DU Opens Season at the Hampton Inn and Suites Classic
The Pioneers will play Tennessee State, USC Upstate and College of Charleston
Aug. 24, 2017
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Tennessee State: The Tigers were chosen to finish eighth in the Ohio Valley Conference Preseason Poll after finishing 2016 with a 17-16 overall record. Tennessee State returns seven, including three starters and a libero, from their 2016 roster and have six newcomers. Outside hitter Julia Pierson was named to the Preseason All-OVC team. The Tigers are coached by first-year head coach Donika Sutton.
USC Upstate: The Spartans were picked to finish sixth in the ASUN Conference Preseason Poll after finishing 2016 with a 14-19 record. They return five starters and one libero from last year's team, with ten returners and four newcomers overall. Madison Haake was selected the ASUN Fan-Voted Preseason Setter of the Year.
College of Charleston: The Cougars were voted to win the CAA (Colonial Athletic Association) Preseason Poll after closing out 2016 with a 17-12 overall record. College of Charleston returns 11 letterwinners and had three players earn Preseason All-CAA honors. Middle blocker Kennedy Madison was named to the Preseason All-CAA Team, while setter Allison Beckman and middle blocker Krissy Mummey each earned Honorable Mention.
The Pioneers were picked as the Summit League favorites in the preseason poll. DU received the top spot for the fourth year in a row. They received five out of the eight first-place votes, earning 47 total points.
Denver enters the season coming off of its third-straight Summit League regular season and tournament championships. DU has made the NCAA Tournament the last three years after winning the Summit League Tournament. DU will again host the 2017 Summit League Championships Nov. 17-19.
CONSISTENCY IS KEY
The Pioneers won over 20 matches and 13 league matches each of the last three seasons. The Pioneers have earned the regular season title with a 13-3 Summit League record the past three seasons.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Junior outside hitter Becca Latham was named as "Players to Watch" in the Summit League Preseason Poll. Latham appeared in all 116 sets for Denver in 2016, tallying 210 kills at a mark of 1.81 per set and a hitting percentage of .206. Last season, Latham had career highs in kills (11, vs. North Dakota State), attacks (31, vs. North Dakota State), hitting percentage (.400, at IUPUI), assists (1, three times), blocks (6, vs. Utah State), and both solo (1, four times) and assisted blocks (5, vs. Utah State).
RELOAD, NOT REBUILD
Denver has 10 returners from last year, including senior right-side hitter Kayla Principato who was named to the All-Summit League team last year, and for the second time in her career. Principato led the team in kills (349) and points (417). The Pioneers also return 2016 Summit League block leader Emma Willis, who recorded 131 total blocks (125 assisted, 6 solo). DU ranked No. 1 in total blocks last year in the Summit League with 282.5 total blocks. Cassidy Rooke returns as the team's libero, where she led in digs (485) and aces (37) last season. The Pioneers will have eight new faces on the roster this season, with six incoming freshmen and two transfers. With the graduation of five seniors, including two-time Summit League Tournament MVP Ruth Okoye, DU will rely on the leadership and experience of their upperclassmen.
As mentioned, the Crimson and Gold welcomed eight new faces this past offseason. Transfers Becca Mau (Sr., OH, Longmont, Colo./ Idaho) and Teal Schnurr (Sr., MB/ RSH, Westminster, Colo./ Marquette) are coming home to finish their collegiate volleyball careers. Joining the 2017 squad are Ellie Anderson (S, 5-8, Cedar Rapids, Iowa/ Linn-Mar HS), Lydia Bartalo (OH, 5-10, Colorado Springs, Colo./ Lewis-Palmer HS), Tina Boe (MB, 6-0, Plymouth, Minn. /Osseo HS), Macy Carrabine (L/DS, 5-11, Bargersville, Ind. / Center Grove HS) and Lauren McManus (L/DS, 5-9, Waterloo, Iowa / Columbus Catholic HS) and Jaden Sandoval (RS/ OH, 6-7, Denver, Colo. / Thomas Jefferson HS).
The Pioneers are 16-18 overall in their opening matches, 9-10 since turning Division I in 1998. Denver is 4-1 in season openers in the past five years.
Denver owns a 61-10 home record in the Hamilton Gymnasium over the past five seasons, including a perfect 18-0 in 2015.
Last season, the Pioneers protected home court with a 14-1 record, losing only to Utah State in a non-conference contest.