Video: Denver Head Coach Tom Hogan
By: Aubrie Laufenberg
Score: No. 1 Denver 3, No. 4 Purdue Fort Wayne 0
Records: Denver (27-1), Purdue Fort Wayne (18-14)
Location: Hamilton Gymnasium
Denver, Colo. –No. 1 Denver defeats No. 4 Purdue Fort Wayne (27-25, 25-13, 25-20) in the semifinal match Saturday. The Pioneers will be making an appearance in the championship match scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. MT where they will meet the winner of the second semifinal match.
Who Stood Out
It was a team victory all around as three Pioneers paced the offense. Becca Latham tallied a team-high nine kills, while Emma Willis recorded eight more. Graceyn Tippens record an additional eight kills with a team-best .444 hitting percentage. Lydia Bartalo and Ellie Anderson split the defensive effort as each ended the match with 10 digs apiece. Anderson also added 22 assists while Andrea Eddy contributed 11 more.
Purdue Fort Wayne's Sydney Boerst made her presence known for the Mastodons ending the match with 11 kills on a team-best .786 clip. Madelyn Wurster chipped in seven kills, while Nicole Rightnowar added five more. Victoria Mills had 15 assists, while Madison Jaqua added 14 more. Defensively, Elizabeth Britner led the team with 11 digs.
A first tight set that included six tied scores and four lead changes ended in the Pioneers toughing out a 27-25 victory to take a 1-0 lead over the Mastodons. DU used the 1-0 lead to build momentum going into the second set. Purdue Fort Wayne's only lead of the set came from the first point. A kill from Lydia Bartalo followed by a service ace gave Denver a 2-1 lead and the Pios did not look back.
A kill by Sydney Boerst would bring the Mastodons within two, 10-8, but DU's Becca Latham answered by hammering down a kill to spark a 10-1 run for Denver pushing the lead 20-9. Purdue Fort Wayne would score only three more points before a kill by Willis would seal the deal and give Denver set two 25-13.
"Our mental game was our strongest part today," Denver head coach Tom Hogan said. "A lot of teams can check out or get distracted by situations. Our mental game was tough and strong.
"The reason we are so good is our depth. We compete against each other every day at practice and we make each other better. I feel comfortable putting anyone on our team on the floor. Graceyn Tippens came in and did amazing. She hit a .444, so to come in off the bench when you haven't played much this season and hit .444 is pretty amazing."
- Tippen's .444 hitting percentage is a season-best for her
- In the third set, Denver's hitting percentage was a match-high .346
- Denver will be entering its sixth-straight championship match Sunday
- Boerst's impressive .786 clip is the best she's hit this season
Denver enters the championship match scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. MT. The Pioneers will play the winner of the second semifinal match between No. 2 South Dakota and No. 6 North Dakota State scheduled to be played at 6 p.m. MT today.
ABOUT THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Through 36 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 115,000 at nine institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Purdue Fort Wayne (Purdue University Fort Wayne), the University of North Dakota, 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. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced 12 NCAA Champions along with over 100 Academic All-Americans, nearly 125 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.