Sutherland killing it in college V-ball
BOULDER – Amber Sutherland walked onto the Coors Event Center’s volleyball court like she owned it. And it appeared she did at times during Colorado’s season-opening match with Denver University.It’s not an unusual feeling for her to have. Sutherland’s been a master on the court ever since she decided on volleyball as her No. 1 sport in her freshman year at Glenwood Springs High School.That was seven years ago. Now, in her junior year and second season as a starting outside hitter for CU, Sutherland’s approach to volleyball hasn’t changed.In fact, as one of the Buffs’ top players – it’s gotten stronger.
Prior to this weekend’s Hawaiian Airlines Wahine Volleyball Classic in Honolulu, Sutherland was sixth in the Big 12 Conference in kills. Against DU, she recorded 13 kills with eight digs.It’s all matter of what needs to be done to help the team, Sutherland said. “I’ll do anything it takes to make the team better,” she said. When it comes to making team’s better, Sutherland’s gotten that down to an art form.In high school, she helped turn Glenwood into a consistent winner, moving up the playoff ladder throughout her brilliant four-year prep career.
Sutherland’s senior year team concluded the 2003 season with a 29-1 record and reached the 4A state tournament for the first time in school history. Their only loss of the year came in the semifinals. Additionally, Sutherland’s play at the prep tournament earned her 4A Player of the Year honors from the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post.Heavily recruited in high school by a number of Division I programs, Sutherland opted for CU. The decision, she said, was easy.”I wanted to stay close to home,” Sutherland said. At the time of her signing, Sutherland was only the second GSHS female athlete to earn a full-ride Division I athletic scholarship.
Taking her game to CU, Sutherland’s done the same for the Buffaloes.After learning the college game as a part-time player in her freshman season, Sutherland started in all 28 of CU’s matches last year. As a sophomore, Sutherland tallied a team-high 15 games with double-doubles, recording over nine kills 26 times.Individually, Sutherland logged her current game-high marks of 28 points with 26 kills in a 2005 match at Kansas State playing with a dislocated finger. Her Big 12 experience also includes two contests against nationally-ranked Nebraska.”It’s fun playing there,” Sutherland said of the trip to Lincoln. “But it’s crazy. Everyone’s wearing Red and it’s noisy the entire match.”
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Amid hundreds of cleat-footed little leaguers casually gathered along the first baseline, the glare of parents’ sunglasses deflecting the early morning sun, coach Troy Phillips began a trip down memory lane.