Victoria Valenzuela | Clarion

After a stellar home performance that proved a flawless record for the Pioneers in their home gym, the DU Volleyball team headed to North Dakota last weekend to face the lady Bison. After a victorious first set coming to win from behind (28-26), the Pioneers lost the next three sets, giving the big ‘W’ to the Bison (15-25, 23-25, 23-25).

The Pioneers now home a 10-4 record, and stand 1-1 for conference games. The Bison improved their record to a 12-4 and 3-0 in league play.

As a team, the Pioneers recorded 52 kills, hitting .127. They had 69 digs, 49 assists, seven service aces and four blocks.

Junior outside hitter, Becca Latham (Austin, Texas), continued her strong performance, amounting 13 kills in the set, including her 500th kill of her career. Graduate student middle blocker, Teal Schnurr (Westminster, Colo.), also landed in double digits with her play on the match, counting 11 kills. Senior setter, Piyusha Boteju (Euless, Texas), led the team in assists with 23. Senior libero, Cassidy Rooke (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) led the team in digs as she saved 20 balls from slamming on the Pioneer floor. Rooke is now seated fourth in DU All-Time history as she has 1502 digs in her DU career. Freshman blocker, Tina Boe (Plymouth, Minn.) lead the Pioneers in blocks, amounting 3 assists. Junior blocker, Emma Willis (La Jolla, Calif.) counted a single block for the match. Senior outside hitter, Cassie Baird led Denver with three service aces, but five DU players recorded aces for the match.

Pioneer volleyball showed its true colors in their fight for the set one victory. Down 20-24, they fought back and gained the set momentum, and Denver took the victory as they impressed the entire crowd. There were a total of eight ties and three lead changes in the opening frame. A Schnurr kill and Anderson service ace completed the comeback to take the set, 28-26.  Latham had seven kills in the first set, senior right-side hitter, Kayla Principato (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) had five kills and Schnurr had three.  DU hit .196 with 17 kills and the team had two service aces from Baird and freshman Ellie Anderson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa). Boe combined with Baird and Schnurr for the two Pioneer blocks in the set.

The second set of the match only allowed for eight DU kills, and the team hit a struggling .067 overall. Boteju and Baird were the stars of the set, as Boteju recorded a team-high of four assists, and also accounted for two of the five digs of the match. Baird had back-to-back service aces, as well as two kills, both team-highs in the set. Schnurr also had two kills in the set.

The last two sets were both very close, and in set three, DU had an early lead of 4-7. But, the Bison came back out of a timeout to claim the victory, 23-25. There were ties at 21, 22 and 23 before the Bison closed the set with the last two points to take the set. Denver hit another low percentage at .070 in the set, with Baird registering four kills and Willis and Latham having three kills each. Boteju had seven of the team’s 14 assists, as well as the team’s lone service ace. Willis had a solo block, the only block of any kind recorded in the set for the Pioneers.

The fourth set followed suit of the third, as DU played in a promising manner, yet fell to the Bison in a 23-25 final score. Crimson and Gold Volleyball gave the overall victory to the Bison.

The Pioneers swept the South Dakota Jackrabbits on Sunday in three sets, 3-0. The 25-15, 25-20, 25-10 straight set victory moved the Pioneers to 11-4 overall and 2-1 in the Summit League, while the defeat dropped South Dakota State to 2-15 and 0-4 in the league.

As a team, the Pioneers had 43 kills and hit .278, while holding the Jackrabbits to 25 kills and a hitting percentage of .074. Denver Volleyball recorded 37 assists, 59 digs, 10 service aces and five total team blocks in the win.

Principato led the visitors in kills with 10 in the match, while Rooke and Bartalo provided 13 and 12 digs. Boteju assisted on 19 Pioneer points, and Willis contributed five assisted blocks. Bartalo, Baird, Rooke and Anderson all had two service aces in the match.

Denver Volleyball heads to Nebraska on Tuesday, Oct. 3 to face the Omaha squad. This weekend they head to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face Oral Roberts University.