Pioneers Score Revenge over Mastodons in Four Sets
Denver remains half-game behind South Dakota for top seed in Summit League
Oct. 28, 2016
DENVER – Another team effort punctuated the University of Denver volleyball team’s look this evening, scoring a payback win over Fort Wayne in four sets, 25-17, 25-17, 22-25 and 25-19.
Though the Pioneers (17-6, 9-2 SL) were below their season average with a .237 mark, the defense stepped up and held the Mastodons (11-14, 7-4 SL) to a .136 swing percentage as DU seemingly dug out every attack with 59 digs as a team.
“We did not play our best tonight,” said head coach Tom Hogan, “but it was great to be able to fight for a win against a very good Fort Wayne team even when our game was a little off.
“We have a very strong team in IUPUI coming to Hamilton Gymnasium tomorrow, so all of our focus and attention turns to them.”
Kayla Principato was the go-to attacker for Denver, swatting 16 kills on a .237 clip with two service aces, four digs and three total blocks, one solo and two assisted, while Ruth Okoye followed suit with nine kills and a .412 rate to go with three block assists.
Somer Johnson led all players in the match with 18 kills but was limited to a .184 rate behind Denver’s sturdy defense, while Madison Jaqua drove the Mastodon offense with 31 assists and Nicole Rightnowar took over backline duties with 21 digs.
DU came out firing in the opening frame, hitting .323 and keeping the Dons to a .028 mark as the Pioneers posted four team blocks.
Denver rallied for 11 of the first 12 points of the match and kept at least a four-point cushion for the remainder en route to a 25-17 final.
While the Pioneer defense flexed its muscles in the first set, it was the service line that became the difference in the second as Denver tallied eight service aces, compared to none in the opener, to go with a .154 hitting rate as Fort Wayne rebounded with a .208 mark.
Corrujedo took over attacking duties as she tallied four kills in the set, while Principato added three and Okoye notched two, and the hot serves came from Domme and Andrea Eddy each with three aces.
Both sides traded points at the start of the stanza before DU rattled off an 8-1 run through the midway point for a 14-8 lead. Fort Wayne made a push later on, narrowing the gap to 19-16, but the home team would not be denied, closing the set on a 6-1 run for a 25-17 final.
The teams were evenly matched in the set as Denver hit .250 to the Dons’ .256 mark.
Principato maintained her pace with four kills, followed by three each from Okoye and Willis.
Both sides went back-and-forth again in the set as neither side held a decisive lead greater than two points with a late tie coming at 22-22. The Pioneers couldn’t find the winning combination, unfortunately, as the Mastodons took the final three points for a 25-22 final.
DU’s defense made a return in the final frame, holding Fort Wayne to a .073 clip, while getting just enough on the offensive end for a .214 swing percentage.
Principato closed the match with five kills as Latham added four and Okoye threw down three.
It was almost a mirror of the first set as the Pioneers opened up on an 11-3 run and never let the Mastodons within three as the final came in at 25-19.
Denver remains a half-game behind South Dakota for the top seed in the Summit League Tournament set to start in three weeks’ time and will remain in Hamilton Gymnasium tomorrow for a match against IUPUI starting at 6 p.m. MT.
Tickets are on sale for Denver’s home matches and can be found here.
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