Match 1 - The Basics
Score: No. 4 North Dakota State (0), No. 1 Denver (3)
Records: North Dakota State (19-9, 10-6) | Denver (22-5, 13-2)
Location: Hamilton Gymnasium – Denver, Colo.
DENVER, Colo. – Pioneer junior Becca Latham turned in a career-high 20 kills as No. 1 Denver punched its ticket to the #SummitVB Championship tomorrow after sweeping No. 4 North Dakota State Saturday afternoon 25-11, 25-20, 25-22.
Latham, a 2017 All-League player, averaged 6.6 kills/set in victory while teammate Ellie Anderson dished out 26 assists for Denver. North Dakota State senior libero Mikaela Purnell finished her Bison career with 11 digs, becoming only the second player in school history to reach 600 digs in a season. Officially, the 2016 and 2017 Defensive Player of the Year finished with 606 digs this season.
A well-rested Pioneer squad rushed out to a 4-0 lead on back-to-back aces from senior Cassie Baird and extended the lead to 12-4 following a Baird kill. The Bison struggled to generate any kind of momentum, never stringing together more than three points the entire set. A blast from Latham and an ace from senior Piyusha Boteju secured the set, 25-11, in favor of DU.
It was a different story in the second set, as the Bison found their bearings and did not allow the Pioneers to create any kind of separation on the scoreboard. Early kills from senior Jessica Jorgensen and freshmen Bella Lien and Allie Mauch allowed NDSU to take the lead, 11-10, on a ball Erika Gelzinyte hammered home.
Another Gelzinyte kill and a DU set error pulled the Bison within two at 21-19, but Latham caught fire and accounted for the Pioneers' final three points to take the set, 25-20.
With Denver leading 12-4, the Bison went on a 9-3 run thanks in part to Lien, Mauch and Gelzinyte combining for a pair of blocks. In fact, a Mauch kill and Gelzinyte ace gave NDSU a 17-16 lead, but the Pioneers never lost their composure and rallied back to win the set, 25-22.
- Down 22-21 in the third set, Denver logged the final four points of the match, capped off by Latham's 20th kill.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- NDSU's Purnell, the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, became second Bison ever to reach 600 digs in season (606 total), joining Kari Fagnan who finished with 619 in 2007
- Denver outhit NDSU .318 to .138 in the match and outkilled the Bison, 49-30
- DU's Latham, who lead the league in hitting this season, tallied a .444 percentage
- The Pioneers improved to 13-1 overall and 8-0 in league play on their home court this season
- Anderson (DU) recorded her third-straight double-double (26 assists, 15 digs)
- Denver advances to The Summit League Championship for the fifth-consecutive season
- Pioneers will face Oral Roberts with a chance to earn their fourth-consecutive league tournament title
Match 2 - The Basics
Score: No. 3 South Dakota (2), No. 2 Oral Roberts (3)
Records: South Dakota (17-11, 11-5) | Oral Roberts (15-12, 12-3)
Location: Hamilton Gymnasium – Denver, Colo.
DENVER, Colo. – On the back of 2017 Summit League Player of the Year Laura Milos and her 32 kills, No. 2 Oral Roberts willed itself to victory over No. 3 South Dakota in an epic, five-set comeback for the Golden Eagles.
With those 32 kills, the senior from Porec, Croatia tied an all-time Summit League tournament record for kills in a single match. Additionally, Milos recorded her 10th double-double of the year after adding a season-high 18 digs.
South Dakota did not show any fatigue after playing yesterday, racing out to a 7-2 lead thanks to an early pair of kills from junior Kristina Susak. The Golden Eagles inched their way back into the match at 9-7, receiving two kills from Morgan Blomquist and another from Milos.
Later, following a kill from ORU's Megan Doran, USD went on a 4-1 run to close the set. Kelly Law mustered one of her nine kills and a ORU set error tilted the match in favor of the 'Yotes with a final set score of 25-19.
Consecutive Elizabeth Loschen kills put the Coyotes up over ORU early, 5-2. South Dakota continued to carry that momentum halfway through the set, rattling off an 8-3 run. Golden Eagle kills from Doran and Shelby Cox offset that Coyote energy a bit, but USD responded minutes later with four-consecutive kills—one each from Law and junior Taylor Wilson, two from Susak—to force an ORU timeout with the scoreboard reading 19-11.
Oral Roberts did not fade easily, staving off USD set point with three straight tallies thanks to two Milos kills and a USD attack error. Law shut the door out of the timeout, though, firing a kill from in close and securing a 25-20 set win for the 'Yotes.
Great pace highlighted the third set, with both sides not flinching an inch. Knotted at 14, a Blomquist kill assisted from Bria Bergman gave the Golden Eagles a lead, and Milos followed with an ace and a kill to add to the ORU scoring cause. Kills from Law and Dotseth accompanied by a Law/Loschen block got the 'Yotes within one late, but Milos extinguished any sign of a comeback with a scorcher into the back-right corner to win the set for ORU, 25-22.
Oral Roberts came out swinging in the fourth, hammering four kills—three from Milos—for an early 4-1 lead. The Coyotes roared back and tied the set at 15, set up by a Wilson/Jessen block. Golden Eagles Laura Picht and Doran answered with a wall of their own as the teams continued to match each other step-for-step.
Facing set point and a chance to push the match to a fifth set, the Golden Eagles had to sweat it out as the Coyotes ran the score to 24-23. Following a timeout, ORU caught a break as a USD serve floated too far and ended the set at 25-23.
The energy from both fan bases in attendance was palpable in the fifth and decisive set. A kill from Bergman and a block from Doran/Picht extended ORU's lead to two (7-5), but Wilson notched a pair of crucial kills shortly after a USD timeout to keep the 'Yotes in striking distance at 8-7.
Jessen tucked one of her 11 kills into the back-left corner to stop the bleeding momentarily for USD, but Milos would not be stopped. With consecutive Milos kills, the Golden Eagles clinched the set, 15-9, the match, 3-2, and their first birth in the league championship match since 2011.
- Up 13-9, Milos carried her team to victory with two-straight kills and put the Coyotes away in the fifth set.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- Milos hit .338 tonight on 74 attack attempts
- ORU's Lucija Bojanjac notched her third 30-plus assist performance of the season
- USD's Dotseth (14 kills, 18 digs) logged her seventh-straight double-double and 17th of the year
- Coyotes had four players with double-digit kills (Jessen – 11, Wilson – 13, Dotseth – 14, Loschen – 13)
- The Golden Eagles make their way to the #SummitVB Championship match for the first time in five seasons, set to take on No. 1 Denver at 2 p.m. MT
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit www.thesummitleague.org website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.