Photo: Courtesy Denver Athletics
#3 seed Stanford used their size and skill to defeat Denver Friday night in Palo Alto, California, 3-0 (25-20, 25-11, and 25-15). And, DU was not the only program getting swept in the first round – none of the 16 seeded teams lost a single game in the first round.
There is no shame losing to one of the most powerful teams in women’s collegiate volleyball, on their home court and against the best volleyball player in the world – Katheryn Plummer. Plummer delivered big-time with 17 kills and 22.5 points on a variety of shots. And, the Cardinal neutralized DU’s star, Lydia Bartalo, limiting her to 4 kills and 4 points.
Head coach Tom Hogan tried to employ speed and movement on offense to avoid Stanford blockers but their size was just too much for Denver front line to handle. Still, there were times in the match when Denver had some excellent rallies and made points to hang with the Cardinal. But Stanford has a way of making almost any team they play uncomfortable.
— Denver Volleyball (@DU_Volleyball) December 7, 2019
The Pioneers will lose Amanda Green and Andrea Eddy to graduation but most of the team’s current roster is expected to return. Denver will also have two returning players from injury – Taylor Joachim and Katarina Marinkovic. Marinkovic was perhaps Denver’s best outside hitter when she was injured late last season. Next season, Hogan will be able to pair red-shirt senior Katarina Marinkovic with Summit League Player of the Year Lydia Bartalo for one of the best tandems in the country. Add all-league Summit middle blocker Tina Boe, Summit League honorable mention Ellie Anderson, all-freshmen Summit Kalea Fobert and Brianna Green and DU will likely have their strongest squad ever. And, this list does not include libero/defensive specialist Macy Carrabine and a host of returning players and solid recruits that are likely to contribute as well.
Still, despite the loss, tonight was a special evening to watch the DU volleyball program play on one of volleyball’s biggest stages. The program’s progress this season, during what was a ‘rebuilding year’, was a tribute to Denver players and coaches who worked to improve every day during the season. And, if things fall into place, there may be even better results in this team’s future.