Photos credit: Jason Evans
With Denver volleyball (23-8) already in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday afternoon’s contest was a ‘tune-up’ for the Pioneers’ and an important seeding opportunity for CSU. But, to add to the intrigue, #11 Colorado State (29-1) has qualified for the NCAA Tournament as well. The NCAA often schedules regional games in the first round of the playoffs to reduce travel costs so the Rams and Pioneers may well meet again in less than a week.
Denver showed Colorado State that they can take their best shot and battle back against a nationally ranked program.
On Saturday’s match, DU lost the first game 25-19 but rebounded in the second set 25-23. The Rams dominated the third game 25-11. The Pioneers shocked CSU in the fourth set on extra points, 27-25, to take the match to a deciding fifth game.
Denver raced out to a 4-1 lead in the rubber game but the Rams clawed back, eventually winning the deciding game 15-11. But make no mistake, there was not much difference between the two sides this afternoon.
Amanda Green and Lydia Bartalo led the Pioneers with 16 and 12 kills respectively. Ellie Anderson had 25 assists and 11 digs in a great all-around Floor game. The big difference between the teams was kills – CSU had 73 to Denver’s 47.
This was an excellent test for Denver playing in the large arena against a quality opponent. Also, Denver can take advantage of the long quarterly holiday break for additional practice and preparation for next week’s NCAA playoffs. Finally, the loss to CSU may have seeded the Rams higher, averted potential road trips to Minnesota, Texas or Utah for DU, and set up a rematch in Ft Collins. If so, DU should have a confident squad headed north on I-25.
We will know more tomorrow with the NCAA selection show is scheduled for this Sunday 6:30 pm MT and first round contests begin at campus sites on beginning Thursday, December 5th.