Make it five straight NCAA appearances for the Denver Pioneers (27-3) without winning a set. However, by almost any measure, this year’s team was the best in Denver volleyball history. Denver fell 3-0 to Utah in the first round of the NCAA’s in Provo, Utah. While Denver did not win a game, they are clearly on the right track and battled a solid Utah side.
Freshman outside hitter Graceyn Tippens filled in for the injured Katarina Marinkovic so DU was missing a vital cog in their front line heading into the match. Still, all credit goes to Utah for grinding down the Pioneers in a tight match.
The first set was close as Denver fell, 25-23. The teams traded leads during the match and were tied at 18-18 following a Megan Yett kill. However, Utah squeezed out to a two point advantage. From there, the teams traded points until an attack error by DU gave the Utes the win. Six attack errors by DU contributed to the eventual defeat in set #1.
Denver lost the second set 25-18. Denver was trailing by two points, 15-13, when the Utes reeled off six straight points in the middle of the match to pull away from Denver. The Pioneers could never recover from the Utah run. This, clearly, was Denver’s worst set of the match.
In the final set, with the score tied 7-7, Utah went on a five point run to put Denver in a hole. Denver went on their own little run, down 18-12, with five straight points to trail the Utes by one point. A Becca Latham kill knotted the score at 20 each. Three straight Pioneer points, capped by a service ace by Megan Yett, gave Denver the lead, 23-21, and a chance to take the set. Unfortunately, Utah went on run again to take a one point lead. But, again, a kill by DU’s senior Becca Latham pulled DU even, 25-25. The Utes rallied with 2-set points to win the game 27-25 – and the match.
Overall, an outstanding season for Denver volleyball.