Photo: Courtesy of Jason Evans. Denver players storm the court after game deciding point.
Make no mistake, the match between Omaha (19-14, 10-6) and Denver (23-7, 13-3) was much closer than the final score would indicate. Denver employed a quick 2-set start, 25-21 and 21-13, to build what looked like a comfortable cushion. Omaha charged back in the third set to win 25-22. DU built an 18-10 lead in the deciding fourth game but the Mavericks came charging back to close the DU advantage to 21-18. DU countered with four straight points on two kills and two forced errors to close out the game and earn the Summit League Tournament Championship and NCAA berth.
The win marks Denver’s 5th conference title in the Summit League.
Omaha, coming off a shocking upset of South Dakota while breaking their 24-match winning streak, continually fought back during the match. Denver was able to stop a number of Maverick runs – often featuring acrobatic rallies and big saves by each team.
Hear what your 2019 Summit League Tournament MVP has to say about the Pios 3-1 victory over Omaha pic.twitter.com/oa5BLzFXds
— Denver Volleyball (@DU_Volleyball) November 24, 2019
UNO was led by hitter Sadie Limback with 16 kills and setter Sami Clarkson who had 12 digs along with defensive specialist Courtney Morehead who chipped in with another dozen digs. But it was the Summit League Conference Player-of-the-Year and Tournament MVP, Lydia Bartalo, who led the Pioneers with 16 kills and a .400 hitting percentage. Two other standouts for Denver for the match, voted to the All-Tournament coaches’ team, included Tina Boe (6 kills, 4 blocks and 6 digs on a . 417 hitting %) and Amanda Green (9 kills & 2 digs). Freshman outside hitter Kalea Fobert chipped in with 13 kills . Setter Ellie Anderson had 23 assists and libero Macy Carrabine steadied the central defense with 14 digs. This may have been Denver’s best overall ‘team win’ of the season. So, clearly, a number of Denver players contributed to conference championship win.
A great crowd featuring the the DU swim team (fully clothed), the pep band, a vocal Omaha fan base and Denver fans, parents and other athletes created a great afternoon environment at Hamilton Gym,
Next up for Denver will be a tune-up match in Magness Arena Saturday, November 30th at 2:00 pm vs. Colorado State (28-1, 18-0). The NCAA selection show will be held on Sunday, December 1st.