Just six weeks into the Colorado Buffaloes Women’s Volleyball season, head coach Jesse Mahoney and his team have already exceeded expectations.
Up until Sept. 22, the Buffs had gone undefeated. With a loss at Washington State, Colorado traveled back home to Boulder to take on the No. 15 ranked Utah Utes. The most impressive showing of the season thus far, the Buffs swept the Utes in three sets (25-15, 25-17, 25-23).
Since that sweet, the Buffs went 1-3 against tough conference competition. They dropped matches at home to No. 11 Oregon and on the road against No. 16 UCLA and USC.
Now sporting an 11-4 record, the Buffs are currently ranked No. 24 in the nation while playing in one of, if not the best, volleyball conference in the country. They’re likely to drop after last weeks losses in Southern California but it doesn’t change the fact that this team is on the rise in a brutal conference. The Pac-12 alone has four other schools in the NCAA DI rankings, No. 14 Oregon, No. 15 Utah, No. 16 UCLA, and No. 17 Stanford.
However, the season hasn’t just been smooth sailing. Early in October, Mahoney shared news that senior outside hitter and libero Zoe Neverdowski was out 4-6 weeks with injury. Neverdowski appeared in every match prior to the announcement.
Even more shockingly was the announcement that graduate student and outside hitter Leah Clayton was suspended indefinitely. Clayton, the teams leading hitter, was taken off the roster last week. Besides sharing that she violated team rules, Mahoney made no other comment.
The loss of two upperclassmen opens opportunity for some younger athletes, including sophomore defensive specialist Morgan Riddle and freshman outside hitter Jahara Campbell. Riddle has done a fantastic job at filling in as a defender where Neverdowski previously played, and Campbell has a strong arm that could potentially help with the loss of Clayton.
Even without some of their best players, the Buffs have shown that they are still capable of winning quality matches and working together as a team to overcome challenges. Although a new lineup can be difficult to adjust to, Colorado did so seamlessly with a sweep over Oregon State with just a few days of practice after the changes.
Nonetheless, Colorado has shown their true potential as a top volleyball school in the west. With a successful pandemic season last year, the Buffs continue to grab attention of volleyball fans nationwide as they shock top competitors, and hopefully they continue that trend through the rest of the season.