BOULDER — With the 2013 season coming to a close in December, the Colorado volleyball team with its six graduating seniors gathered one last time on January 18 to celebrate the successes of their record breaking Pac-12 season and berth to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2006.
Over the course of the fall season, the Buffs recorded an 18-14 record, including a 9-11 mark in Pac-12 Conference play. After taking first place in two nonconference tournaments at Syracuse and Baylor, the Buffs continued their success through the season by taking down three nationally ranked opponents: No. 1 Washington, No. 11 UCLA and No. 25 Arizona. These crucial wins helped advance the team to the first and second round of the NCAA Tournament where the Buffs defeated Iowa State (3-1), before playing in a five-set thriller (2-3) against No. 10 Minnesota in Minneapolis.
CU’s annual banquet was a special night that featured fellowship and dinner with the team, support staff, administration, parents, families and key donors as Colorado turned the page towards the future and another opportunity to continue the storied success of the program this coming fall. Amidst the evening of celebration, a total of sixteen awards were distributed to various Buffs for their performances both on and off the court for the 2013 season.
Recognition started coming early for the Buffs in the season, starting with CU’s first ever Pac-12 Player of the Week honor. Senior Nikki Lindow was recognized as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week in September after her performance against No. 11 UCLA. She recorded a career-high 12 blocks in the upset, which tied for the fourth best single-match high in CU history.
In the postseason, sophomore Nicole Edelman and junior Taylor Simpson both were named to the All-Pac 12 honorable mention team, while freshman Cierra Simpson earned a selection to the Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention team. Taylor Simpson was also named to the AVCA Division I All-Pacific South Region honorable mention team for her team-leading performance with 390 kills (3.61 kills per set), which ranked eighth in the league. She also averaged 4.03 points per set to rank ninth in the Pac-12.
Beyond the court, the Buffs also excelled academically with achieving a collective GPA of 2.91 over the fall semester. Senior Elysse Richardson was named to the Pac-12 All-Academic First Team for the third straight year, while Jessica Aschenbrenner, Kelsey English, Kerra Schroeder and Edelman earned honorable mention honors.
Also handed out were team awards that were voted on by the athletes and direct support staff. The Buffs named an offensive MVP and defensive MVP. Taylor Simpson was awarded the offensive honor, while Lindow took home the defensive award. The Most Improved Player recognition was awarded to Aschenbrenner and Cierra Simpson, who both drove the team’s defensive stats to success by the end of the season.
The Shoulder to Shoulder Award for most supportive teammate towards the team’s collective goals both on and off the court went to freshman Katherine Hawkins. Similarly, the annual Golden Buffalo Award that recognizes the athlete who exemplifies what it means to be a student-athlete and role model was awarded to Richardson. A new award for the 2013 season, the Heart of the Buffalo, was also given to Senior Ana Pantovic and Edelman, for their continued dedication towards the team and program as a whole.
In addition to the ample player recognitions and awards, the Colorado volleyball team also recognized its’ team of support staff. Specifically, sports medicine trainer Marissa Holliday was awarded the Volleyball Support Staff of the Year for her hard work and dedication to the team’s overall success during the 2013 season.
To close the evening, the audience heard from each senior, including Schroeder via recorded message, as she already garnered a professional contract and is currently playing in Lille, France. A highlight video recapped all the moments from the 2013 season, and head coach Liz Kritza ended the evening looking forward to an exciting 2014 season to come.