Pioneers Three-Peat as Summit League Champions
Denver defeats South Dakota in four sets to claim NCAA Tournament Berth
Nov. 20, 2016
DENVER - Looking for the elusive clinching set, the University of Denver volleyball team defeated South Dakota this afternoon to claim their third-straight Summit League Tournament Championship in four sets, 25-12, 25-14, 22-25 and 25-18.
Denver (2014-16) becomes only the third Summit League team to win three straight tournaments, along with Valparaiso (2x, 1994-96 and 2003-05) and Oral Roberts (1997-2002), and marks the first league championship under first-year head coach Tom Hogan.
The Pioneers (23-7, 13-3 SL) had a dominant defensive look, as they have done the majority of the season, using 17.5 blocks to limit the Coyotes (25-7, 13-3 SL) to a .076 clip.
The home team had plenty of options to choose from as Kayla Principato led the attack with 12 kills along with five block assists, while Becca Latham added 10 kills and three block assists with tournament MVP Ruth Okoye netting eight kills and five block assists.
Emma Willis embodied her inner brick wall, stuffing 11 USD attacks in the form of block assists, including a triple block, to go with seven kills and a .400 mark to power both halves of the court.
Nola Basey made history as well, along with her spot on the All-Tournament team, she ended with seven kills, three block assists and 10 digs to become the 16th member of Denver's 1,000 digs club. In her decorated career, the Lyons, Colo., native is only the fifth Pioneer in school history to surpass 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career, last accomplished in 2008 when Holly Benson joined the prestigious club.
Cassidy Rooke was the other DU member on the All-Tourney team, finishing with 27 digs in the contest to help limit USD to the sub-.100 percentage. Monique Domme and Piyusha Boteju drove the potent offense, totaling 18 and 19 assists, respectively, while Domme doubled down with 15 digs for her ninth double-double of the season.
South Dakota put up a fight for Denver as 2016 Summit League Player of the Year Audrey Reeg fired off 15 kills and 14 digs, but was limited to a .196 rate, while Brittany Jessen finished with 39 assists and 11 digs, with Hayley Dotseth closing the Yotes' tournament run with 13 kills and seven digs.
The Pioneers came out firing in the opening set, hitting .393 while limiting the Coyotes to a .000 clip behind five blocks and 13 digs.
Willis led the offensive look with four kills and no errors, Rooke dug out five USD attacks and Okoye put away three blocks to round out the effort.
Denver opened the match with an 8-1 run, highlighted by a pair of aces from Rooke, and kept the momentum for a 19-10 lead late en route to a 25-12 final.
DU upped the defensive pressure, posting 8.5 blocks in the frame to limit the Yotes to a -.068 mark.
Denver still hit .206 as a team, getting three kills from Latham, while Willis posted six block assists, including a triple block, and Corrujedo added three of her own to go with six Rooke digs.
The Pioneers remained in control of the match, methodically building up an 8-3 advantage and never let USD within four, cruising to a 20-9 lead and a 25-14 final.
South Dakota forced a fourth set after hitting .121 in the stanza as Denver was held to a .080 mark.
Principato notched four kills, along with three from Latham, while Rooke kept the Yotes in check with nine digs.
The Coyotes took over early, opening up a 7-1 run, but the Pioneers were not deterred as they fought back for the tie at 14-14 halfway through. The set turned into a back-and-forth affair before with the final tie coming at 22-22.
USD refused to be swept, however, as they claimed the next three points for a 25-22 final.
DU took home its third straight Summit League Tournament Championship behind a blistering .467 clip, outpacing South Dakota's .231 mark.
Principato led the offensive effort with five kills while Rooke completed her 27-dig effort with seven in the final set and Willis responded at the net with three block assists.
The Pioneers rallied off a 6-1 run to start the decisive verse and kept the pressure up with a 13-10 lead midway through. The Coyotes narrowed the gap down to 14-13, but it was as close as they would come as Denver fired off four straight points for an 18-13 lead and refused to slow, taking the championship belt with seven of the final 10 points for a 25-18 final.
Denver takes the Summit League Automatic Berth into the NCAA Tournament set to start in two weeks' time, but will have one final regular-season match against Long Beach State on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 2 p.m. MT.
2016 Summit League All-Tournament Team
Ruth Okoye, Denver - MVP
Nola Basey, Denver
Cassidy Rooke, Denver
Audrey Reeg, South Dakota
Lauren Mattison, South Dakota
Laura Miilos, Oral Roberts
Emily Minnick, North Dakota State
Natalie Seiler, Fort Wayne
Gabby Fisher, IUPUI
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