By Romi Bean

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado Buffaloes began the season rattling off 13 consecutive wins, marking the second-best start in program history. Their #22 ranking is the team’s best since 2016.

(credit: CBS)

“We always carry that chip. We always carry that grit of wanting to fight and compete on every possession and play our best brand of basketball,” senior Mya Hollingshed said.

The secret to this squad’s success is their veteran leadership.

“I think there are a lot of talented teams in this country. We’re certainly one of them. But that’s not necessarily why we’re winning so consistently. We’re winning because we have a group that is holding the entire team to a higher standard of execution and competitive spirit,” head coach JR Payne said.

One of the most impactful veterans – on and off the court – is fifth-year senior Mya Hollingshed, who’s been with Payne for all but one of her coaching seasons at Colorado.

On the court, Hollingshed leads the Buffs in points, rebounds, blocks and minutes. Off the hardwood, she’s the glue that keeps the team connected and thriving.

“One of the biggest blessings of being a coach is watching your players develop. Not just basketball, but academically, socially, in the community, and how they handle their business. Mya has probably developed more than anyone I’ve coached in 20 plus years,” Payne said.

(credit: CBS)

“Coming to Colorado has probably been the best decision I’ve made in my life,” Hollingshed said. “Seeing how I’ve grown in every aspect of my life is life changing. I hear it all the time from my family and my coaches.”

Hollingshed and Payne have been together for so long, that in many ways, Mya has become coach’s extra pair of eyes and ears …

“She’s just a real steady, solid presence. It’s been fun to watch her grow in her vocal presence. She was very quiet when she got here, now she’s not afraid to say anything to anyone. And we’re in a place where I can say anything to her – or just look at her and she’s like ‘Yeah, I got you. I got you.’ It’s really neat to have that type of communication and experience with your senior,” Payne said.

“I’m just now here helping, being that voice for the younger players to help speed up their learning process and help them with some of the things that I wish I knew earlier on in my career,” Hollingshed said.

With her final season in full swing and WNBA dreams on the horizon, Hollingshead treats every game as if it’s her last. But there’s still one big thing she wants to check off her list before her time at CU comes to an end.

“It’s almost like a Cinderella story, except for getting to the Big Dance.”

Romi Bean