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Season Recap: Best Season Record in Program History

Denver Volleyball
Dec. 11, 2014

DENVER- The Pioneers wrapped up the 2014 season on December 5, a campaign highlighted by the program’s best record in its history (27-7, 13-3 Summit) and Summit League regular season and tournament titles. The team also made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colorado. Denver faced the nation's number 15 seed Colorado State, falling to the Rams in three sets (25-21, 25-17, 25-22).

"It's been our goal since I've been here at the University of Denver [to play in the NCAA tournament]," coach Jesse Mahoney commented after the NCAA First Round. "Each year we've gotten a little bit closer and this year we finally broke through. That part was very gratifying, and I'm glad the seniors were able to do that within their career. We were excited to be here in this great atmosphere; it just leaves us hungry to come back again."

In spite of 2014 starting senior Bailey Karst's injury just before the tournament, Denver showcased their young talent and ability to compete well with freshman Piyusha Boteju and sophomore Monique Domme as setters.

Seniors Bailey Karst, Erica Denney and Kate Acker played crucial parts over the 2014 season. Acker led the team for the second year in a row with a total of 1,255 digs, was an Honorable Mention All-League member, and earned a spot on The Summit League All-Tournament Team. Acker finished her career sixth in the DU record books with 3.26 digs per set.


 

 

Karst also led the team with 1,414 assists over the season, was named to The Summit League All-Tournament Team (MVP), and was honored as The Summit League Setter of the Year. Additionally, Acker and Karst were each named The Summit League Player of The Week during the regular season.

Penn State transfer, Erica Denney, who sat out during her junior year due to an injury, made a hearty comeback in 2014. The returning senior put up 99 blocks in 103 games for a team-high 0.96 blocks per set, and recorded 153 total kills with the second highest attack percentage on the team (behind junior Sarah Schmid).

“I’m proud of our team and the season that we had,” Coach Mahoney reflected. 

“I’m particularly happy for Kate, Bailey and Erica to finish their careers the way that they did: leading this team to its first ever league title and first trip to the NCAA Tournament. Kate was playing her best volleyball this last month and was the best libero on the court in the final 5 matches of her career. Bailey helped our team put up some gaudy offensive numbers and was the best setter in The Summit League. Erica was finally getting healthy and in a good rhythm down the stretch. It was fun to see them peak at the right time and, consequently, the rest of our team followed suit.”

As the seniors move on from the volleyball program, the rest of the team is prepared to follow their example.

Mahoney went on to explain, “They leave some big shoes to fill for 2015, but we have a lot of young talent returning, and more than a few players that will look to step into those leadership roles.”

Rutgers University transfer Sarah Schmid will be the lone senior next year. She spent this past season very involved with captains Acker and Karst, participating in the leadership process. The upcoming junior class will consist of four: Corrujedo, Basey, Okoye and Domme. Mahoney describes this class as “deep not only in talent but also in game-time experience.”  The coaches will look for that group, along with Sarah, to take a more active role in the direction of the program. Mahoney concluded, “I think we are in good hands.”

Basey and Corrujedo have each had tremendous success this season and are among the best on the offensive end for Denver. The sophomores played in 119 sets apiece and put out high numbers on the attack end; Basey compiled 413 kills at a .251 attack rate, while Corrujedo contributed 416 at a .215 rate. Schmid had the highest hitting percentage in The Summit League (.375) and was named to both The Summit League All-League Team and The Summit League All-Tournament Team.

Looking Back:

Denver opened the season with a perfect 3-0 start by defeating Jackson State, Incarnate Word, and Texas-Arlington in a two-day tournament in Arlington.

The team continued its success in hosting the Pioneer Classic, earning second place to the Kansas Jayhawks after shutting out Sam Houston State and Bradley.

In the following pre-Summit League matchups, Denver fell to CSU (a team they later faced in the NCAA tournament), and then Nebraska in the Ameritas Players Challenge. This three-game losing streak served as a teaching tool and point of reference for the Pioneers.

Their brief stint was outshined by an astounding performance to follow, in which the Pioneers triumphed in 13-consecutive games. This included the Denver Invitational title in which Ruth Okoye led the tournament with 53 kills and earned All-Tournament MVP. Karst was also named to the All-Tournament Team.

The Pioneers brought their fueling talent into their Summit League opening match with a straight-set win over Western Illinois. Following this match came 12 wins and just three losses throughout the Pioneers’ Summit League play.

On November 22, Denver entered the Summit Semifinals with North Dakota State. The Crimson and Gold swept their competition, forging onward to win the Summit League Championship in yet another sweep over hosts IUPUI. Emotions ran high as this marked the team’s entry into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in DU volleyball history.

Denver hit their third consecutive match sweep on November 29 against the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley (25-15, 25-18, 25-23). This particular game was a preparation match for both teams that made it into the NCAA Tournament.

The Crimson and Gold wrapped up their season soon thereafter with a loss to CSU, an experience head coach Jesse Mahoney concluded leaves the team “hungry to come back again.”

Denver is prepared for the 2015 season with three additions to the roster. Rebecca "Becca" Latham (Austin, Tex.) and Emmaline "Emma" Willis (La Jolla, Calif.) signed National Letters of Intent to play for the Pioneers. In addition, Bella Griggs of Team Impact officially joined the team.

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