What is ‘the next big thing’ when it comes to DU sports?
The sport could easily be volleyball. Denver replaced successful head coach Jesse Mahoney, who left DU for the same job with the University of Colorado, with assistant coach Tom Hogan. Expect the defending champs of the Summit League to repeat again this year with a mix of veteran experience and defensive aggression – they were one of the top shot-blocking teams in the country last year. DU is coming off a 27 win-season and is poised to take the ‘next step’.
Denver only lost one player this year, graduating star Sarah Schmid, and returns a deep veteran squad. In her place is a core of 7 returning starters and three newcomers. DU picked up size with 6’4″ freshman right-side hitter Shannon Geraty and added setters Hannah Erwin and Andrea Eddy to the current roster.
DU was fortunate to have Hogan waiting in the wings. He knows the system and current team and has prior experience coaching Team USA and the USA Junior National Team. As important, he understands how to identify and develop talent which is exactly what DU needs to win their first NCAA tournament match.
It was no mistake that this month’s Olympic coverage showed lots of volleyball – indoor and out. It’s fast-paced, games are quick, and the players are extremely athletic. Spectators are close to the action and player reactions are easy to spot. And of course, like lacrosse and basketball, teams can go on ‘runs’ that create excitement and anxiety.
The Pios’ journey begins this weekend in San Diego at the Aztec invitational where they face Michigan State tonight and Marist and San Diego State in a doubleheader tomorrow. A fast start could signal the beginning of something big for DU’s next big thing.