CU Volleyball Set to Begin Conference Schedule

Don't count your chickens before they hatch; as true a philosophical insight in collegiate volleyball as it is in life. And the University of Colorado volleyball team (8-2) isn't coming to any conclusions about their performance thus far this season until they play the games that really matter. The Buffs are set to open their 2003 Big 12 conference schedule Wednesday when they host the Texas Tech Red Raiders at the Coors Events Center here in Boulder.

CU will begin their regional play this year riding one of the best non-conference performances the program has seen in recent history. Since the season began on Aug. 29, Colorado has done quite a number on non-conference opposition, posting wins over the likes of Rhode Island, Central Florida, and Oregon, while the Buffs have fallen to just Penn State (11th-ranked in the country when they met CU in the Sea-Sun Invitational to open the season), and in-state rival Colorado State on Sep. 9. Additionally, the Lady Buffaloes have swept each of the three early season tournaments they have seen action in, going 8-1 in tournament play in their routs of the Sea-Sun Invitational in Orono, Maine on Aug. 31, the University of Denver Invitational on Sep. 6, and the Colorado Invitational which wrapped up Sunday afternoon with Colorado posting a 3-0 win over Villanova in the title game.

In their last game, CU did more than win their most recent conference title; they established the momentum they'll need to tackle a Big 12 conference slate that features six other nationally ranked teams: Nebraska, Kansas State, Missouri, Texas A&M, Texas and Kansas. The Buffs had a strong Sunday digging the ball while on the defensive as a whole, an area the team has struggled with at times this season. Sophomore Nicole Carr had 15 digs to go along with three solo blocks. Freshman Austin Zimmerman had nine defensive saves while junior Allison Barnes and senior Monica Vesanovic each had eight.

"Today we really out served and out passed them," CU head coach Pi'i Aiu said following her team's latest victory on Sunday. "We put them into a lot of passing trouble and that led to a bunch of our points."

Additionally, three CU players recorded double-digit kills on the afternoon. Sophomore Allie Griffin led all players with 14 kills and also had seven digs. Senior middle blocker Monique Gerlach had 12 kills and Carr had 10. Gerlach also walked away with Tournament MVP honors, the third time she's been given such an award; once in each bracket match the Buffs have participated in.

Texas Tech (8-1), meanwhile, will be coming off their first loss of the year when they travel to Boulder for tomorrow's matchup, after being swept 3-0 by New Mexico State last Wednesday. The Lady Raiders will have had a calendar week to prepare for the Buffs as well as recover from the humbling defeat they suffered in Los Cruces for the 7:00 p.m. start against the Buffs.

Until last week, undefeated Texas Tech had been enjoying a stellar season from junior outside hitter Kelly Johnson, who'd tallied a whopping team-best 195 kills (better than 5 per game) and 452 total attacks roaming the Raider perimeter. Offensively, Tech has been led by 6-0 sophomore middle blocker Katie Halley, who leads the team with a .321 serve percentage.

Colorado continues Big 12 play for the remainder of the season. Next up for the Buffs is a two-game road trip that will take the team through Lawrence to match up against Kansas on Saturday afternoon, and then south to battle Texas A&M the following Wednesday after a two-day return to Boulder.

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