Discussion in 'University of Colorado News and Olympic Sports' started by cmgoods, Aug 9, 2015.
Article added about the team taking off and getting to practice for a week or so at the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs- http://www.cubuffs.com//ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=600&ATCLID=210260393 . (Note- I bolded the below about their scrimmage since I hadn't heard that mentioned before.)
BOULDER—The University of Colorado volleyball team is in Colorado Springs, Colo. to train at the United States Olympic Training Center until August 14.
“We are pleased to be able to return to the USOTC,” coach Liz Kritza said. “We’re the only program in the country that has done that for the last five years and it has become our standard preseason training facility.”
The Buffs will return to campus on August 14 to complete their fall training block and will have a scrimmage at the Coors Events Center on August 22 at 4 p.m. The season officially starts on August 28 as CU hosts San Diego at 6:30 p.m. in the second match of the Omni Hotels Colorado Volleyball Classic.
I noticed on the roster that we really have some height on this team.
Cant wait to see this team! have a feeling we are going to see some of our players really emerge and make a statement. We have a lot of great players on this team and will be fun to see how far they can go.
Coach Krtiza deserves a lot of praise. Brutal schedule. Not afraid to battle the best. And i think it will pay off big time both in recruiting and confidence.
Which player are you all most looking forward to seeing this season?
Picture of the team from the Olympic Training Center (via CU instagram- https://instagram.com/cubuffsvb/ ).
Great to see all 15 rostered players accounted for, and no obvious injuries (casts, boots, etc.).
To answer your question, my short answer is any players (hopefully A LOT OF THEM) who can help the Buffs continue to improve as a program.
For MUCH more detail, Sorry for what is pure vanity, but thought I'd just repeat myself, and copy (largely) the WAY too exhaustive post I wrote at the end of last season about my lame uninformed opinions of the various returning Buffs, and also a little bit about the Buffs place in the Pac 12 with the seniors who've departed (from both the Buffs and other teams). (I added a few "NEW NOTES" to this new post where I thought it was needed or things changed. Any other references below to "next" season actually now refer, of course, to this season.)-
With my usual disclosure that I have no idea what I’m talking about, I would guess the volleyball team can be seen as being roughly in the same position next year that Men's basketball was at the beginning of this year (and maybe still is?)- definitely reason for optimism with many crucial and talented pieces (many still young) still there, but having questions due to losing the "big gun" (whether Taylor Simpson or the Mayor).
(NEW NOTE- Oops, my words from last year immediately need help. Hopefully this season will end up far better for the volleyball team than most of last year did for basketball. In addition to the tough and of course unforseen injuries basketball faced last year, the most obvious difference I see with the volleyball team is that volleyball team leadership should continue to be VERY strong this year, with 2 senior leaders, including one (N. Edelman) who’s been a captain since her freshman year, ready to keep the Buffs on a strong path. They also have 3 solid juniors, all with significant playing time, who should also be there to help support the younger players while knowing "what it takes" on the court to win against all the tough teams the Buffs will face. Another major difference I see is that volleyball will have both of their very talented "point guards" (setters) back, so running the offense (assuming the passing is good enough) shouldn't have the issue basketball seemed to have last year without an experienced natural point guard (although that should hopefully be a lot stronger this year with D. Collier and company having another year of experience).)
Again, I don’t know volleyball that well technically, so definitely will appreciate any corrections to the below, and please consider this more a starting point for discussion as opposed to any expert analysis.
As is often said in sports when a star leaves (unless you’re one of the few “super” schools in whatever sport- Kentucky and Duke basketball, for example, that seem to just go from star to star), I assume next year will need to be even more a collaborative team effort than this year. (And, volleyball seems such a collaborative sport anyway- if any one of the passing, setting or hitting aspects is off, EVERYTHING is off.) No ONE player will probably be able to replace the departing seniors’ (esp. T. Simpson’s) offensive AND defensive production, but hopefully ALL the other players will improve enough so that COLLECTIVELY the team is stable with or ideally improves from this year. There are definitely reasons for optimism that this can happen.
Below is my as usual OVERLY EXHAUSTIVE look at the vball Buffs. Of course, these are just a few highlights from an ignorant volleyball fan. ANY player on the roster can make a jump year to year, especially with the youth of many of them, and so could become keys to overall team improvement next year. And, as an up and coming program, I could also see the Buffs as being potentially more likely to either gain or lose transfers. (We did lose two transfers last year who could have helped defensively.) In addition, I’d say this coaching staff makes as many match to match and game to game adjustments as any, so the lineups could be very fluid.
Without considering the incoming freshmen, I’d say the three known offensive pieces that will need to improve (and definitely have “upside” so it’s easily conceivable- in no particular order):
· With all her physical tools (size, strength, quickness, hops, etc.), Gabby Simpson should become a much more effective/ terminal hitter sooner rather than later as she gains experience and repetitions during the off-season and next pre-season.
(For anyone who doesn’t know her volleyball background, she’s always been a full time setter. Therefore she probably had, as a FRESHMAN, THE hardest on-court challenge of any Buff this year- being less experienced than even typical freshmen in some skills (hitting, serve return) she probably didn't practice much in high school or club, and having to work on those skills while playing in the toughest conference in the country. AND, she still of course had to develop as all freshmen do to take her more experienced skills, (especially) setting (the "quarterback" of volleyball), serving, blocking, etc., to be competitive at the top collegiate level.)
Especially in the last few matches of the year, her jump serve also seemed to become much more accurate, and could become a big weapon for the Buffs in the coming years.
· Both of this year’s middles (Anna Pfefferle and Katelyn Cuff) were inexperienced at the college level ((One a sophomore lightly used as a freshman, and a freshman who, in addition to inexperience at a college level, had her hitting hand wrapped almost all year due to what I assume was a finger break/ sprain(?).) Their defensive performance (blocking) was above my expectations. With another year’s experience, the defense should continue to improve, and hopefully the offense also. (Again, not a surprise given their youth, but even with the Buff’s major overall improvement offensively, this year’s 2 main middles totaled ~1 kill less per set than last year’s two experienced starters in conference play while hitting at a lower %. Of course, in addition to their youth, some of that may also have been caused by (a) the outside hitters often being hard to stop, so they got some of the best scoring opportunity sets which in prior years might have gone to the middles. (b) Also, since they were both younger, it may be the setters (one of whom was also a freshman) still need to refine how to set these middles most effectively. (c) AND, in prior year’s, one of the big go-to and high % plays for the middles was the slide play to the outside by middle K. English. That play can’t be run in the same way in a 6-2 formation.) Edit- Assume incoming freshman Aiden Lea, who will have the benefit of starting early at CU (Starting the semester beginning next month) will also be in the mix for earning playing time.
· Alexis Austin continued improvement. She already had a very good offensive season and showed lots of improvement as a junior, shown in her earning All Pac-12 1st team honors, so will be a great leader of the offense. From her junior to senior year, T. Simpson went from hitting at a .162 average/ 3.8 kills per set in conference to .284/4.6K/ set. And, A. Austin also improved a lot this year, going from .177/ 2.45k/set last year as a sophomore to .248/ 3.42K/set as a junior, even with a slow start in conference as she didn’t play much in non-conference. If Ms. Austin has an extra gear to shift to next year as a senior like Ms. Simpson did this year, and she definitely has the talent and sounds to have the work ethic to do it, she could easily get to 4+ kills per set next year as the main go-to Buff target.)
As I’ve seen others mention, it will be a big help if she can continue to improve defensively. (Ms. Austin did look a lot better this year, but defense could be the area we miss T. Simpson even more than offensively, as she was a pretty elite level defensive player for an outside hitter her senior year.)
Then, it’s also a question of who takes over the 2 open positions (leftside hitter for T. Simpson, mainly rightside for N. Ortiz Ruiz).
· On the leftside:
o Before SHE was lost to injury for the year during the 1st conference match, it was Sophomore Joslyn Hayes who was playing in place of A. Austin while the team nursed HER injury during non-conference. Hopefully Ms. Hayes will be back to 100% next season. (Wonder if they try to get her a medical redshirt for this year so she’ll still be a sophomore next year?)
o Also, current freshman Stephanie Shadley mainly got time as a defensive and serving specialist this year, but I assume will get chances to contribute as a hitter and/ or defensive specialist in the years to come. (Always hard if not impossible for me to gauge how freshmen will progress in later years, and obviously any of them can make huge jumps from freshman to sophomore year as they get a full year of practice with the team, college level strength and conditioning, etc.)
o Both from an indication from Asst. Coach Jagd that it was a possibility in his interview at the time of announcing the Buff’s 2015 recruiting class, and just with her being a BIG leaper (as I mentioned in the recruiting thread, one website said she has a 48” vertical jump) like Alexis Austin (who was also a middle blocker coming out of high school), I’d expect the Buffs to give incoming freshman middle Naghede Abu a look at BOTH outside hitter as well as her current middle blocker position. (NEW NOTE- Assume it probably doesn't mean much, but Ms. Abu is only listed as a middle right now in the roster. Zuri Smith, another freshman who committed after this was written last year, is listed as an outside hitter.)
· On the right side:
o If my always suspect memory is accurate, what playing time Joslyn Hayes received as a freshman was often as a right side, so assume she can also be in the discussion for this position.
o Incoming freshman Taylor Joachim is a natural 6'4" rightside hitter. (Like G. Simpson, she is one of the gods' chosen- a lefty.) Although typically teams don’t want to rely on freshmen, CU obviously wasn’t shy in starting 2 this year, so she definitely could be in the mix. (As I mentioned in another thread, interesting that in Coach Jagd's interview after the freshmen were announced, it sounds like one scenario for the Buffs (although NOT next year) is that Ms. Joachim may also be groomed to be a 6-2 formation setter like G. Simpson, and might become the 2nd setter in the 6-2 after N. Edelman graduates.)
o I’d consider it a last case scenario, but did also just want to throw Cierra Simpson’s name up here also. At 6’ tall, she’s tall enough to be an offensive player. Being such a good and improving libero, the only scenario where I could see where she’d be in the offensive mix is (a) obviously, she needs to be able to hit and block at a Pac 12 level (totally unknown to us fans as she obviously hasn't done either as a libero during matches), (b) none of the other outside hitters are doing well enough defensively to be 6 rotation players (you typically want (or need?) due to substitution rules at least two 6 rotation offensive players, with G. Simpson being the sure one for the Buffs right now) and (c) there are at least two other defensive players who the coaches are confident who can take over at the libero and defensive specialist positions.
NEW NOTE- One scenario not noted above. Although I don't know if it is seriously being looked at, or if it was just a function of the Buffs having a small roster that day (10 players, with one hurt pretty early in the match), but in the scrimmage I went to last spring against CSU, Nicole Edelman was actually playing a lot and hitting from the right side while G. Simpson was setting while in the back row.
· Continued improvement by Cierra Simpson in her junior year. (Looked a lot better this year, AND she was already solid as a freshman.) Hopefully she will become more and more assertive back there- a vball magnet who takes anything close to her.
· The other Defensive Specialists- 1st- just want them to stay healthy!
· As noted above, one of the front row players (other than G. Simpson) will need to become a solid 6 rotation player. (If this doesn’t consistently occur, the Buffs might be forced to use some other scenarios at different times- the Cierra Simpson to 6 rotation outside hitter scenario I mentioned above? Might they have to use a 5-1 setter configuration more often so that G. Simpson is used in the back row for defense rather than as a setter?)
· Defense is also one area I assume we may also eventually hear of two-three more “still to be announced” freshmen coming in. Since as I understand it only premier DS’s typically receive scholarships, at least as freshmen, the 1st time we may hear of some or all of the new DS’s is when the 2015 roster comes out or the Buffs announce something late in the summer. (As is noted in the allbuffs recruiting thread, libero Gabriella Carta-Samuels from California State Champs Archbishop Mitty (also unofficially Maxpreps #8 (in their Xcellent 25) and #1 (computer) ranked team in the country) is listed as possibly coming to the Buffs, but she hasn’t officially signed so who knows at this point if that will happen or not.) (NEW NOTE- Ms. Carta-Samuels IS now with the Buffs. The Buffs also got another DS commitment now at CU in Abbie D'Agosta.)
A few general wildcard elements I can think of that could help the Buff’s this year in the off-season if they occur:
1) T. Simpson seemed to benefit and improve A LOT by getting to practice with the National Team training squad and being part of the Pac 12 All Star Team that went to China. Hopefully one or more Buffs will get to practice and train with some sort of all-star team over the off season. (NEW NOTE- 4 Buffs (N. Edelman, A. Austin, C. and G. Simpson) were able to go for a week and train in Houston with the Collegiate National Team.)
2) Totally off the wall, but I can’t remember the volleyball team having gone on an international summer tour in many years. (I believe it’s allowed by the NCAA every 4 years or so? I know both basketball teams have had one in the last 2-3 years.) If they are planning on doing this the next year or two, they’re allowed to have some extra summer practices during the year of the tour, as well as getting some additional (no pressure) practice matches. I’d assume this could especially be a BIG help for the incoming freshmen. (I have NO inside information if there are any plans on this actually happening or not.) (NEW NOTE- No foreign tour for Buff volleyball this summer.)
3) Assume it’s obvious for all sports, but of course injuries will play a major role one way or the other. As the difference in the Buff’s play between this past non-conference vs. conference performance showed, the (smart) nursing of A. Austin and N. Edelman injuries by the coaches in non-conference meant we didn’t get a true picture of the Buff’s abilities until conference. This put them a little behind in RPI. Also, I assume the team wasn’t as ready as it would have been come conference play if they’d both been healthy. Hopefully this coming year everyone’s healthy so the Buffs can schedule evermore high RPI AND challenging non-conference teams to help their own RPI, as well as make them as ready as possible for Pac play. (This tougher scheduling has already been happening- last year’s non-conference was probably the toughest in many years.)
Finally, I wanted to note (and always need to remind myself as a nervous fan) that, of course, the Buffs won’t be the only team with questions next year from losing their star(s) - it’s the nature of college athletics. Off the top of my head, the following Pac 12 teams are also graduating “stars”- Arizona (M. Kingdon), Utah (losing 6 seniors, including their top two kill leaders and one of two main setters), Oregon (L. Brenner and one of two main setters), UCLA (conference kill leader K. Lowe and both of the main setters who've played this year), and of course Washington (Losing two- time Pac 12, and defending national, player of the year K. Vansant, as well as their #2 hitter K. Nelson).
(Note re Washington- They, Stanford and typically (although they were off this year, relatively at least) USC are the 3 main Pac 12 schools which seem to just re-load as needed with Top 10 to 25 recruits every year or two. Therefore, Washington will I’m sure be fine next year (although maybe not a national champion contender for a year or so?), even without Ms.’s Vansant and Nelson. NEW NOTE- It will be interesting to watch Washington this year. As I mentioned in another thread when it happened, they lost their VERY respected and experienced coach to Notre Dame, and replaced him with a young man with no prior head coaching experience, although at least he knows the players since he’s been an assistant at UDub for a couple years. Also, although they're still the prohibitive favorite in the Pac 12 due to their depth and still many great players, Stanford had a MAJOR challenge added to their national championship path when their best player, senior middle blocker Inky Ajanaku, went down for the coming season (ACL, etc.) while playing with one of the national teams this summer.)
Anyway- Go Buffs!
Unfortunately, although you can't tell by this photo, #21, DS Gwen Herring, has told me she is most likely out for the year. She was in a sling when I saw her and that's why I asked.
That's too bad, and must be a bummer for her and the team. She was fun to watch, and the defense definitely, if I remember correctly, looked more solid last year when she was able to play (in between her missing ~1/2 the season with I believe 2 (???) concussions).
Hope she recovers fully, has a great school year, and is ready to play her senior year in 2016.
Be interesting to see how the defense is now configured to maximize results, as that leaves only one veteran (C. Simpson) left as a rosted DS for what typically requires AT LEAST 2 defensive specialist positions (and ideally more, for serving variety, substituting for a player having an off day, depth for injuries, etc.) . We'll see whether it's a veteran hitter or 2 contributing on the defensive side (As I know S. Shadley already did some as a freshman last year), and/ or one of the 2 incoming freshmen DS's, who earn playing time.
Reminder from the volleyball team about the scrimmage this Saturday-
Scrimmage article- http://www.cubuffs.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=600&ATCLID=210275287
BOULDER —The No. 24 University of Colorado Buffaloes will host the Black & Gold scrimmage on Saturday, August 22, at 4 p.m. at the Coors Events Center. The volleyball scrimmage is free and open to the public.
Following the intra-squad scrimmage, the Buffs will host a free kids clinic for kids eighth grade and under from 6-7 p.m.
CU returns six of its seven starters from the 2014 team that finished 20-14 overall and tied for fourth in the Pac-12 Conference with an 11-9 mark. The Buffs have been picked to finish sixth in the Pac-12 this year by the league coaches.
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