Denver Volleyball earns return trip to NCAA Tournament

Denver volleyball (27-2) was on the bubble. After dropping the Summit League conference tournament final to the University of South Dakota, the Pioneers had to anxiously wait at head coach Tom Hogan’s house Sunday evening. The Pioneers were rewarded for their outstanding season, undefeated in conference play, and will have an opportunity in the first round to avenge their regular season loss against the University of Utah.

While there were 32 auto-bids and 65 teams make the tournament, a 43 RPI seemed to be all the Pioneers needed. But the Summit League’s weak strength-of-schedule put the Pioneers at risk. Furthermore, Hogan had to submit injured Katarina Marinkovic as ‘unavailable to play’ to the selection committee for their decision-making purposes. Outside hitter Marinkovic dislocated her knee in the Summit League championship match and is considered by many as one of the best players on the Denver squad.  She was third in points for Denver and second in kills for the season.

This is Denver’s first ‘at large’ NCAA bid in volleyball and shows the growing visibility and respect the program has earned under Hogan and his staff. The first round NCAA match will be held in Provo, Utah on Friday, November 30th.

2 thoughts on “Denver Volleyball earns return trip to NCAA Tournament”

  1. Congrats to the Pios on a great season. Certainly, facing Utah again and knowing DU has already pushed the Utes to a five-game match in Utah earlier this season provides some optimism that DU can compete.

    That said, without Marinkovic (dislocated knee), DU’s attack options are reduced and some DU players are going to need to step up to compensate.

    DU has never won a singe set/game, let alone a match, in NCAA play in the last four years. There is plenty of motivation to improve this NCAA performance record, and let’s hope DU can avoid a sweep, and perhaps grab the match upset as revenge. Either fate would be progress in my book!

  2. Great points, Swami. Interesting to note that South Dakota got a worse seed and have to face #9 Creighton. I just wish DU had Marinkovic – but Denver runs a 3-deep rotation so they are used to playing with different rotations. A win would be huge for the program and would show they are taking the ‘next step’.

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