When the volleyball season begins at the University of Colorado – and it won’t be long – the Coors Events Center will become The Court of Three Sisters.
Coach Liz Kritza believes having three siblings on the same team might be an NCAA Division I first. She should know; she’s followed national women’s volleyball recruiting for nearly three decades and has kept close watch on who’s gone where.
But even if three sisters have played together on the same college team, CU landing the Simpson siblings was a major recruiting coup. Taylor, a senior, is the oldest; Cierra – or “CC” – is a sophomore; and Gabby is an incoming freshman. They are from Colorado Springs (Doherty High School) and being the offspring of two former college basketball players – Rick played at Louisiana Tech, Serena at UMKC – come by their athleticism naturally.
There could be times this season when half of Kritza’s players on the court will be the Simpsons, and if that happens there shouldn’t be any slide in the Buffaloes’ performance. Each of the Simpson sisters was highly sought and the pair already at CU – Taylor, a top 10 national recruit, and Cierra, easily a top 25 prospect who might have been higher ranked had she been playing her current position – have proved themselves in NCAA play. No less is expected from Gabby, also a top 10 national prospect.
Taylor, a 6-3 outside hitter, took a circuitous route to Boulder, enrolling first at Nebraska, then transferring to Missouri before setting at CU in the spring of 2013. Cierra, a 6-0 libero (defensive specialist), had her sights set on Texas-San Antonio before a late moment of clarity about her college career brought her to the realization that she wanted to play at a higher level of competition and stay nearer home. Gabby, a 6-4 setter/hitter, initially committed to Colorado State in her sophomore season of high school, then reconsidered when she went to Minneapolis to watch CU and her sisters compete against Minnesota in the NCAA Tournament.
“I think the opportunity to play with her sisters was really hard to pass up," Kritza said. "Her sisters were able to show her what was going on in the program, what her life here would be like, what her future might be like.
“Last season was helpful; it offered more tangible proof, she could see our improvement. Seeing her siblings play almost all their matches on the Pac-12 Network, that kind of visibility, and playing against the best in the country – that’s what any competitive player wants.”
Plus, Gabby says her original commitment to CSU simply came far too early – but that seems to be national norm these days in volleyball, soccer and lacrosse. “If I had to go back I would have waited (to commit) until my senior year,” she said. “You’re so much more mature and you have a better picture of what you want. You get forced to make a decision so young and that’s why you have all of these people transferring because they don’t know if that’s exactly where they want to go or if that’s exactly what they want to do. I love it here.”
Of course, Kritza loves having them – even without having seen Gabby play her first college match. But she should prove to be a major contributor to a Buffs team that was 18-14 last season (9-11 in the Pac-12) and knocked off three nationally ranked opponents – No. 1 Washington, No. 11 UCLA and No. 25 Arizona – at the Coors Events Center. CU advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006 and defeated Iowa State (3-1) before losing in five sets (2-3) to No. 10 Minnesota in its home city.
By: B.G. Brooks, contributing editor, cubuffs.com. Read the whole story at cubuffs.com.