The No. 21 Washington volleyball team was faced with yet another injury to its lineup as redshirt freshman Audra Wilmes was seen on the sidelines ahead of the match against Colorado Friday evening.
The injuries to their roster, combined with a handful of offensive mistakes, put the Huskies in a difficult position to come out successful as they lost to the Buffaloes, 3-0.
“There were some uncharacteristic performances which were hard to overcome,” head coach Keegan Cook said. “There were some moments that I thought our defensive intensity was better, but that’s obviously lost in the result, which is hard.”
Set one included a slow start for Washington as Colorado came out strong off the bat with a kill by middle blocker Meegan Hart, and then back-to-back service aces.
Hart, who currently leads the conference in hitting, continued to put pressure on the Huskies (18-9, 10-5 Pac-12) throughout the set with an astounding six kills and a block assist.
“[Colorado] passes so well that they put a lot of pressure on us in those situations,” Cook said. “Between [Hart] and the two outside hitters, they were outstanding.”
After the Colorado defense blocked an attack by sophomore middle blocker Sophie Summers, Colorado jumped ahead 17-13, and the Huskies opted to stop the game with a timeout.
Sophomore outside hitter Emoni Bush came back from the timeout with a kill, but the Buffs (18-9, 10-7 Pac-12) responded well and went on to score three unanswered points.
The Huskies retaliated with a few kills by senior outside hitter Claire Hoffman and an ace by sophomore libero Lauren Bays, but back-to-back kills and a block by Hart brought the score to 24-21, giving the Buffs the set point, and, ultimately, a 25-21 set win.
To start the second set, the teams were neck and neck, taking turns swapping the lead and scoring momentum.
After a play was challenged and reversed in favor of Colorado, the teams remained tied at 13 apiece.
Washington returned to the court and swayed the momentum in its favor with kills by Summers and Bush, opening a lead that the Huskies kept for most of the set.
After the media timeout, UW kept rolling and scored three in a row, making the score 18-14.
The Buffs responded, however, with a serve that Bays struggled to dig out and a couple of attacks that made their way to the floor.
After trailing for most of the set, Colorado passed the Huskies with three consecutive points, including a service ace by outside hitter Maya Tabron.
The Huskies brought it back to a tie after putting up a block to deny Colorado outside hitter Lexi Hadrych, but Hart finished things off for Colorado with a kill and an ace, winning the set 26-24.
In the third set, Washington struggled to protect against the Buffs, and the energy in the arena began to decline.
The Colorado offense was led by Tabron, who earned two points and a service ace before Washington called a timeout, trailing 7-2.
Washington started to show signs of life after trailing 18-9, when the team, led by Summers who put up a block and a kill, went on to score three consecutive points.
The Washington offense continued to put up a fight and improve its attacking, bringing the match to 23-19 after scoring four unanswered points.
Senior outside hitter Shannon Crenshaw sent a serve out of bounds, bringing the set to 24-19.
The Huskies fought off the first set point with a kill by senior outside hitter Marin Grote, but the Buffs were able to finish off the set and the match victorious. The Buffs won set three, 25-20.
The Huskies were missing a big piece of their lineup Friday night with Wilmes on the sidelines due to an ankle injury. Cook and the Huskies are hopeful that she will return to play in the near future.
“It’s certainly not ideal at this stage in the season,” Cook said. “Usually, at this point, you’re really comfortable in your patterns and formations, and, so, us having to change again created just that little bit of miscommunication serve-receiving against a great serving team like Colorado.”
Another player on the Washington team affected by injury this season is Bush, who in her second match since returning from her ankle injury, recorded eight kills, but only hit 0.038.
“Whether it’s physically or mentally, she’s not quite where she left off,” Cook said. “But, she’s better than she was a week ago…”
Washington looks to clean up its offense in preparation of hosting Utah Sunday night. The match is set for Sunday, Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. at Alaska Airlines Arena.
Reach reporter Madison Rockwell at email@example.com. Twitter: @madisonroc18
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