Volleyball Faces Conference Test in Lincoln

The University of Colorado volleyball team (10-4 overall; 2-2 Big 12) will face arguably its biggest test of the regular season when they travel to face No. 7 Nebraska (12-1; 4-0) in Lincoln Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Here is a match preview.

Despite a non-conference start to the season that saw Colorado win six of their first seven matches, the Buffs have hit the skids since opening their Big 12 conference schedule on Sep. 17. After an impressive win over Texas Tech to open conference play, CU has lost two of its last three Big 12 games, 3-0 to Kansas and 3-2 to No.25 Texas A&M, both of which were on the road. Colorado rebounded in an impressive 3-1 win over Iowa State when they returned to Boulder Saturday night. Sophomore middle hitter Allie Griffin had a match-high 21 kills while hitting better than a 47% serve percentage while maintaining just four errors.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are ranked seventh in the latest USA Today/American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, helped by a 12-1 overall and so far flawless 4-0 conference record. Nebraska's sole loss came to then No. 10 Georgia Tech 3-2 on Sep. 14. The GT match aside, the Lady Cornhuskers have dropped only four of their last 12 matches.

Because of their early season performance, the Huskers are on the top of the Big 12 looking down, but not by much. Though Nebraska has the current outright conference lead going into Wednesday's matchup against CU, both Kansas State and Missouri are within a single conference victory of Nebraska, and three other teams are within an additional half game of that. Colorado and Baylor sit two games back of NU, while Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Iowa State have yet to win a conference game.

Having had an opportunity to see how the Big 12 has played out early in this conference season, CU's relatively positive play thus far this season raises questions to just how much Colorado has accomplished. The Buffaloes' two conference losses thus far have come against a pair of teams with a combined record of 2-5, though both Iowa State and Kansas looked like formidable foes at the time. Meanwhile, Colorado's conference losses, though closely contested, came against teams which have earned a combined 3-5 mark on the year. Altogether, Big 12 teams have combined for an 84-29 overall record on the season.

While they may have not made a noticeable impact on the Big 12 in the win-loss columns, several Buffaloes have made their mark in individual statistical areas. CU senior middle blocker Monique Gerlach holds a top 10 conference rank in both hitting percentage (.365; second in Big 12), and kills (3.78 per game; tenth in Big 12). The captain and four-year starter also ranks on top 10 lists of several program history categories, including kills (1,240; fifth in CU history), attacks (2,583; tenth in CU history), total blocks (300; sixth in CU history), and is the career program leader in attack percentage (.336).

Following Wednesday's game, Colorado returns to Boulder for a matchup against Texas (7-5; 2-1) on Oct. 4, and then travel to Texas for the first time this season when they match up against Baylor (9-7; 2-2) on Oct. 11.

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