DEKALB, Ill. — The University of Colorado volleyball team picked up a pair of wins against Northern Illinois and Presbyterian College on Saturday to finish the NIU Invitational 2-1.
The Buffs started the day off with a very close five-set victory against the host, NIU (26-28, 25-18, 25-20, 21-25, 15-12). After just a couple hours of rest, CU returned to the court and earned a sweep of PC (25-21, 25-20, 25-19). Taylor Simpson and Nicole Edelman were both named to the NIU Invitational All-Tournament Team for their performances in all three matches. .
The contest against NIU was back-and-fourth with both teams giving all they had on the court. Taylor Simpson led the way for the Buffs as she hammered 23 kills in the win and hit .250 with eight errors on 60 swings. She led the Buffs with six kills in the first frame and notched seven in the third set.
Joslyn Hayes and Kelsey English each added eight kills for the team, while Gabby Simpson recorded seven kills and Anna Pfefferle tallied six kills. Pfefferle hit a team-high .417 with just one error on 12 attacks. Edelman directed the Buffs to a .217 hitting percentage with 46 assists.
Defensively, the Simpson sisters combined for 38 of CU’s 64 digs. Cierra Simpson led the way with 22 digs, recording five in the second, third and fourth sets apiece. Taylor Simpson picked up 13 digs and Gabby Simpson recorded three digs. Cierra also did well serving and led CU with three aces.
The Buffs started off a little slow in the first set, falling behind 13-9, but that didn’t matter as they came back to even the score at 15-15. The two teams kept going back and forth until NIU had a 24-22 lead. CU fought off two straight set points off a NIU error and a kill from Hayes. With the score even at 24-24, the two sides traded off points. The Buffs had set point at 26-25, but the Huskies answered with three straight points to finish the set 28-26.
CU didn’t waste time in the second set and went up 13-7. Despite NIU’s attempts to get back in the game, the Buffs were able to stay ahead of the Wildcats and finished them off 25-18.
After the intermission, NIU came out of the break on a mission and took a 10-5 advantage on the Buffs in the third set. CU rallied back to even the score at 16-16 on a kill from Taylor Simpson, and after an NIU error, CU led 17-16. The Wildcats took the next point (17-17), but that was the last time the frame would be tied with Hayes recording a kill to give the Buffs back the lead (18-17). CU would finish the set with a 7-3 run (25-20).
The fourth set was another close battle for the two teams and had 11 ties and seven lead changes. Neither team had more than a two-point advantage until the Huskies went up 15-12. CU took the next point off a Taylor Simpson kill, but the Buffs couldn’t get closer than two points the rest of the set and eventually lost 25-21.
NIU went up 8-2 to start the fifth set. After the teams changed sides, the Buffs answered by taking the next six straight points, which included three kills from Taylor Simpson and one kill from Gabby Simpson. CU would take the lead from NIU at 13-12 after the Huskies recorded a service error. Another NIU error gave CU match point and Stephanie Shadley finished the match with an ace (15-12).
In the second match of the day against PC, the Buffs were again led by Taylor Simpson who recorded 13 kills. She hit .296 with five errors on 27 swings. Pfefferle and Hayes each recorded eight kills and Neira Ortiz Ruiz added six kills for the Buffs. Pfefferle was on fire in the match, hitting an impressive .727 with no errors on 11 attacks.
The team as a whole recorded a .333 hitting percentage with 40 kills. Edelman handed out 32 assists and added two kills herself. The Buffs held PC to a .151 hitting percentage.
CU picked up 32 digs in the win and posted 11 total blocks. Taylor Simpson collected 11 digs and added a block assist, while Cierra Simpson recorded seven digs. Rachel Hargis led the Buffs at the net with three blocks, one solo and two assists. Hayes and Ortiz Ruiz each had two block solos and Gabby Simpson had one block solo and one block assist.
The first set was very close in the beginning. After a 10-10 tie, the Buffs pulled away from PC using a 4-0 run. The Blue Hose tried to keep with the Buffs, but weren’t able to keep pace. CU continued to attack and went on to finish the set 25-21. Simpson had the hot hand in the set, recording seven of CU’s 12 kills.
The second set started off the same way and was a little closer with nine ties and four lead changes. CU was down 15-14, but after a pair of kills from Taylor Simpson, the Buffs took a 16-15 lead and wouldn’t look back as they finished the set 25-20. Pfefferle didn’t have a kill in the first set, but came alive in the second set with five kills and no errors on six attacks.
Set three saw the Buffs taking a 14-10 lead, before PC got back within a point at 14-13. After a quick CU timeout, the Buffs took the next four points (18-13), which included kills from Hayes and Pfefferle, as well as two PC errors. CU kept attacking and went on to close out the set and match 25-19.
The Buffs return to Boulder to open the home portion of their schedule with the Omni Hotels Colorado Volleyball Classic, Sept. 5-6, at the Coors Events Center. The Buffs will host Portland State, Georgia Southern and Pittsburgh. Season tickets are on sale and start at just $25. Children 12 and under receive free admission to the matches.