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Aaronette Vonleh is having a strong and powerful time for the CU Buffs women’s basketball team

Before Colorado’s Sweet 16 matchup against Iowa, a lot of attention has been on the battles that will happen on the perimeter.

ALBANY, N.Y. – Before Colorado’s Sweet 16 game against Iowa, there has been a lot of attention on the battles that will happen on the outside area of the court.

Iowa has a lot of skilled guards who are good at shooting, like the superstar Caitlin Clark. And, Colorado also has talented guards, led by Jaylyn Sherrod.

A significant matchup on Saturday at MVP Arena could be between CU’s Aaronette Vonleh and Iowa’s Hannah Stuelke in the key area of the court.

“I think all the matchups on the court are going to be important, but I think that one is going to be about strength, athleticism, getting the ball after a missed shot – just really the small details,” Vonleh said. “I think it’ll be a good matchup. She’s a good player, but I think we’re prepared for all of them.”

Stuelke, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, averages 14.1 points and 6.7 rebounds in her first season as a starter. Vonleh, a 6-3 junior, comes in leading the team in scoring (14.0) and she’s second in rebounds (5.2).

The crucial thing for CU is that Vonleh is currently in a very successful period, having competed closely with some of the best post players in the country recently.

“Sometimes you get to a point where you just become who you are at this time of the season,” CU head coach JR Payne said. “I (told Vonleh), it’s an amazing thing to see that despite the amount of success you’ve had this year, you’re still improving.”

Vonleh began her season scoring 24 points and getting six rebounds against LSU’s Angel Reese – a second-team All-American. She’s had some significant games, but has also had inconsistent performances at times (like many players).

However, in her last three games, Vonleh has been very successful. On March 7 against Oregon State’s Raegan Beers – a third-team All-American – she had 20 points and four rebounds.

Colorado center Aaronette Vonleh (21) shoots under pressure from Kansas State center Ayoka Lee during the second half of a second-round college basketball game in the women's NCAA Tournament in Manhattan, Kan., Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Manhattan, Kan. Colorado won 63-50. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Colorado center Aaronette Vonleh (21) takes a shot under pressure from Kansas State center Ayoka Lee during a second-round college basketball game in the women’s NCAA Tournament in Manhattan, Kan., Sunday, March 24, 2024, in Manhattan, Kan. Colorado won 63-50. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Last weekend, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, she had 18 points and 10 rebounds and dominated Drake’s Anna Miller, the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year. On Sunday, she had nine points, eight rebounds and a career-high seven steals against Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee. She held Lee, an All-American honorable mention, to 10 points – about half of her average of 19.7.

Vonleh said she went into last weekend knowing it was win-or-go-home and she was determined to do her part for the team.

“I go into games expecting to just do what I’m capable of at a high level,” she said. “So I wasn’t really surprised but definitely proud of just being able to do it back to back.”

Last weekend in Manhattan, Kan., was arguably Vonleh’s best two-game stretch of the season, and it put her ability on full display.

“We’ve been telling her for the last two years that nobody in America can stop her,” CU’s Kindyll Wetta said. “I think it’s really just up to her when she wants to drop as many points as she does and just come out and be that post player, but I think she really stepped up the past weekend.

“It's really cool to see her go out there and find confidence in herself, and start realizing that nobody can stop her. We need that kind of attitude,” he said.

Vonleh is usually a strong offensive player, but her rebounding last weekend was especially encouraging. It was only the second time in her career, and the first time this year, that she had at least eight rebounds in consecutive games.

“I believe the rebounding has been very important for Aaronette,” Payne said. “Her approach to both of those games was great, with her focus and determination to be really aggressive on the glass. She knew we needed those rebounds, and I think they made a big difference for us last weekend.”

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