Denver (10-6, 2-2 Summit League) lost in Hamilton Gym to the South Dakota Coyotes Sunday afternoon (23-25 ,25-11, 25-20, 16-25, 13-15). Head coach Tom Hogan warned that the 15-1 Coyotes would be a challenge for his young and inexperienced squad, especially this early in the season.
During the match, Denver showed resilience as they came back from an early deficit to knot the score at 20-20 before falling 25-23 in the first game. In the second game, Denver showed how strong they can be when they steamrolled the Coyotes 25-11. In game three, Denver showed mental toughness when they come on strong late in the set to earn a hard-fought 25-20 victory. Inexperience and nerves took over for Denver as South Dakota raced out to a 12-4 lead and coasted to a 25-16 win in the fourth set to knot the match at 2-2. In the final game, Denver stayed close but South Dakota’s experienced showed as they held the advantage the entire set to close out the hard fought match.
“This was a high level match,” said DU coach Tom Hogan. “Our team grew from this experience – I think our inexperience showed. You can see it all in one match – highs and lows. We are inconsistent and inexperienced. These matches make us better.”
Lydia Bartalo was the star once again for the Pioneers with a game-leading 18 kills and 14 digs. The silky smooth Bartalo has all the tools on offense and defense and has emerged as a very special player in her junior season. Elizabeth Juhnke was the leader for the Yotes with 15 kills and 18 points. Libero Macy Carrabine led all players with 28 digs. Denver led most of the match statistics except for blocks which South Dakota led 18-9 and DU had 10 more errors than the visitors. The match featured some great defense and exciting in-set rallies.
This was a high-level match that showed Denver’s weaknesses, a high ceiling and a solid defense. “We defended well, now we need to tie in our transition offense. We need to focus on the offense and get on the same page there [as defense],” according to Hogan.
Taking a cue from DU’s women’s gymnastics community engagement, the volleyball team hosted a volleyball clinic after the match. The clinic was in addition to a post-game autograph session Friday night. Both matches featured solid crowds – and room to grow.