Season Preview: Denver Volleyball Faces a Season Like No Other

Just a month ago, Denver volleyball seemed to be cruising into yet another successful season when unfortunate news struck the team. Tom Hogan, one of the finest coaches on the Denver Athletics staff will miss this season due to a season-ending illness. Hogan has accumulated numerous titles and NCAA appearances with a gaudy  133-36 overall record and 81-14 in the Summit League in seven seasons. Hogan’s loss will be a jolt to a team that is built around his scheme, character, and caring approach with his tight-knit team.

In an amazing twist of fate, Hogan added Jim Stone to his staff earlier this year. Stone had retired to Colorado but Hogan added him as a part-timer to his staff. Stone was a legendary volleyball head coach at Ohio State and racked up a program-record 531 wins during his time there, including 297 in conference play, which both rank fourth in overall and conference wins in Big Ten history. Stone led the Buckeyes to 15 NCAA Tournament appearances, reaching the semifinals in 1991 and 1994. He was inducted in the OSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012, joining nine of his former players. Stone coached 17 AVCA All-Americans and two AVCA National Players of the Year.

Stone will take the reins in Hogan’s absence. Hogan further emphasized that Andrea Beaty, assistant coach, will also play a major role in practice, game-day prep, and game-day coaching. The existing coaching staff will be melding the team’s current playing style with Stone’s game-day approach and style. Hogan had some overlapping preseason practices with the players and Stone but advises, “Fans can expect it taking a good portion of the season to get everyone on the same page.” As fans know, volleyball is like ballet and requires precise passing, coordination, and set plays. “Our staff is completely new, over half the team is new and three-quarters of our lineup is new. Needless to say, getting everyone on the same page will most likely take half the season.”

While DU is favored to win the Summit League, the coaches poll was released before Hogan’s illness became public. The early regular season may be choppy but the hope from program insiders is that the team will peak at the Summit League Tournament where DU can earn yet another NCAA tournament berth.

Hogan believes the talent on the team this season is extraordinary. “We have the most talent that we have had in a long time. Now, we just need to see where the pieces of the puzzle fit and build some consistency.” The pillars for DU will be Brianna Green (middle blocker), Lorrin Poulter (setter) and Hailey Green (middle blocker). As for newcomers, Denver had some impressive additions with Jordan Lockwood (Pitt), Bella Vasquez (CC), Mackenzie Fidelack (Stanford) and Merle Weidt (Arizona). So expect a deep rotation from this season’s team but the playing style will move from a pass-heavy attack to more power under Jim Stone as he adapts to the team’s on-court strengths.

Tom Hogan has requested that the fans, players and coaches keep their focus on the court this season and help support the team during this time of transition.  We would encourage local fans to lend their support to Denver volleyball, especially this season when they need DU community the most.

Denver faces Colorado in Boulder on Saturday, August 27th after today’s pair of matches against Western Michigan and University of Wisconsin Greenbay to open the season.

Photo courtesy of Denver Athletics

One thought on “Season Preview: Denver Volleyball Faces a Season Like No Other”

  1. Tough news for Hogan, and you know it’s a serious medical issue when a competitor like he is won’t be able to be courtside this year…Hopefully, he’ll have time and capacity to be able to watch team video and share his insights during his absence.

    That said, everyone in that locker room now has an inspirational focus, which will help build team unity for a team needing it, and having a deeply experienced and successful Big 10/D-I former head coach in place like Stone will help enormously.

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