Caitlin Gannam | Clarion

Pioneer Volleyball had a flawless weekend, claiming victory over both South Dakota State and North Dakota State in three sets. The Pioneers have won their last five matches, four of which were straight-set wins.

Crimson and Gold Volleyball won a straight set victory over South Dakota State in Hamilton Gymnasium Friday, Oct. 27 evening. As a team, DU hit .306 with 52 kills, 49 assists, 51 digs, six service aces and five total team blocks.

Junior outside hitter, Becca Latham (Austin, Texas) and senior libero Cassidy Rooke (Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.) led the team with 15 kills and digs, respectively, while freshman setter Ellie Anderson (Cedar Rapids, Iowa) had 20 assists and three service aces to lead the Pioneers. Junior middle blocker Emma Willis (La Jolla, Calif.) controlled the net with three total blocks, one solo and two assisted. Latham hit a team and season-high .737 in the match.

“We were challenged tonight by SDSU in a lot of different ways, but our team responded and we grew from this opportunity,” said head coach Tom Hogan. “We adjusted well on our block and defense throughout the night and held South Dakota State to a .129 offensive efficiency.”

Set one was a close fight, containing five ties and two lead changes. The Pioneers started out with an early 4-1 lead, which would extend to 9-3, and force a South Dakota State timeout. Out of the timeout, the Jackrabbits scored three consecutive points to cut DU’s lead to 9-6. Denver held the lead until South Dakota State used a 5-0 run to take a 17-16 advantage. After ties at 17, 18 and 19, Anderson put the Pioneers back in front for the rest of the set with back-to-back service aces to make it 21-19 in favor of Denver. Two Latham kills and a Latham-Willis block secured the opening set for the Pioneers at 25-22. Latham had seven kills, Rooke had seven digs and senior setter Piyusha Boteju (Euless, Texas) had seven assists in the first set. Rooke also had a service ace, which was the senior’s 100th career service ace. Tina Boe and senior rightside hitter Kayla Principato (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) combined for the other Denver block in the set. Crimson and Gold hit .188 with 17 kills, 25 digs, two total blocks and three service aces.

In set two, the Jackrabbits scored the first point of the set, but DU responded with a 3-0 run to take the lead and held the lead for the remainder of the set. Denver went on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 10-3, and then had another 6-0 run later in the set for the 18-9 edge. Latham led the Pioneers again with four kills in the set, and Rooke added four more digs. Anderson had seven of the team’s 13 assists in the set, and added another service ace. Senior outside hitter Cassie Baird (Indianapolis, Ind.) also had a service ace in the set, which were the only aces scored between both teams. Graduate student middle blocker Teal Schnurr (Westminster, Colo.) and Boe had an assisted block, and Latham and Willis teamed up again for another Pioneer block.

In the final set, the Pioneers took the first three points. The Jackrabbits would limit the DU lead down to one point several times throughout the early stages of the set, but were never able to gain a lead. Principato closed the match with six kills in the frame, and Anderson had eight assists for the Crimson and Gold.

On Sunday afternoon, Oct. 29, the Denver women’s volleyball team won in straight sets after defeating the North Dakota State Bison (25-21, 25-14, 25-18).

As a team, DU hit .339 in the match, while holding NDSU to .147.  Denver had 48 kills, 43 assists, 53 digs and seven total blocks, outperforming North Dakota State in all of the categories.  DU added two service aces in the match.

Latham led the Pioneers with 13 kills, while Schnurr also had double-digit kills with 10. Anderson had another double-double, her third of the season, behind 23 assists and 13 digs, leading the team in assists. For the fifth match in a row, Anderson also recorded a service ace, bringing her season total to a team-high  23. Boe also had a service ace for the Pioneers, her fourth of the season. Boteju had 14 assists of her own in the match. Latham added two solo blocks and assisted on two blocks to lead the team in total blocks. Rooke had a team-high 18 digs in the match.

Denver Volleyball plays Oral Roberts at home on Friday, Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.