said. “We had a little gut-check coming off the last swing with the Arizona schools. There were some lulls in play tonight, I talked about it with them in the huddle, I asked them if we were sharp, and they responded ‘we were sharp-ish.’ They recognize that there is still a better level this team can play at.”
The Buffs improve to 16-11 overall and 8-9 in the Pac-12 while OSU falls to 9-19 and 0-17, respectively. CU is now 6-2 in league matches at the Coors Events Center.
“We love this place,” Lindow said. “We are warriors for this place. Cal and Stanford were frustrating for us, but we are going to bring full intensity to every game, especially at home. We have major pride for this place, especially for me as a senior.”
Lindow had three blocks on the night and now has 401 in her career. She trails only Meaghan Barkman (565), Alison Koepke (441) and Lisa Soullier (412) in the CU record book. Edelman dished out 39 assists in the match and now has 2,001 in her career, becoming the seventh CU player to hit that milestone.
“I am more than excited about getting to 400 blocks,” Lindow said. “Blocking is a big part of my game and it’s a momentum changer when we get them.”
Lindow’s first block of the match was the biggest, coming as part of an amazing comeback in the first game. The Buffs staved off a quadruple set-point from the Beavers, down 24-21 and rallied to win 28-26. Junior Kelsey English sparked that run and her kill made it 24-22.
“When we get in those tight situations, there’s an eerie, calm confidence with this bunch,” Krizta explained. “There have been a lot of sets this year where we have come from behind and I think having done that gives these kids some confidence. They are able to play those tight points.”
Lindow then teamed with sophomore Alexis Austin to block OSU’s Amanda Brown to make it 24-23. A Lindow kill made tied it 24-24 and then an Austin kill put the Buffs up for the first time since a 6-5 lead early in the game. Austin put the Buffs up 26-25 and after an OSU kill, the Buffs put the first set away with kills from senior Kerra Schroeder and Taylor Simpson.
“It was good to see our team come back and take that first set,” Kritza said. “Every team, even as part of a great season, has challenges and we’ve had some lately. I’m really proud of this group. We had a gut-check coming off the road with our last swing at the Arizona schools.”
The Buffs then took control early in the second set, building early 5-1 and 8-2 leads before Oregon State bounced back to tie the set at 10-10. It was then a back-and-forth set and after it was tied 18-18, the Buffs scored seven of the final 10 points of the game to win, 25-21. English again sparked the final run, first with a kill to make it 19-18 and then a block on the next play to open up a 20-18 lead. The Buffs reeled off three straight kills, two from Austin and one from Lindow, all assisted by Edelman, to close out the second set and take a 2-0 advantage.
Senior Elysse Richardson sparked an early run in the third set, serving five straight points with a pair of service aces in there as the Buffs opened up an 8-3 lead. Oregon State pulled within 10-8 midway through the game before CU opened up a 16-9 lead after an English ace. The Beavers made one more run, pulling within 16-14 before the Buffs responded with a 6-2 run to open up a 22-16 lead and hung on for a 25-20 win and sweep in the match.
Austin led the Buffs with 13 kills while hitting .333 and junior Taylor Simpson added 10 kills to go with her five digs and three blocks. Aside from Lindow’s three blocks, she had six kills with no errors while hitting .429. English also hit well, .545, with seven kills on just 11 attacks. Edelman made good on three of five dump attempts to hit .600 to go with her 39 assists and Richardson led the way with 11 digs defensively.
The win was ever critical in the Buffs race to earn an NCAA Tournament berth, which if accomplished would be the program’s first since 2006. At 8-9, the Buffs are now in sole possession of seventh place in the league standings after Oregon (9-8) defeated Utah (7-10) Friday night. Arizona sits at 9-7 in the standings and plays at No. 5 USC Friday. If the Trojans wins, Oregon and Arizona would be tied for fifth place, just one match ahead of the Buffs.
“The caveat with all the tournament talk is not to get ahead of yourselves,” Kritza said. “The only thing we could do tonight was beat Oregon State. The next thing we can do is beat Oregon at home. We have to keep ourselves focused on that match, we have a lot of work left to make certain we are one of the teams from the Pac-12 that’s included in the 64-team field.”
The Buffs will look to pull even with the Ducks on Sunday as the two square-off at the Coors Events Center, with first serve set for 11 a.m. on the Pac-12 Networks.
“Oregon is a very accomplished team,” Krizta said. “They have a lot of weapons and one of the most accomplished players and athletes in Liz Brenner, who has been putting up some fantastic performances against some good opponents this year.”