BOULDER - Freshman Alexis Austin recorded a team-high eight kills, and sophomores Kelsey English and Ana Pantovic each added seven kills, however the No. 3 nationally ranked Oregon Ducks pulled away in each game to defeat the University of Colorado Buffaloes volleyball team, 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-23), Friday evening at the Coors Events Center on Breast Cancer Awareness Night.
The Buffs wore pink in support of the fight against breast cancer and were joined on the sideline with former CU volunteer assistant coach Kim Jagd, a breast cancer survivor, as their honorary assistant coach.
CU playing its third straight match against a nationally ranked opponent, all from the nation's top-10, falls to 13-10 overall and to 3-8 in Pac-12 Conference play. Oregon, winners of five straight, improved to 19-1 and 10-1 in the conference.
"I think that other than the score of the third set, the overall result doesn't reflect the progress that we've made," coach Liz Kritza said. "Clearly, it's not enough; this is a team and a group of coaches that will not be satisfied until we are playing the level of consistency where we can be the team that is that good."
Friday night's contest between the two schools was the second meeting this year with OU also taking an earlier match up, 3-0 on Sept. 29. The Ducks lead the head-to-head series, 6-2.
"The firepower is one thing, but the balance in their offense is the really difficult thing to deal with," Kritza explained. "They don't just have one big hitter that can score well, they have three. On any given night, if you can stop two of them, you can be successful. It's very hard to stop two at a time."
The match was a lot closer than the final score indicated as the Buffs dueled with their nationally ranked opponent in game one to an 11-11 tie, until the Ducks went on a 6-0 run for 17-11 lead. Oregon countered with 17 kills to CU's 12 en route to a 25-16 game one win. English and Austin each had four kills apiece, while the visitors countered with a .469 hitting percentage.
In game two, CU jumped ahead 7-3, however the visitors rallied and eventually evened the game at 10. UO successfully went on a pair of three-point runs to inch ahead, then put the game away with a 5-0 run pushing their advantage to 23-16. They would go on to claim victory and holding a commanding 2-0 lead.
After the intermission, CU played catch-up early-on trailing 4-1. The home team narrowed its deficit to 6-5, then to 11-8. After a CU timeout, the Ducks again pushed ahead with a little run of their own racing out to a 15-10 advantage.
CU would not fold, battling back from another deficit (trailing 20-14) until an English kill sparked the comeback as the Buffs countered. CU engineered a three-point run narrowing its deficit 21-18. A long rally that subsequently went to CU and a home block sparked the 700 crowd in attendance into a 21-21 tie.
Oregon would go on to tally four of the game's next six points for the 25-23 victory.
"I'm not going to take anything away from my kids; I think they came back and showed great determination to this team," Kritza said. "They very easily could have just laid down in that third set, so we are just going to take those positives and move forward. We have another tough opponent coming in, and we want to improve our performance to get the result that we want, which is a win."
The Ducks were led by Alaina Bergsma and Ariana Williams with 11 kills each. Liz Brenner added 10 kills, while Lauren Plum handed out 39 assists for the Ducks.
CU also received six kills from sophomore Neira Ortiz Ruiz and freshman Nicole Edelman had 23 assists and 11 digs to lead CU.
The Buffs will be back at home on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 1 p.m. against Oregon State. Fans are encouraged to bring their children in costume to "Trick-or-Treat Street" from 12-1 p.m. prior to the match and will receive free admission. The match will also be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.