Category Archives: Volleyball

Denver Women’s Basketball is Turning Heads at 6-1, Shoots into Top 40 in RPI

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DU Junior Lauren Loven led the entire nation in three-pointers as of Nov. 30, 2018                  Photo: University of Denver

As Denver Pioneer fans, we’re lucky that we can pop our attention from one successful DU sports program to another. All three fall DU sports (men’s and women’s soccer plus women’s volleyball) earned appearances in their respective NCAA Tournaments this fall.  And DU hockey is now ranked seventh in the nation on this bye week, more successful than almost anyone thought they’d be at this point in the season with a young team. Which brings me to the next DU team worthy of more of our attention, the DU women’s basketball team, who have shot out to a 6-1 start to the season and a current national top 40 RPI (#39) ranking, including a current four-game winning streak, as of Sunday, Dec. 2.  (Note: Early season RPI rankings are subject to volatile swings, as game data comparisons are still somewhat paltry.)

I would venture a guess that perhaps only 10 percent of our readership here at LetsGoDU have ever been to a live DU women’s basketball game before, and it’s hard to blame them. There is a lot to do in Denver, and the DU women’s basketball teams have been pretty terrible in recent memory, known more for single-digit win/last-place seasons, a fired coach and crowds comprised mostly of friends and family members. Apart from a surprise 2001 NCAA appearance in the early years of the Ritchie Center and a period of decent mediocrity (72-52) under former coach Erik Johnson from 2008-2012, there hasn’t been a lot to cheer about with DU women’s hoops in the last 20 years.

But this year’s DU women’s team is starting to change some of that…  

The Pioneers are starting to get noticed in just the second year of the Jim Turgeon coaching era, with home wins over then-#16 RPI Lamar and the latest win, a 29-point win over Loyola Marymount, a top 100 team who had already beaten UCLA and Arizona this year.  Moreover, the Pioneers are a very high-scoring bunch, averaging a stunning 90 points per game to date this season, and sport a victory margin of 16 points per game.

And Turgeon, who came to DU from CSU-Pueblo in NCAA Division II two years ago, is doing all this with many of former DU coach Kerry Cremeans’ recruits, who knew only college basketball failure before Turgeon’s arrival. Moreover, he’s done it with a wholly different philosophy of team speed, running the floor at altitude and sharing the ball, instead of Cremeans’ over-reliance on feeding key players, a coaching practice that reportedly lost the locker room and brought an end to her losing tenure at DU. This year, DU has five players averaging double-digit scoring per game, a depth which makes it harder for opponents to key on any one player, and also makes for a much happier DU locker room.

DU’s high scoring attack has been led by Lauren Loven, a junior holdover recruit from Cremeans, who is now flourishing in the ball-sharing Turgeon era, leading the entire nation in made three-pointers (30 in six games through Nov. 30), and is averaging 21 points per game overall to lead the Pioneers in scoring. Additionally, fellow Junior Madison Nelson has exploded recently, with a 20-rebound performance against Lamar and pumping in 28 points in the win over Loyola Marymount. But it’s not just upperclassmen.

Hard-working associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Kayla Ard and the rest of Turgeon’s Denver staff have also brought in some freshmen who are stepping up right away, including Sydney Mech, a local swing player out of Cherry Creek High School who can play either forward or guard, and who is shooting a scorching 50% from the field, averaging 10 points per game. Additionally, talented freshman guard Tsimba Malonga from the Chicago area, who has averaged over 20 minutes per game in the last two games, is being rewarded with more playing time as her contributions increase.

While the 6-1 early record is outstanding, it has been created with a lot of home games, and we’ll soon see what the Pioneers are really made of in the coming weeks. DU is preparing to go on the road for seven of its next eight games, including visits to Wyoming, the University of Nebraska and Colorado State, before heading into the teeth of Summit League play, where top level programs South Dakota and South Dakota State are projected to lead the Summit League.

 

Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0

Make it five straight NCAA appearances for the Denver Pioneers (27-3) without winning a set. However, by almost any measure, this year’s team was the best in Denver volleyball history. Denver fell 3-0 to Utah in the first round of the NCAA’s in Provo, Utah. While Denver did not win a game, they are clearly on the right track and battled a solid Utah side.

Freshman outside hitter Graceyn Tippens filled in for the injured Katarina Marinkovic so DU was missing a vital cog in their front line heading into the match. Still, all credit goes to Utah for grinding down the Pioneers in a tight match. Continue reading Denver Volleyball Swept out of NCAA’s 3-0

Denver Volleyball earns return trip to NCAA Tournament

Denver volleyball (27-2) was on the bubble. After dropping the Summit League conference tournament final to the University of South Dakota, the Pioneers had to anxiously wait at head coach Tom Hogan’s house Sunday evening. The Pioneers were rewarded for their outstanding season, undefeated in conference play, and will have an opportunity in the first round to avenge their regular season loss against the University of Utah.

Continue reading Denver Volleyball earns return trip to NCAA Tournament

Denver Volleyball Battles Tough but falls to South Dakota in Summit League Title Game

It may sound like a broken record, but this years DU women’s volleyball (27-2, 15-1) displays their mental toughness every time they step on the court and rebound from seemingly insurmountable deficits and, even, injuries. But Denver could only claw their way back so many times before their luck finally ran out today at Hamilton Gym. The scores were 25-27, 26-24, 25-19, 21-25, and 6-15 as the Pioneers fell in five games to South Dakota in the Summit League Championship game.

Continue reading Denver Volleyball Battles Tough but falls to South Dakota in Summit League Title Game

DU Rallies to Remain Unbeaten in Summit League

In a marathon match at Hamilton gym, DU volleyball (23-1, 12-0 Summit) defeated the University of South Dakota (16-9, 12-3 Summit) 25-15, 25-27, 27-25. 24-26 & 15-12. DU moved to a ‘best ever’ record of 23 wins for the season – while extending their winning streak to 21 matches. This week, DU also received 5 votes by the American Volleyball Coaches Association and fell just outside the top 25 programs. With 330 D1 volleyball  teams, head coach Tom hogan’s squad is making national noise.

The match looked to be  easy early against the second place Coyotes. Denver took the first game 25-15 with relative ease. However, 16 service errors for the night kept South Dakota in the match. And, it was not just service errors – the match featured long rallies by both squads and some incredible saves and kills. The next three games required extra points to determine the winner with USD taking the second and fourth sets to stretch the match into a final deciding fifth game.

Again, DU fell in a hole 10-6 in the final game and were on the brink of defeat. But a furious rally by Denver pulled the game even at 12-12. Then, Denver’s best server, Tina Boe, led Denver for their last three points for the Pioneer win. Tonight was the first time this season that a DU opponent had won a set on the Pioneers floor and South Dakota gave Denver all they could handle. But, ultimately, it was the Pioneers refusal to buckle under pressure that gave them the win.

Becca Latham and Katarina Marinkovic led the Pioneers with 16 and 14 kills respectively. Ellie Anderson and Lauren McManus had 33 and 24 assists. Macy Carrabine had 31 digs. Haley Dotseth and Elizabeth Loschen had 13 and 10 kills respectively and Madison Jurgens had 36 assists and 12 digs to lead the Coyotes.

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And, without a doubt, LetsGoDU’s Tim Healy (playing the bongos with the DU Pep Band) inspired DU volleyball’s late match rally.

DU’s final home match is this Friday against Oral Roberts at 7:00. If you have not seen DU volleyball play this season, this will be your last chance before Denver hosts the Summit League Tournament November 16th-18th.

Homecoming Weekend – It’s that time again!

This upcoming weekend, October 12th – 14th, marks another DU Homecoming and a great chance for students, families, DU faculty and staff along with alumni to cheer on the Pioneers. The weather forecast shows cold weather clearing out Saturday and sunny weather in the 50’s on Saturday for Hocktoberfest – with rapidly falling temperatures.

Hocktoberfest will again feature live music, food and, of course, beer before the game. And, like last year there will be a complimentary scarf and Denver cup.

If you are a last minute planner, there are tickets still a few tickets left for this upcoming weekend. Continue reading Homecoming Weekend – It’s that time again!

Denver Volleyball Sweeps the Dakotas

Photo: Courtesy of Denver Pioneers. 

Denver volleyball (16-1, 5-0 Summit) just keeps rolling. A weekend sweep of South Dakota (3-0) and North Dakota (3-1) has the Pioneers sitting in a first place tie (Omaha is also 5-0) heading toward another 20-win season. And, with 4-consecutive Summit League titles, the Pioneers traveled this weekend to the Dakotas with a target on their backs and returned unscathed.

The sweep of South Dakota (11-7, 5-1 Summit) Friday night was memorable because it was only the 4th match the Yotes have lost at Sanford Coyote Sports Center since it opened in 2016. Twelve  aces each by Becca Latham and Lydia Bartolo along with Ellie Anderson’s 22 assists keyed the Pioneer sweep – 25-23, 25-19 and 25-23.

Continue reading Denver Volleyball Sweeps the Dakotas

DU Volleyball gets first crack at North Dakota as Summit League foe

Photo: DenverPioneers.com. Becca Latham leads a balanced Pioneer attack

It is finally happening. DU (14-1, 3-0 Summit) and North Dakota (12-8, 4-1 Summit) are headed for a ‘first time’ collision course in Summit League play – and this one should be interesting. Denver women’s volleyball plays new Summit League member North Dakota this weekend on the road Sunday, following a Friday road match against South Dakota 10-6, 4-0 Summit). Continue reading DU Volleyball gets first crack at North Dakota as Summit League foe

Denver Swept by Cal Poly 3-0

The University of Denver (23-6) played Cal Poly (27-2) at legendary Pauley Pavillion on the UCLA campus Friday night in round 1 NCAA play.

Denver fell to the Mustangs 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-18).

Going into the match, Cal Poly had won 21 of 26 matches 3-0 so the Pioneers were facing a red hot Mustangs squad. Outside hitter star Torry Van Winden was the player of the match with 21 kills. Taylor Nelson had a whopping 41 assists.

Cassie Baird led DU with 11 kills. Piyusha Boteju had 17 assists and libero Cassidy Rooke had 8 digs to pace the Pioneers.

Denver Falls in the NCAA Tournament
Photo: Compliments Summit League

After four consecutive trips to the NCAA”s, Denver has yet to capture a game in the first round. Coach Tom Hogan and his staff’s goal must make some changes to make a deeper run in the NCAA’s. Continuing to improve their non-conference schedule would seem to better prepare them for this higher level of competition. Nonetheless, another fine season with a regular season championship and conference tournament championship- their fourth in four years.

DU Women’s Volleyball to Face Cal Poly in First Round NCAA Tournament Action

DU volleyball (23-5) got the word slightly after 7:00 pm MT Sunday night that they will be facing  Cal Poly (26-2) in NCAA first round women’s volleyball. Should they win that contest, they are likely to play #15 UCLA. The winner is likely to face #2 Florida in the third round of this bracket and #7 Minnesota in the Regional Finals with the winner advancing to the Final Four. No easy path for sure. The good news is that the Pioneer’s seeding allows them to play another squad that is not seeded in the Top 16. That makes this a realistic opportunity to win a game or two – or even the match before facing a top seeded side.

DU’s first round match will be held at 6:30 MT Friday at UCLA.

The top four seeds for the tournament are (#4) Kentucky, (#3) Stanford, (#2) Florida, (#1) Penn State.