Buffs Work for Sweep of Baylor

Sophomore outside-hitter <b>Nicole Carr</b> had 14 kills on 28 attacks, and the University of Colorado volleyball team outperformed the visiting Baylor Bears at the net and from the service line in a 3-0; 30-22, 30-23, 30-15 sweep which was much closer than the scoreboard indicated Wednesday night at the Coors Events Conference Center.

The Buffaloes rallied from minimal deficits in each of the first two games in what amounted to be two of the hardest-fought home wins Colorado has been forced to claim all season.

Colorado overcame a slow start in game one, rallying after an ankle injury to Baylor setter and team assist leader Emily Hutson midway through while using a 14-4 run down the stretch to claim a 1-0 set lead and a final score which was altogether deceptive in how play unfolded. The Buffs totaled four aces in the opening frame, two from junior setter Allison Barnes during a late-set run that would eventually give CU a defining eight-point lead late.

CU once again had to fight for position in the start of game two, fighting the Bears for a lead during much of the opening portion of the set. Colorado actually trailed 13-12 in the game before a 6-2 Buff run headed by the front line anchored by freshman Austin Zimmerman clinched a pivotal game two victory for Colorado.

A 2-0 match lead was all that Colorado needed to gain a decided edge in momentum as the teams began the match's final game. Colorado was able to jump on the Bears early, leading by as many as 10 midway through a set which was dominated by the Buffaloes. CU used scoring runs of 5-0 and 7-0 at different times during the game to seal their fifth home sweep of an opponent this season.

"We really didn't have anything to lose coming off of (the Kansas State) match," senior captain Monique Gerlach said after the game. "I think that helped us with our confidence tonight."

Gerlach and company face a daunting task in closing the season against four Texas teams against whom they have traditionally struggled. CU will face Baylor, Texas Tech, No. 21 Texas A&M, and Texas in four of their final six games during a pivotal series against teams from the Lone Star State which will be prophetic in the Buffaloes' chances for an NCAA Tournament bid in December.

"Ever since our season began our only goal has been to make it to the Tournament," added Gerlach, whose 11 kills and 23 attacks were pivotal in CU's success Wednesday. "I think we're playing well enough right now to do that."

In a year which has seen Big 12 teams win 74.6% of their games, the Buffaloes will most likely have to claim victory in at least four of their remaining six matches to qualify for the NCAA's, which begin Dec. 4 at campus sites across the country. A postseason appearance in 2003 would be the program's first since the 2001 season when the Buffs dropped a five game decision to Colorado State in the second round after posting a sweep over American in the opening round. The Buffs haven't advanced beyond the opening weekend of the Tournament since 1997.