Aug. 28, 2016
BOX SCORE vs MARIST | BOX SCORE vs SAN DIEGO STATE
SAN DIEGO – Rebounding from a tough loss the prior day, the University of Denver volleyball team recorded their first win of 2016 with a sweep over Marist College this afternoon, and followed up with a five-set victory over San Diego State to collect the day two sweep at the Aztec Invitational
Nola Basey and Ruth Okoye each made the All-Tournament team after leading the Pioneers (2-1) over the weekend en route to a 25-22, 25-11, 25-14 win over the Red Foxes (0-2) in the opening match of the day, and were both pivotal in the marathon win over the Aztecs (1-2) to seal the first pair of wins under first-year head coach Tom Hogan.
“Today we took a big step forward as a program,” said coach Hogan. “We showed resiliency against two tough opponents, and we beat a good San Diego State team in five sets on their home court.
We are looking forward to getting back to Du and preparing for a very challenging tournament this upcoming weekend.”
MATCH ONE vs MARIST
DU gave Hogan his first win at the helm of the program after a hard-fought opening set to the Red Foxes with Denver taking an early 4-1 lead behind a pair of kills from Kayla Principato.
Marist refused to go away quietly as they forced a 6-6 tie led by two kills from Nikki DeSerpa and a service ace from Lexi Millington, and eventually took an 11-9 lead after a handful of unforced Pioneer errors.
Denver responded in kind with a 7-2 run spearheaded by a strong net presence from Cassie Baird as the Indianapolis native posted a kill, a block assist with Emma Willis, and a solo block in quick succession, followed immediately by a kill from Ruth Okoye, to prompt a quick Red Fox timeout to slow the outburst.
The brief break in action seemingly made little difference as DU added two quick points behind a Marist error and a team block from Okoye and Becca Latham, but the Red Foxes rallied for a fleeting 5-1 run behind Kelsey Ediger’s two kills and block assist with Stephanie Stone that narrow the Pioneer lead down to 19-18 late in the set.
DU appeared on the brink of their first set win of the year with a 23-20 lead thanks to a kill each from Principato and Nola Basey, but Marist had one last effort to give as Ediger recorded her team-leading fourth kill of the set, followed by a tandem block from Taylor van der Biezen and Ashton Korona, to cut the lead down to 23-22.
Denver ensured the effort would be in vain as Principato and Basey teamed up for the one-two combo once again as Principato smacked her fourth kill of the set to give the Pioneers two set-point opportunities, and only needed one thanks to Basey’s second kill of the contest to clinch the opening set at 25-22.
The second set started off similar to the first as DU opened up with a 6-1 run off a kill and team block from Okoye, while Basey added a kill and team block of her own, to set the tone early. Marist narrowed the gap to 7-4 in the initial portion of the set, but that would be the closest the score would come as the Pioneers fired off a 10-2 run behind timely kills from Basey, Willis and Latham, to go with a handful of Red Fox errors and a team block from Willis and Latham, for a 17-6 lead midway through the set.
The remainder of the set was no different as Denver maintained its lead at 21-10 before closing out the set on a 4-1 run led by a service ace from Olivia Novotny and a kill each from Basey, Principato and Okoye to finalize the score at 25-11.
Set three started off as a back-and-forth affair, with DU taking the early 4-2 lead, followed by Marist climbing in front at 5-4 before the Pioneers responded with a 5-0 run off a trio of Red Fox errors and a kill each from Okoye and Latham for the 9-5 lead.
Marist stayed close behind Denver at 11-10 midway through the set, but the Pioneers hit the afterburners and fired off an immense 14-4 run thanks to four kills from Latham, two from Moni Corrujedo, and one each from Okoye, Principato and Willis to claim the first win under the direction of coach Hogan at 25-14.
Latham and Principato led the way for DU once again as each recorded eight kills in the match while Latham added a .429 swing percentage and two block assists, complemented by two digs and two block assists from Principato.
Okoye was not far behind with seven kills of her own, coupled with a .357 hitting percentage and three block assists, while Basey rounded out the quartet with six kills, 11 digs, one block assist and one service ace.
Piyusha Boteju and Monique Domme again split time at setter as Boteju tallied 16 assists, seven digs and a block assist, while Domme ended with 13 assists and five digs.
Novotny split in the back row with Cassidy Rooke as Novotny ended with six digs, three assists and two service aces, while Rooke added nine digs and two assists in the contest.
Denver hit .241 on the match while holding Marist to -0.011, outblocked the Red Foxes eight to five, and added five service aces compared to two.
MATCH TWO vs SAN DIEGO STATE
The first match for the Pioneers paled in comparison to the five-set affair against San Diego State as the opening salvo set the tone for the entire match; six ties punctuated the early portions of the first set as each team fought back to even the score multiple times.
DU held the biggest lead on a 7-1 run behind three service aces, two from Novotny and one from Willis, coupled with two kills from Principato and one each from Willis and Okoye, for a 17-11 Denver lead. It was the closest the Aztecs got as DU cruised to the initial set win at 25-17.
History was made for the Pioneers as Corrujedo drove home her first kill of the match to give her team a 16-12 lead, but it was a career milestone for her as she became the 14th DU player to reach 1000 kills, the first since Emmy Davidsmeyer accomplished the feat back in 2009.
The second set started the same with five ties off the start en route to 9-8 Pioneer lead, yet DU appeared to have another smooth sail midway through with a 17-13 lead, but three quick points from San Diego State prompted Denver’s first timeout of the set while holding onto a 17-16 lead.
It wasn’t enough to dissuade the Aztecs as they tied the set at 17 apiece coming out of the break and stuck around to force another 20-20 tie later on. The Pioneers’ defense struggled to contain San Diego State at that point, as the Aztecs closed the set on a 5-1 run, tying the match at 1-1.
Both teams ended up trading punches again in the third set as neither side could hold a lead greater than two points en route to another 10-10 tie, while Denver started to pull away with a 17-13 lead after trading a handful of unforced errors with the host team.
The Aztecs battled back, though, cutting DU’s lead to 22-21 late in the set, but Basey’s eighth kill of the match put the lead at 23-21, while a tandem block from Principato and Okoye set the Pioneers up for three set points.
San Diego State stole the first two set points after a pair of DU errors, but the third time would be the charm for the visitors as Principato smashed home her eighth kill as well to clinch the third set at 25-23.
Denver fell behind early in the fourth set with the Aztecs owning a 5-2 lead, but the veteran-laced squad proved hardy enough to force a 7-7 before San Diego State opened up a 15-10 lead midway through.
The Pioneers forced another tie at 17-17 before taking their first lead of the set at 20-19 behind two kills from Okoye and one from Latham, though the Aztecs rallied on their owns terms with a 5-1 run led by a kill each from Alexandra Psoma and Ashlynn Dunbar, a team block from Psoma and Deja Harris, an Emma Fuzie ace and a Pioneer error to seize the lead at 24-21.
Denver had one last gasp as they forced an error from Dunbar, but Psoma put the final touches on the fourth set with her 10th kill of the match to force the deciding fifth set.
San Diego State stayed hot DU’s heels early in the final set, but a crucial 5-0 run on a 4-3 lead gave the Pioneers a 9-3 advantage thanks to a kill each from Okoye, Latham and Corrujedo, coupled with a pair of Aztec errors.
Denver had to withstand one final outburst from San Diego State as the hosts narrowed the gap to 10-7 midway through, but DU found the extra gear and rallied off a 5-1 runm behind a combo block from Willis and Principato, coupled with a kill each from the duo, that closed out the match at 15-8 capped off by Willis’ second service ace of the night to give the Pioneers a 2-1 mark on the weekend.
Principato finished with 11 kills and six block assists on the night, while Basey ended with 11 kills, five digs and three service aces to lead Denver on the match.
Okoye added 10 kills of her own, one solo block and three block assists, while Willis posted four kills, six block assists and two service aces.
Boteju and Domme continued to split time as primary setter, as Boteju totaled 27 assists, nine digs and two service aces, while Domme added 25 assists, eight digs and three service aces.
Rooke proved decisive on several serves throughout the match as she ended with 14 digs and two assists, while Novotny had her fair share on the back line as well with four digs and five service aces.
Basey earned her first All-Tournament selection of the year behind 21 kills over two days, coupled with 23 digs and four service aces, while Okoye tallied 20 kills on a blistering .459 swing percentage to go with 10 block assists and two solo blocks.
The Pioneers will have the next few days off and will return to the court on Friday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m. MT when they host  Loyola Marymount at the start of the annual Pioneer Classic in Hamilton Gymnasium.
Tickets are on sale and can be found here.
Season ticket holders interested in receiving a season parking pass in Lot C (map) can do so by making a minimum $110 tax deductible donation to the Pioneer Movement Annual Fund in support of the Volleyball team. Please contact the ticket office at (303) 871-4625 to make your donation.
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