BOULDER, Colo. -- A strong start allowed the Saint Mary's volleyball team to work out the first-match jitters and the Gaels continued to make plays from there as they defeated host Colorado 25-17, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19 to kick off the 2013 season with a victory.
All-West Coast Conference preseason picks Jordan Shaw and Kristina Graven led the way statistically in game number one, with Shaw racking up 14 kills and Graven adding 12 kills and 11 digs. Libero Sarah Reams played well defensively with 18 digs while Dalas Dodd added 44 assists.
"This was a good first test for us. Colorado's a good team but we had them on the run early with our serving," Saint Mary's coach Rob Browning said. "After they settled down, we had to step up our game in some other areas and not just rely on our serve. We were scrambling ourselves a little bit in the third set but responded well in the fourth with a more characteristic game for us."
Saint Mary's (1-0) got things rolling early with some strong play in the service game. Putting pressure on the Buffaloes with good serving opened the court up, and allowed the Gaels to win the first two sets convincingly.
Colorado (0-1) bounced back in the third with a late rally to prolong the match. Saint Mary's led 17-15 midway through the set, but the Buffaloes would run off a 7-3 run to make it 22-20 Colorado and force the Gaels to call time out. Colorado went on to win the set, forcing a fourth.
In the fourth, the Gaels reassumed control. Natalie Loos, in her first match back after missing the 2012 season due to injury, set the tone at the net and Shaw and Graven were there on the outside to take advantage of the chances they got. An 8-3 run put the Gaels ahead 20-12, and the match ended when a Colorado return went long, giving Saint Mary's the victory.
Next up for the Saint Mary's is a return date in Boulder as the Gaels and Buffaloes will meet again Saturday at 6 p.m.
"It's rare to play a team two nights in a row," Browning said. "We definitely have our work cut out for us in responding well to a good win. We expect Colorado to come out stronger tomorrow and we will be ready for them. We're looking forward to it."