Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0

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.


8 thoughts on “Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0”

  1. Go figure vball is one and done and DU administration is completely ok with that! Play in a league with school of sisters of the blind and then they see what “real” vball is in the tourney and get skunked! Go University of Mediocrity!

    1. DU is not mediocre. They are very good, but just not elite. There are 330 schools in D-I (most of them bigger than DU, and 64 go dancing each year. DU had five straight years of NCAA appearances and is in the top 40 schools now, but there clearly is a gap to get into the top 25-32 schools, in order to get to the next level.

      And DU has no other real choice of joining a better conference. We have our non-football and geographic realties that cut-off other conference options. Until the men’s hoops program gets good enough to attract more interest, we are bound to the Summit League.

    2. BobieQ, you are nuts. We have the most successful athletic program of any school that is not a member of a power 5 conference.

      1. A lacrosse national championship and numerous final fours. Gymnastics in the elite 8 – the only program to do so. Men’s soccer in the final four. A number of individual All Americans in golf, swimming in tennis. I think you just may be an AFA baseball player BobieQ.

  2. The set scores are getting closer so there is some progress, but the results are painfully the same for this DU program in the NCAA tournament. Five straight years and not a single set to DU’s credit, let alone a win. Utah is a team that Denver took to five sets in the early season on Utah’s home floor. But come the NCAAs, DU once again, could not win a single set when it counted on a semi-neutral floor (although in Utah). Part of that is losing Marinkovic when they did, and I think part of it is mental, too.

    I get that in previous NCAA appearances (2014-2016) DU was often up against top seeds on those top seed’s home floors, getting swept vs CSU, Washington and Stanford) respectively. But in 2017 and 2018, DU has also had better placements to battle unseeded teams like Cal-Poly and Utah respectively, and the results are still the same – a few runs of bad hitting, and the Pios find themselves in a hole that they can’t dig out of…

    If I am Tom Hogan, I would try to load up the non-league schedule with as many ranked teams as they can possibly play. There also is clearly a talent gap between the top 25 teams and where DU is, and I’m not sure how that gets fixed. It may be that the Pios are always destined to be good enough to dance, but not good enough to stick around. Hopefully, smarter people than me can fix that gap, but the tune is starting to get old and repetitive…

  3. I just want to point out a critical fact, again. Perhaps DU’s best player junior outside hitter Katarina Marinlovic was injured a week ago. They had less than a week to adjust. A freshman Graceyn Tippens who played very little this season was thrown into action. Her hitting % for the match was .071%. Marinovic average attack % for this season was .273%. Marinkovic had 282 kills for the season and Tippens had 41. So if we want to discuss facts, two of the three games were decided by two points. Does anybody in their right mind think that DU would not have won at least one of those games with Marinkovic in the line-up – if not two? I really believe this match was quite different than any other past NCAA appearance by DU. DU just had an unfortunate late injury to perhaps their best player. Hogan would never use this as an excuse but I will. I think they are on the right track, especially if they can get a middle seed again (like Utah) and face a program of similar strength. As for Stanford, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc…they will always be in a league of their own – they fill Power 5 arenas.

    1. You are probably right about Marinkovic. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to play what likely would have been the biggest match of her college career.

      I’m just sad that they couldn’t win a set at the NCAAs this year. That would have felt like more progress…

  4. Didn’t get to watch but was hoping for at least a set to really put some pressure on the Utes. I’m sure the ladies played their ass off and the volleyball program has elevated greatly over the past 5 years. Improvements now are going to come more slowly but still getting to the second round is a realistic goal and the next step for this program.

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