Photos & Interviews: Courtesy Jason Evans
Denver (7-2 Summit League) defeated Fort Wayne (7-3 Summit League ) 25-9, 23-25, 25-19, 25-23 at Hamilton Gym Friday evening. With the win, Denver avenged a similar score and loss at Fort Wayne earlier in the season and passed the Mastodons to move into second place in the Summit League. Denver trails only South Dakota (9-0) with seven conference games remaining and a road trip to South Dakota.
Denver overpowered the Mastodons in a flawless first game 25-9. In the second game, Fort Wayne raced out to a 14-5 advantage but DU came back to make it close before Fort Wayne closed out the game by 2 points. In the third game, Denver built an 18-11 advantage highlighted by two kills by Lydia Bartolo and a service ace by Ellie Anderson. Fort Wayne pulled within six points but kills by Bartolo and Tina Boe put the finishing touches on the game and gave DU a 2-1 advantage. In the fourth set, DU trailed for most of the game. Trailing 16-13, DU’s Amanda Green forced two attack errors by the Mastodons. But the visitors pulled away again to build a 20-16 advantage before the Pioneers stormed back with their game-winning run. Four consecutive kills by Denver drew the match even. Denver used a service error by Fort Wayne, a kill by Amanda Green and an attack error by Fort Wayne to end the match.
It was a great show of mental toughness by the Pioneers as they continually dug themselves out of holes and earned a hard fought conference win. As usual, Lydia Bartolo, Summit League Offensive Player of the Week, led the Pioneers with 16 kills, Tina Boe had 10 kills and Amanda Green chipped in with 9. Three players had double digit digs for DU to include Macy Carribine (14), Amanda Green (13) and Ellie Anderson (12).
Head Coach Tom Hogan liked the opening energy when Denver was “hitting on all cylinders in that first game and that was led by our service game. It was too much for them. We knew what they were going to try to do – try to go after our block and mix up their shots. We got our footing (after the second game) especially with how uncomfortable we felt at the beginning of the third game.”
Outside Hitter Amanda Green emphasized Denver’s fast start, “The first set was awesome, we played super clean. We played together and we let Fort Wayne make mistakes. It was the best we played all year. After the second set (loss) we said we’ve got to pick it up, come together and work as a team. Take it point-by-point and no need to rush.” When asked about what the team learned from the win, Green added, “We can beat anybody – as long as we keep our feet on the gas. We can achieve great things this season.”