Match 1 - The Basics
Score: No. 1 Denver (3), No. 2 Oral Roberts (1)
Records: Denver (23-5, 14-2) | Oral Roberts (15-13, 12-4)
Location: Hamilton Gymnasium – Denver, Colo.
DENVER, Colo. – Denver junior Emma Willis turned in a career-high 15 kills and 2017 #SummitVB Tournament Most Valuable Player Kayla Principato added 12 more on .370 hitting as the Pioneers won their fourth-consecutive tournament title, defeating No. 2 Oral Roberts in four sets (25-14, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16).
The 2017 league tournament team included Sydney O'Shaughnessy (Omaha), Brittany Jessen (South Dakota), McKenzie Burke (North Dakota State), Nicole Rightnowar (Fort Wayne), Laura Milos (Oral Roberts), Shelby Cox (Oral Roberts), Becca Latham (Denver), Willis (Denver) and MVP Principato.
Intensity matched the moment, as Denver and Oral Roberts combined for six-straight kills to start the championship match (three by each side).
From there, the Pioneers ran off five-consecutive points before a kill by ORU's Lara Picht stopped the bleeding at 8-4. A Willis blast extended DU's lead to six, 11-5, but a Milos kill, a Cox/Megan Doran block and a couple DU attack errors aided a 4-0 Golden Eagle run halfway through the set.
Back-to-back aces from freshman Macy Carrabine put the Pioneers ahead, 20-12, and a Latham kill iced the first set in favor of DU, 25-14. For the set, Denver hit .360 while ORU mustered a .111 percentage despite six kills on .400 hitting from Milos.
Oral Roberts got out to an early 4-2 lead in the second set thanks to a bomb from freshman Morgan Blomquist, and a sneaky find from Lucija Bojanjac in the open court broke a 7-7 tie.
Milos and Blomquist combined to form a wall that hindered a Latham kill to put ORU up, 12-9, while a Doran/Picht block extended the Golden Eagle lead to four, 15-11.
Principato came out of the media timeout with two scorchers that ORU could not defend, while a kill from DU freshman Tina Boe and an ace from senior Cassie Baird on consecutive points knotted the set at 16.
Tied at 18, the Golden Eagles mounted a 6-3 run, fueled by a pair of blocks from Milos/Blomquist and Doran/Picht. Out of a timeout, though, Denver made things interesting with two balls Baird hammered home to pull the Pioneers within one at 24-23. Picht, however, recorded one of her six kills to secure the set for ORU.
Tied at four coming out of the break, Denver pieced together a 3-0 run backed by a ball Baird fired into an empty area. The lead became four in favor of the Pioneers halfway through the set after Principato nailed one ORU struggled to dig out, and DU created more separation at 17-11 after back-to-back Golden Eagle attack errors.
Three-consecutive kills—one from Blomquist and two from Milos—stopped the Denver momentum and cut the Pioneer lead in half, 17-14, but the Pioneers regained a 21-14 lead out the timeout.
Following a 5-0 DU run, the Golden Eagles answered with a 4-0 rally themselves thanks to back-to-back kills from Cox and Milos, but consecutive heaters from Willis sealed the set for Denver, 25-19.
A back-and-forth battle early in the set, the Pioneers and Golden Eagles found themselves deadlocked at six. Cox and Doran fended off another DU attack attempt to break the tie, while a Boe kill broke an 11-11 knot later in the set for the Pioneers.
Halfway through the fourth set, Denver grabbed an 20-14 lead thanks to a 7-2 run aided by three kills from Baird. A late kill from Milos cut the deficit to 24-16, but Willis finished off the set and match with her 15th kill.
Tied at 11 in the fourth set, Denver went on a 9-3 run to take a 20-14 edge. Oral Roberts received a couple more kills, but the deficit was too much to overcome.
INSIDE THE BOX SCORE
- ORU's Milos capped off an incredible collegiate career with 25 kills on .333 hitting and her 11th double-double of the season (10 digs)
- Milos finishes with 551 kills on the season (seventh-best single-season kills total in Summit League history) and 2,267 for her career (second-most all-time in school and league history)
- Denver's Piyusha Boteju ended Sunday with 21 assists and 11 digs for her 11th double-double on the year
- The Pioneers advance to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight season.
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.