Colorado native Liz Kritza was named the fourth head volleyball coach in University of Colorado history on February 10, 2009 and is in her seventh year at the helm of the program.
Kritza has been growing the CU program since arriving on campus in 2009 and the last two seasons have helped put the Buffs back into the national spotlight. CU posted a 20-14 overall record in 2014 and tied for fourth in the Pac-12 Conference (11-9), its highest finish since joining the league. It was the first time since 2003 that the Buffs had tallied 20 or more victories in a season.
The Buffs returned to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight season under Kritza’s guidance; and advanced to the second round. CU tallied five wins against ranked opponents for the first time during the regular season, which included three wins on the road.
Colorado was ranked in the last six polls of the season. After several weeks of receiving votes in the AVCA Coaches Poll, the Buffs broke into the rankings at No. 21 after a pair of victories over No. 15 Arizona and No. 19 Arizona State on the road. They were as high as 18th during the season and finished the year at No. 21.
The awards came in as well during the season. Senior Taylor Simpson earned CU’s first two Pac-12 Offensive and ESPNW Player of the Week honors. She was named CU’s first AVCA First Team All-American after earning AVCA All-Pacific South Region honors. Simpson was also selected to the All-Pac-12 team with junior Alexis Austin. Anna Pfefferle and Gabby Simpson were both selected to the Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention team.
Records also fell in 2014. Taylor Simpson set the single season kills record with 591 kills and sophomore Cierra Simpson broke CU’s single season digs record with 519 digs.
The 2013 season saw Kritza returning the Buffs to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. CU advanced to the second round of the tournament after defeating former Big 8/12 opponent Iowa State 3-1 in the first round. CU fell in the second round to No. 10 Minnesota, 3-2, in a closely fought match in Minneapolis on the Gophers’ home court.
The Buffs finished 2013 with an 18-14 record, and tied for seventh in the Pac-12 (9-11). During the season, CU knocked off three top-25 ranked opponents in No.1 Washington, No. 11 UCLA and No. 25 Arizona. The win against the Huskies was the second time in CU history the Buffs had taken down a top-ranked opponent. All three of those wins came at the Coors Events Center where the Buffs finished with an 8-4 record.
The individual accolades also came in 2013 as junior Taylor Simpson was named to the AVCA All-Pacific South honorable mention team. Simpson, along with sophomore Nicole Edelman, were named to the All-Pac-12 honorable mention team and Cierra Simpson was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman honorable mention team. During the season, senior Nikki Lindow earned CU’s first Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week honor after posting a career-high 12 blocks in the win against UCLA, which tied for fourth all-time in CU history.
Kritza came to CU after a very successful four-year stint at Tulane, where she led the Green Wave to an overall record of 76-39 and a Conference USA record of 41-21. Under Kritza’s watch, the Green Wave won its first conference championship in 2008 and tied a C-USA record with 15 wins. Tulane earned its first berth to the NCAA Tournament after winning both the C-USA regular season and tournament championships. Tulane advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament after defeating Tennessee Tech in four sets but fell to Western Michigan in the second round.
In 2007 and 08, Kritza was named the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s (AVCA) Midwest Region Coach of the Year after guiding Tulane to 28-6 record both years. The Green Wave recorded its first win over a ranked team in over a decade by defeating then-14th-ranked Middle Tennessee in five sets in 2008. In the process, Tulane also set a school record with 17 straight victories and increased the program’s home winning streak to 24 straight at Fogelman Arena.
The 2008 season also brought other recognition to Kritza. She was named the C-USA Co-Coach of the Year and the Louisiana Sports Writers Association Coach of the Year, both for the second straight season.
Kritza took the over the reins of the Green Wave program in 2005 and had played just one match before Hurricane Katrina hit. The team had to relocate to College Station, Texas, and had to cancel 10 non-conference matches due to the pending arrival of Hurricane Rita. Despite finishing with a 3-15 overall record, the Green Wave got it together at the C-USA Tournament and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since the 1997 season.
Under her tutelage, Kritza had four players earn eight AVCA All-America honors. Three athletes were also named the AVCA Midwest Freshmen of the Year. Sara Radosevic, who was named an All-American all four years, was the first Tulane volleyball player to be named the C-USA Player of the Year in 2008.
Kritza became the seventh head coach at Tulane in 2005. She served as the top assistant/recruiting coordinator from 2001-04. Kritza was a volunteer assistant for one season (2000) and served as a student assistant (1999) after completing her eligibility.
As a player for the Green Wave, Kritza led C-USA as a junior with 1.41 blocks per game. That season she set a single-season school record with 154 block assists and led the team to its first C-USA semi-final appearance. Kritza was voted the team captain as a senior and led the Green Wave once again with 121 blocks. She finished her career at TU ranking fifth in blocks (319) and eighth in hitting percentage (.222).
Kritza graduated from Tulane in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and cell biology and is pursuing a master’s in business administration.
Kritza was born in Colorado Springs and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1995. Her brother, Ted, played on the CU basketball team for two seasons from 1994-96 before transferring to Tulane.
Kritza’s Head Coaching Ledger