Overachieving Fall Sports Come to a Close

An over-performing, cobbled-together volleyball team finished with a share of the regular season Summit League Title with three other teams. They traveled to Vermillion, S.D. for the Summit League Tournament, won the first round, advanced to the semifinal and fell Monday to the Omaha Mavericks in five sets (21-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 14-16). The Pioneers battled back from a two-game deficit and lost in extra points. The team started 1-7 in non-conference play with a new coach and the loss of key players.

Starting middle blocker Brianna Green transferred to TCU while setter Lauren Carter left for Northwestern along with setter Emma Ziegler to Creighton. Setter Lorrin Poulter is using her 5th year at Purdue. Maddie Hensen went to Iowa. Future recruits de-committed as Canadian Olympian Lydia Johnson jumped to Michigan and Sydney Barrett switched to Dayton. Denver was left with no returning setters, a critical position, on the squad, and only one middle, Cadi Boyer. Head Coach Megan Pendergast was left to fill the holes late in the recruiting cycle. She found graduate transfers to fill many of the holes and the team found their footing in conference play. This marks the end of the season for fall sports.

Denver Volleyball is going to lose their grad transfers (Cassie Davis, Mackenzie Fidelak, Cadi Boyer) along with graduating seniors (Molly Mirrabelli, Ryen Wilkens, Gianna Bartalo). Pendergast will have to work in the off-season to reload. It does appear that Denver may be an ideal spot to recruit experienced volleyball grad transfers so Pendergast may elect to go that route again.

Denver’s other fall sports enjoyed strong regular seasons but found mixed results in the post-season. Denver’s men’s and women’s soccer squads both won their regular season titles but lost in Summit League Conference semifinal shootouts. Men’s soccer earned an at-large bid but lost to SMU 2-1 in the second round. Women’s triathlon crowned a national champion, Maira Carreau, and finished tied for a 3rd place team finish.

Pioneer fans can look forward to winter sports with men’s and women’s basketball as well as hockey, all three underway.  If you want to learn more about Denver lacrosse, watch this excellent video to learn more about the Matt Brown era and DU men’s lacrosse which will start play in late January.

3 thoughts on “Overachieving Fall Sports Come to a Close”

  1. DU is the most attractive school in the Summit in terms of best location, best academics and best recruiting appeal for those athletes who compete in country club sports. I feel as though winning league titles in m/w soccer and volleyball, tennis, swim/dive and golf should be table stakes for Denver’s programs every season in the Summit.

    I think women’s soccer underachieved slightly this year– they had a new coach but did not lose any major transfers or recruits. They did just fine in the Summit regular season, but flamed out when it mattered in league tourney on their home field against an Omaha team that DU should have defeated without going to PKs — that good season had a bitter and surprising end that I am sure coach Stich will use to fuel the regroup for a new season next year.

    Men’s soccer over-achieved considering DU lost three of their best All-American candidate level players and captains to season-ending injuries but still finished as a top 25 program, winning an NCAA tourney game and coming within inches of tying/beating #6 SMU in Dallas. Certainly the best coaching job by Jamie Franks since the 2016 College Cup (final four) season, which remains the high water mark of soccer at DU.

    Similarly, Megan Prendergast got the DU coaching job late in the process, with huge losses to transfer in a very tough period after a very unfortunate end to the Tom Hogan coaching era. As the article pointed out, her ability to cobble together a league co-championship team out of transfers and late recruits in her first year speaks incredibly well for her abilities. I can forsee DU returning to the NCAAs in the coming years, and perhaps even winning a set or two once there, something no DU team has ever done before, let alone win a match.

  2. Kudos to these teams and the individuals for all their accomplishments this season. Looking forward to even more success next year.

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