A Season of Trials Ends for No Quit Denver Volleyball

“We’re never going to be that perfect volleyball team – it’s always going to be a battle.” Andrea Beaty – Interim Head Volleyball Coach

Sometimes, the best lessons come with challenges, hardships and yes, losses. DU volleyball (19-12) had character-shaping hurdles all season long and emerged as a strong, resilient group, capable of overcoming nearly any challenge put in front of them, on or off the court.

#4 Denver volleyball completed their 2022 season with a 3-0 match loss to #1 South Dakota Firiday afternoon at the Summit League Volleyball semifinals but that is only a small part of the story. This team will go down as one of the toughest, grittiest teams in Denver Athletics history.

Storm clouds formed around the team during preseason training when Head Coach Tom Hogan was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Treatments would limit Tom’s work with the team as he underwent life-saving chemo treatments. A new volleyball staff, anchored by legendary Ohio State assistant coach Jim Stone and interim head coach Andrea Beaty took the reins. Understaffed and with short notice, Beatty assumed the head coaching mantle while also managing her former responsibilities to include operations, scouting recruiting, and academics.

The new coaching staff was challenged to make a largely reworked team gell in a matter of days with five freshman, five transfers and a returning core of experienced players led by senior setter Lorrin Poulter, libero Ryen Wilkens, middle blocker Brianna Green, defensive specialist Gianna Bartalo and middle blocker Hailey Green. The uncertainty of Hogan’s health hung over the team for the entire season.

New players, new coaches, new playing styles and yet, DU ‘s student-athletes never blinked. They faced every hurdle the season presented and responded positively – and there were many.

The team promptly lost four matches to begin the season. They stabilized their play after the rocky start and went 6-2 over the next eight matches. Despite their scoreboard success, their on-court performance was inconsistent as the team and staff learned to play for each other. It was during this time that seldom-used outside hitter senior Memphis Glasgow started to fill the Denver stat sheet, leading the team in several matches in kills. The unheralded senior showed perseverance by leading the Pioneers in kills during the regular season.

Just when it appeared that DU volleyball were putting the pieces together during the early part of the conference schedule, senior Hailey Green went out with appendicitis. She eventually battled back to rejoin the team in conference play but it was clear that it would take time for her to regain her old form. The team was hit with other injuries during the season but each time, another player stepped up.

Disappointing losses at the hands of Omaha and South Dakota at home and on the road were met by winning performances as Denver showed resilience in the face of nearly every setback imaginable. New players, along with veterans, improved down the stretch to win close matches and build trust and confidence. In the second to last match of conference play, Lorrin Poulter, DU’s best playmaker with over 1000 assists for the season went out with a torn ACL. Another setback in the 2022 season was taken as an opportunity for others to step up.

In round one of the conference tournament in Omaha against South Dakota State, without injured Lorrin Poulter, seldom-used Emma Ziegler stepped up with a career-best 67 assists, spearheading a 3-2 win. “We’re doing this for you Tom so we can come home and practice with you.” Ziegler’s single-match performance doubled her season assist total in the quarterfinal Summit Tournament match.

Today their long, challenging and rewarding season ended, 3-0. The loss put a cap on a grueling season that made each student-athlete stronger and better prepared for bigger, more important things in the future. This 2022 DU volleyball team will go down as one of Denver’s most remarkable teams.

Photo: Courtesy Denver Athletics


One thought on “A Season of Trials Ends for No Quit Denver Volleyball”

  1. True this team went through a lot this season, and I am hearing that Coach Hogan is doing well in his treatments to date. Hopefully, he’ll be back on the DU bench soon!

    However, the bigger picture in the Summit League is that not just this season, but the last four seasons, other Summit programs have caught up to, and surpassed the Pios, particularly USD.

    From 2014-2019, DU won the Summit League annually and made the NCAA Tournament every year during those six seasons. But since 2019, DU has not won the Summit League Tourney and has not seen an NCAA bid since then.

    DU needs to invest in the program and give Coach Hogan the tools he needs to get DU back to the top of the league…

Leave a Reply