BLOCK – Colorado volleyball will take its undefeated record to Champaign, Ill. This weekend for the annual Pac-12 / BIG TEN challenge featuring the Buffs, No.11 from Washington, Iowa and the host school of the ‘Illinois.
The Buffs have just finished a 2-0 weekend at the Charlotte Invitational to start the season and are led by Pac-12 offensive player of the week. Lea Clayton who placed fifth in the nation in kills per set. CU faces Iowa (0-2) on Friday at 3:00 p.m. MT before facing Illini (3-0) on Saturday at 1:00 p.m.
Clayton had an explosive start to the season, leading the conference in kills and points per set. She is fifth in the country in kills per set at 5.29 and seventh in points per set at 5.93. She is joined in the NCAA Top-10 by Jenna ewert which ranks ninth domestically in assists per set at 12.14, while the team is ranked seventh domestically in assists and assists per set.
Colorado will rely on their offense to get them through this test as they hit .294 this season and average 15.43 kills per set. Defense was also strong, allowing opponents to hit just 0.173 with 2.57 blocks per set. The two Brynna De Luzio and Meegan hart are in the top 10 of the Pac-12 in digs and blocks, respectfully, and the seniors will have a big role this weekend in staying tough against powerful BIG TEN opponents.
Both matches will be broadcast live on BIG TEN Plus. CU is heading home next weekend to host the 2021 Buffs Invitational against Texas Tech, San Jose State and Northern Colorado.
Illinois won the Panther Invite to open their season, beating UC-Santa Barbara in five sets before sweeping host Milwaukee and Valparaiso. Illinois deals with Washington the day before at 8 p.m. and then faces CU who have won three of the last four games against the team, including sweeping them to Iowa in 2019 when they were ranked fifth in the country.
Illinois hits 0.191 as a team in its three games with a mixed attack from five players with 20 or more kills. Raina Terry leads the team with 37 kills at a .112 winning percentage, while Kennedy Collins has 32 while hitting .500. Libero Taylor Kuper owns the back row with 44 digs (4.00 digs / set) while Kyla Swanson has 14 blocks (1.27 blocks / set).
SCOUTING THE HAWKEYES
Iowa started the season with two losses in South Carolina. They opened the season with a five-set loss to Duke before being swept away by Coastal Carolina. Iowa is hitting 0.171 as a team led by Courtney Buzzerio who has 42 kills and an average of 5.25 per set with a 0.316 winning percentage. She has more than double the swings of anyone else on the team.
Defensively, Maddie Slagle has the 32 best team recoveries (4.00 recoveries / set). Iowa only has nine team blocks this season versus 21 blocks (2.62 blocks / set versus).