Denver volleyball earned its third victory of the weekend with a sweep of Abilene Christian (25-10, 25-19, 25-11) in front of 482 fans in Hamilton Gymnasium in the final match of the Denver Invitational. The Pioneers are now 11-3 on the season.
“We had to work through some growing pains this weekend with the new lineup,” head coach Jesse Mahoney said. “I thought Montana especially and Illinois-Chicago put some pressure on us. It was really good to see us respond to that and finish the weekend out playing really well. Hopefully that continues through this week.”
Denver Invitational MVP Moni Corrujedo (El Paso, Texas) contributed 12 kills to a DU offense that hit .376 in the match, while the Denver defense forced a -.041 hitting percentage by the Wildcats. The Pioneers had 20 fewer attacking errors than Abilene Christian and amassed 12.5 total blocks in the match to the Wildcats’ five.
“Well, I thought I was very consistent,” Corrujedo said. “But the team helped me get this award. If it weren’t for them, I would not have been the MVP.”
Sarah Schmid (Highlands Ranch, Colo.) and Kayla Principato (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) were named to the Denver Invitational All-Tournament Team for their play this weekend as they helped Denver find success despite missing Becca Latham (Austin, Texas) from the lineup. And many other Pioneers stepped up as well, including Ruth Okoye (Aurora, Colo.), Emma Willis (La Jolla, Calif.) and Nikki Kennedy (Parker, Colo.).
“Because Rebecca Latham is out right now we had to make a change in that spot,” Mahoney said. “Ruth had played that last year, so it was a comfortable move for her. Emma’s been doing great things day in and day out in practice. She stepped in and I thought did a fantastic job, especially blocking. Nikki is again has been recovering from her ACL and just cleared, so to get her some time on the floor, I think was really good. They both did a really nice job.”
The veterans and newcomers have worked together to find success for the Pioneers, resulting in an 11-3 record and the 3-0 performance in the Denver Invitational.
“We’re young across the board,” Mahoney said. “We have one senior, and we’re playing a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so as much as we can get everybody so they’re comfortable when it matters later in the season is important.”
In the final match of the weekend, Denver led the Wildcats for much of the first set, doubling up Abilene Christian at 12-6 and maintaining at least double the Wildcats’ score for the rest of the set. Denver’s defense excelled in the first set, forcing 11 attacking errors a -.079 hitting percentage from Abilene Christian. Kennedy and Okoye each recorded a solo block in the first set, while Monique Domme(Colorado Springs, Colo.) led Denver with five digs in the set. Corrujedo led the Pioneers in the first set with six kills, while Cassie Baird (Indianapolis, Ind.), Principato and Willis pitched in two apiece.
Abilene Christian came out strong in the second set with a 4-1 lead over the Pioneers, but Denver powered back behind its efficient offense to a 25-19 win. For the second straight set, Denver hit .385 or better. Okoye was also perfect for the second straight set, with two kills on two attempts and added in four blocks assists, while Principato led the Pioneers with four kills in the set.
Denver led Abilene Christian from start to finish in the final set, ultimately winning 25-11 to close out the weekend with a sweep of the Wildcats. Corrujedo and Nola Basey (Lyons, Colo.) recorded four kills each in the third set, while Domme had her best performance with 10 assists as well as six digs. Schmid led the Denver blockers with one solo block and two block assists in the final set, helping to hold the Wildcats to a -.108 hitting percentage.
“It was a different lineup, but we got the job done,” Corrujedo said.
Denver returns to action against in-state opponent Northern Colorado Tuesday, September 22 in Hamilton Gymnasium at 7 p.m. MT in a match that will air on Altitude. The Pioneers will begin Summit League play Friday, September 25 at IPFW.
Corrujedo feels prepared going into the Northern Colorado game after playing the Bears in the spring.
“We played really well against them and hope to do the same Tuesday.”
“After we’re done with Northern Colorado, we’re into Summit League play,” Mahoney said. “And there are some teams in our league that have had some really good results, so we’re going to have to play well when it matters.”
Image credit: DenverPioneers.com